In Resurrection City Peter Heltzel paints a prophetic picture of an evangelical Christianity that eschews a majority mentality and instead fights against racism, inequality, and injustice, embracing the concerns of the poor and marginalized, just as Jesus did. Placing society's needs front and center, Heltzel calls for radical change and collective activism modeled on God’s love and justice.
In particular, Heltzel explores the social forms that love and justice can take as religious communities join together to build “beloved cities.” He proclaims the importance of “improvising for justice”—likening the church’s prophetic ministry to jazz music— and develops a biblical theology of shalom justice. His vision draws inspiration from the black freedom struggle and the lives of Sojourner Truth, Howard Thurman, and Martin Luther King Jr. Pulsing with hope and beauty, Resurrection City compels evangelical Christians to begin “a global movement for love and justice” that truly embodies the kingdom of God.
Peter Heltzel is a jazz-infused theologian par excellence! Don't miss this gem of a book.
—Cornel West, professor of philosophy and Christian practice, Union Theological Seminary
Jazz musicians can improvise because they are so rooted in musical traditions, because they know the standards so well. This grounding allows for the freedom to create something that is both continuous with the past and open to a new future. Theology, claims Peter Heltzel, should be like improvisational jazz—various traditions coming together in an ongoing continuity that is always new. In Resurrection City Heltzel performs just this kind of theology. Deeply grounded in Scripture, history, music, and the struggle for justice, Heltzel improvises a prophetic Christian theology of hope. Both scholarly and accessible, Resurrection City is a virtuoso performance.
— Shannon Craigo-Snell, professor of theology, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
This is an informative, provocative, and timely book—a gift to the church as it seeks the shalom of the city.
— Eldin Villafañe, professor of Christian social ethics, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Heltzel’s extraordinary theology prophetically re-imagines the future of Christianity through improvisation, the lifeblood of creative music around the world, enacting a clarion call to assembly that exhorts us toward a spiritual practice affirming the twinned imperatives of justice and love.
—George E. Lewis, Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music, Columbia University
Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and the notion of ‘Resurrection City,’ Peter Heltzel, a leading thinker of his generation of American evangelicals, presents here arguably the most cogent theological engagement with race and the American evangelical world available today, even as he locates his engagement within a wider frame—a vision for an evangelicalism of the future. This, Heltzel lyrically argues, will be an evangelicalism that dares to love as God loves. It is a jazz-inflected, musical evangelicalism—an evangelicalism that engages its past, that negotiates the present with improvisational verve (the inspiration here is John Coltrane’s sermonic anthem A Love Supreme), and that consequently can receive the future. I heartily recommend this book.
— J. Kameron Carter, associate professor of systematic theology and black church studies, Duke University Divinity School
Peter Goodwin Heltzel is associate professor of theology and director of the Micah Institute at New York Theological Seminary. Author of Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics and coeditor of the Prophetic Christianity series, he is also assistant pastor of evangelism at Park Avenue Christian Church in New York City.