Hearts & Minds BookNotes

annotations, blurbs and ruminations

to enlarge the heart & stimulate the mind

and to happily generate mail order business for Hearts & Minds bookstore

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Location: Dallastown, PA

My lovely wife Beth and I own and operate--proprietors makes us sound more classy than we really are--a cluttered, diverse and independent bookstore in Central Pennsylvania. After well over 20 years, we are still not sure what to say when people ask if our shop is a "Christian bookstore." I do a monthly book review column over at our website; we hope that these new blogged bits will afford friends and customers the chance to see other books I happen to be reading, wishing to read, pretending that I read or at least believe that others should, if not read, know about. We have three children, attend a Presbyterian church in York, PA and have no hobbies.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More new theology books---Scot McKnight, Rowan Williams, John Inge, Hans Kung, Stephen Nichols

The other day I listed a few serious theology books---although not so academic as to be out of reach for thoughtful lay readers--by important Reformed theologian Michael Horton. Good and significant stuff, to be sure. If that got you curious, I thought I'd just list a couple other books of theology that we have gotten in here at the shop the last week. These are just a few, mind you, but may picque your interest in reading in this discipline.

A Community Called Atonement (Living Theology) Scot McKnight (Abingdon) $17 You may know of our admiration for this author, a friendly theologian who is adept at various sorts of writing-- doing heavy theology, moving devotional meditations, essays of grace-full prose, Biblical scholarship, balanced stuff about the emergent conversations.... Scot here offers the first of a series (edited by Tony Jones) called "Living Theology." If this is any indication, it is going to be a terrific series, and this will be a vital and important contribution.

I would hope that many readers of our BookNotes blog know that there are serious debates raging now in many parts of the church about the nature of the atonement, how justification happens, the ways in which the Bible portrays our salvation, and the role of the Cross and Christ's death in Christian theology. What a mouthful, what a heart-full...this stuff surely matters much to those of us who love the gospels, love the cross, care about matters of orthodoxy, but are eager to always explore new ideas and formulations and insights. Although it is more than a reply to the so-called "New Perspective on Paul" it does, obviously, explore similiar concerns. And so, here, McKnight reminds us that even our most cherished doctrines are lived, theological formulations offered in community. The title itself is intriguing, isn't it?

One of the most important authors on these matters these days is J.I. Packer professor of theology at Regent, Hans Boersma (whose magnificent book, Violence, Hospitality and the Cross: Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition[now out in paperback] is well worth the serious time it takes to work through it.) Of McKnight's A Community Called Atonement, he writes,

Atonement theology, McKnight rightly insists, cannot operate with only one theory; it needs all of the biblical metaphors and each of the traditional atonement models. They all come together, he points out, in the patristic model of recapitulation--or, as he calls it, identification for incorporation. More than just being gutsy, orthodox, creative, as well as scholarly in character, this book actually atones; it models what it sets out to demonstrate, namely, that the church is summoned to work with God in his atoning work.
Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief Rowan Williams (Westminister/John Knox) $16.95 Printed on heavy nearly glossy paper, this small, attractive hardback is a gem to hold, a rare and blessed book which seems to just sing. Here is what Theology Today says, "How rare to find someone who, simultaneously, is thoughtfully and constructively involved both with the main teachings of Christian theology (from the Bible through its formative periods to the present) and also with contemporary culture, politics, education and spirituality."

The Christian Century says "It is a happy coincidence that the most important Protestant theologian in the world is also the best." Agree or not, this is a lovely little book, great for a renewal of your convictions, or as a gift to one who might appreciate a learned and caring intro.

A Christian Theology of Place John Inge (Ashgate) $33.95 Not exactly new, but new to us. This was shortlisted for the prestigious (Anglican) "Michael Ramsey Prize last year. Brueggemann says that he finds it "on target in powerful and compelling ways." Anybody interested in the distinctions between "place" and "space"? On implications of a sacramental vision for land use? A critique of Hellenistic backgrounds to the topic? This looks really fine.

The Beginning of All Things: Science and Religion Hans Kung (Eerdmans) $22 I believe I mentioned this last month in a post about my favorite three publishers (Eerdmans was one of 'em.) Kung is a world class theologian--not my favorite for any number of reasons--but here, he weighs in as a theologian, on the faith/science conversation. Polkinghorne says it is fascinating, and I'll believe him. Anybody want to check it out?? A major new work.

For Us and Our Salvation: The Doctrine of Christ in the Early Church Stephen J. Nichols (Crossway) $14.99 Steve is a prolific writer and professor at Lancaster Bible College. I love this guy and his many books because they are at once historically solid, theologically orthodox, precise, and happily readable---interesting, accessible. Of course, especially these days in popular culture (and too often, in the church) clarity about who Christ is, and who the church has declared him to be, is lacking. In these brief chapters, we get original sources and explanatory stuff, historical theology and up-to-the-minute urgency. With a glossary and all kinds of teacherly helps, this is the best intro to the creedal debates and heresy--and eventual Christology--of the earliest church. What a great little book! Highly recommended.

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