Eerdmans Marva J. Dawn Collection (11 vols.)

3 publishers
, 1989–2006


Each successive generation brings new challenges to the church. Armed with both an understanding of contemporary culture and an emphasis on traditional Christian wisdom, Marva J. Dawn addresses these new challenges, and some old ones in new garb. Among the issues Dawn covers are biblical sexuality, traditional and contemporary worship styles, modern children’s ministry, how to Sabbath in the twenty-first century, and how to culturally translate the gospel without changing the message. Also included are Dawns biblical commentary and devotional pieces on Isaiah, Romans, and Revelation.

Pastors and engaged church members will appreciate Dawn’s scholarly and eminently relevant insights into the condition of the Christian church today.

In the Logos edition, the Eerdmans Marva J. Dawn Collection is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Want an even better deal? Get more books at a bigger discount when you order the Eerdmans Bible Reference Bundle 2!

Key Features

  • Addresses contemporary challenges to the church’s health
  • Presents practical insights from a distinguished scholar
  • Includes biblical studies on building community and sustaining hope

Product Details

Individual Titles

Reaching out without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for This Urgent Time

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 1995
  • Pages: 328

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Why do churches fight “Worship Wars?” Why do discussions about how to conduct worship often split into two vitriolic polarities over “traditional” versus “contemporary” styles or into two opposing camps, such as organists/ guitarists, baby boomers/elders, returnees/loyalists or clergy/musicians? These worship wars prevent us from being the church.

In Reaching out without Dumbing Down, Marva Dawn writes to help local parishes and denominations think more thoroughly about worship and culture so that they can function effectively in contemporary society. She roots her discussion of worship issues in a careful assessment of significant aspects of the present technological, boomer, post-modern society, and names criteria by which to judge the various cultural influences. She then sketches essential attributes of worship. Dawn recognizes that the vitality and faithfulness of our personal and corporate Christian lives and the effectiveness of our outreach to the world depend on the character that is formed in individuals and communities.

How can churches best reach out to society without “dumbing down” this essential character formation? Dawn discusses music, preaching, and all the accouterments of worship and offers practical suggestions for choosing the best tools and forms to deepen worship life, nurture faith development, and increase believers’ outreach throughout the universal church and to the world.

Few books on worship are as articulate, thought-provoking, well researched, and prophetic as this volume . . . Dawn displays a broad awareness of the popular trends and conclusions presented in contemporary church growth literature as her quotations, discussion, and ample footnotes demonstrate.

Bibliotheca Sacra

Dawn’s perspective on worship is refreshingly theocentric. . . . An interesting work that addresses a key topic for Christians.

CBA Bookstore Journal

In her warmly encouraging book, Dawn explores ways that congregation members and leaders can plan appealing and accessible worship services without ‘dumbing down’ to the lowest common denominator of popular culture. . . . An especially helpful guide to the literature on church growth, authentic contemporary worship and music, and doing theology in congregations.

Christian Century

A Royal “Waste” of Time: The Splendor of Worshiping God and Being Church for the World

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 1999
  • Pages: 385

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Following up on her best-selling Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, Marva Dawn offers biblically grounded, experienced insights to help churches navigate beyond today’s destructive worship wars and to stimulate renewal in the worship and life of congregations.

The first major section of the book examines the postmodern, media-saturated, consumerist culture that makes worship difficult yet absolutely essential. The next section focuses on keeping God at the center of worship. Other sections of the book explore issues of taste, forming faith in children, word choices, hospitality in worship, and the challenges of “being church for the world.” The book also includes nine Scripture-based sermons and questions for further discussion.

In contrast to writers who advocate worship for utilitarian purposes, Dawn concentrates on worship’s royal dimension, its God-ward focus. A Royal “Waste” of Time amplifies Dawn’s earlier argument that churches need to wrangle seriously with the true purpose of worship in order to employ the tools and forms that best enfold participants in the splendor of worshiping God. Only worship filled with the splendor of God, Dawn writes, will lead to genuine adoration of God and faithful formation of his people.

Dawn . . . is passionate about worship. . . . This isn’t a how-to book on worship. It’s a serious attempt to call Christians to think substantively about the nature of biblical worship. It’s also a penetrating analysis of postmodern culture and how consumerism has influenced worship leaders’ and participants’ thinking. This book should be required reading for leaders of any aspect of church worship.

CBA Marketplace

Helpful insights for moving beyond ‘worship wars’ and stimulating renewal in today’s church. . . . An engaging treatise on worshipping God. Recommended reading for believers interested in diving deeper into worship and emerging with renewed fervor.

Christian Retailing

Is It a Lost Cause? Having the Heart of God for the Church’s Children

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 1997
  • Pages: 264

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Is there a difference between children who have grown up in the church and those who have not? Why does it seem that many of the church’s young people make the same choices as the rest of the world about their sexuality, their use of money and time, their attitudes toward work, and their flippancy and cynicism? Are churches helping parents nurture and raise children with Christian faith and moral character?

Marva Dawn raises these questions in this book. Dawn challenges congregations, pastors, youth leaders and parents to take a hard look at what is happening to today’s youth. In a society where Christianity is no longer the dominant culture, the task of raising children with Christian life habits, integrity, and faith is far more demanding than ever before.

Is it A Lost Cause? is a wake-up call. Drawing on 30 years of experience working with young people, Dawn encourages congregations, pastors, and parents to embrace the church’s children with the moral authority, motivation, love, healing, hope, and home for which everyone searches. Dawn insists that we can indeed raise our children to look, act, talk, and think like people who are shaped by faith and offers specific suggestions for the necessary formation process.

This book is a must for all who have the heart of God for the church’s children.

CBA Marketplace

Highly recommended for those who want to know why our world today is so different from that of 20 or 30 years ago . . . This one should be in every church library and on every pastor’s bookshelf.

Trowel & Sword

Biblical . . . evangelical in tone . . . thought provoking. . . . Dawn argues that raising children with a heart for God is not a lost cause, but she avoids simplistic guidelines for parents and Sunday School teachers. . . . Helpful for any counselor who works with children or with parents who are concerned about their children’s values and futures.

Christian Counseling Today

Joy in Our Weakness: A Gift of Hope from the Book of Revelation

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Pages: 234

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Neither a commentary on the book of Revelation nor a devotional work—though it offers aspects of both—Joy in Our Weakness is instead a theological and practical guide that ushers readers into the very presence of Christ and his lordship over the powers of evil. Marva Dawn writes compassionately for those who suffer, for this book was born out of her own struggles with physical limitations and chronic illness, and it is intended to help the whole church learn how to find joy in every circumstance of life, especially in trials and sufferings.

After outlining some important foundational principles in three introductory chapters, Dawn guides readers through the whole book of Revelation, pointing out the errors of those who try to calendarize the end of the world and instead delineating how Revelation reveals Christ’s lordship, exposes the workings of the powers, and sustains those who suffer until evil is ultimately defeated. Now thoroughly revised for a wider readership, Joy in Our Weakness highlights Revelation’s original purpose—to comfort afflicted, suffering believers—and spells out a biblically grounded “theology of weakness,” offering a rare gift to the Church today. A wealth of insight and encouragement truly awaits the readers of these pages.

How often I have read the book of Revelation, each time discovering new depths. But reading it yet again alongside Marva Dawn’s wonderful new book, Joy in Our Weakness, I marvel at how much I have missed. Her second chapter is called ‘The Gift of Weakness,’ and Dawn, herself profoundly debilitated by brittle diabetes, uses the lens of her own weakness to bring us the gospel message in sharp new focus.

—Johann Christoph Arnold, senior pastor, The Bruderhof

Joy in Our Weakness invites us to discover the significance of Revelation for Christian faith and life. Marva Dawn brings questions raised by experiences, both the profound and the ordinary, to her reading of Scripture. As she reflects on the last book of the Bible, she helps us see the challenges, conflicts, and joys of life with new eyes. It is a book for the journey of faith.

Craig Koester, Asher O. And Carrie Nasby Chair of New Testament, Luther Seminary

Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 1989
  • Pages: 235

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

“But I don’t wanna go to church!”

Marva Dawn has often heard that cry—and not only from children. “What a sad commentary it is on North American spirituality,” she writes, “that the delight of ‘keeping the Sabbath day’ has degenerated into the routine and drudgery—even the downright oppressiveness—of ‘going to church.’”

According to Dawn, the phrase “going to church” both reveals and promotes bad theology. It suggests that the church is a static place when in fact the church is the people of God. The regular gathering together of God’s people for worship is important—it enables them to be church in the world—but the act of worship is only a small part of observing the Sabbath.

Combining sound biblical theology and research into Jewish traditions with many practical suggestions, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly offers a healthy balance between head and heart: the book shows how theological insights can undergird daily life and practice, and it gives the reader both motivation and methods for enjoying a special holy day.

Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacling of God

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Pages: 186

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

As we embark on the new millennium, uncharted challenges await the church. This volume by one of today’s most valued voices on modern church life offers a wealth of insight into the role of local churches in the twenty-first century.

Rooted in solid biblical research and extensive experience, Marva Dawn’s newest book will help churches and their leaders avoid falling to the temptations of contemporary secular culture, including the popular “success” models of church management. Dawn offers groundbreaking scholarship—from the first significant critique of Walter Wink’s work on “the powers” to a relevant new translation of 2 Corinthians 12:9—and challenges readers to rethink the goals and mission of the congregation, to develop practices that follow God’s “hidden” way of weakness, and to expand their sense of what it means to be a faithful church.

Complete with discussion questions, this book provides the trustworthy theological and biblical foundations necessary for building strong churches—and keeping them strong—in today’s world.

An excellent and timely book. . . . All those huge suburban churches which in the greedy ‘80s conformed to the culture’s reigning ethos of success in secular terms, will profit from this challenging book.

Catholic New Times

This may well be the best and most important book Marva Dawn has written. That, of course, is saying a great deal, since she has written quite wonderful books. In this new work Dawn uses her profound reading of Paul’s understanding of powers to illumine the challenges before the church. Drawing on the work of Jacques Ellul, she helps us see how the powers insidiously gain influence over our lives. Truly a wonderful book.

Stanley Hauerwas, Gilber T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School

This is the kind of writing and teaching that can save the church from being duped by the ‘deceitful tongue’ of slick contemporaneity—if we will only listen. Careful and honest exegetical work combined with years of frontline experience in dealing with the lies and illusions of our culture come together here as Marva Dawn brings clarity and urgency to the elusive principalities and powers.

Eugene H. Peterson, former professor of spiritual theology, Regent College

The Sense of the Call: A Sabbath Way of Life for Those Who Serve God, the Church, and the World

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Pages: 327

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Why is it so hard to serve God these days? Church workers suffer from low morale, while Christians of all stripes struggle to find their way in a culture fixated on sexuality, violence, and wealth. Expanding on her ideas in Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, Marva Dawn expands these into a way of life for serving God and the kingdom every single day of the week.

A Sabbath way of life, Dawn asserts, consists of resting in the kingdom’s grace, ceasing by grace those attitudes and actions that hinder the kingdom, feasting so as to radiate the gracious splendor of the Kingdom, and embracing the kingdom’s gracious purposes. To this end Dawn teaches skills such as learning to rest in prayer, saying no to busyness, enjoying one’s body as God’s temple, and embracing the cost of living as a Christian disciple.

Both frank and compassionate, The Sense of the Call will guide Christian servants into a more restful, joyful life of trust in God.

Last summer when I heard Marva Dawn preach in Toronto, I saw a frail human being—physically. But there was nothing frail about her reading of Scripture and her preaching. The biblical text leapt off the page and inspired a kind of gospel-fueled courage to be the church. . . . Dawn has a profound sense of call, not only for herself but also for the church which, in so many ways, has a frailty not always acknowledged.

Presbyterian Record

The Sense of the Call is packed with Bible studies, illustrations from church history, and personal anecdotes, all geared to convince readers of their need to be regularly reclaimed, revitalized, and renewed.


Inch by inch, row by row . . . Marva Dawn patiently (but not complacently!) works in the garden of God, this planting of sinner-saints in which we live and grow. She waters and weeds, cultivating holy and wise lives. She works at the center, where Jesus is at work with us. There is not a trivial or superfluous word in this book. Dawn is insistent and winsome—an American prophet.

Eugene H. Peterson, former professor of spiritual theology, Regent College

Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 1993
  • Pages: 186

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Aiming to combat the widespread confusion today regarding sexual issues, Marva Dawn offers here a clear biblical understanding of human sexuality. Her fresh perspectives in Sexual Character will challenge and encourage persons living in our sex-saturated society.

To establish the necessary foundations for new thinking about sexual issues, Dawn explains the importance of distinguishing between social and genital sexuality, discusses the forces in our technological society that jeopardize true intimacy, and outlines the “ethics of character” that forms the basis for discussion in the rest of the book.

Holding to a positive biblical vision for sexual character leads Dawn to raise many provocative questions that apply in very practical, relevant ways to such issues as friendship, marriage, divorce, teenage dating, homosexuality, and abortion. Dawn ends the book by putting forth a hopeful vision of “sexual shalom” for individuals and Christian communities.

Written in an engaging style, Sexual Character will benefit all thoughtful Christian adults—ministers, parents, youth group leaders, college students—and provide solid material for church discussion groups.

To Walk and Not Faint: A Month of Meditations on Isaiah 40

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 1997
  • Pages: 203

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Completely revised more than 15 years after its first printing, To Walk and Not Faint is Marva J. Dawn’s popular first book. Her devotional reflections examine Isaiah 40 as it deals with many of the critical issues of daily life. Dawn’s meticulous study opens up each verse of Isaiah 40 to challenge us with significant insights for faith and profound motivation for growth in discipleship.

The structure of the book bridges head and heart: it offers both exegetical depth and personal involvement for a month of devotional reflection. Each meditation observes the text carefully, considers some of the nuances and implications of the original Hebrew, and identifies how our lives fit into the bigger story of the biblical narrative. Thus, the book both supplies skills for biblical meditation and invites readers to contemplate God’s relation to all the cries of human existence, to realize how a relationship with the Trinity gives us the unusual ability to handle all the dimensions of life.

Truly the Community: Romans 12 and How to Be the Church

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 1997
  • Pages: 319

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Originally published in 1992 as The Hilarity of Community, this edition includes a new title, preface, and entirely new cover design. Truly the Community continues to be one of the best sources for understanding what it means to live together as the church of Christ.

Many writers, both secular and religious, have decried the lack of intimacy and community in our contemporary culture. Few of them, however, offer practical suggestions for counteracting the isolation and alienation felt by so many people today. But Marva Dawn does this and more in Truly the Community. Through an intensive study of Romans 12, Dawn offers specific guidance for building vital Christian community life.

The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call

  • Author: Marva J. Dawn
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Publication Date: 1999
  • Pages: 266

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Pastors are strategically placed to counter the culture. No other profession looks so inoffensive but is in fact so dangerous to the status quo. Their weapon? A gospel that is profoundly countercultural. But standing firm in today’s world isn’t easy. Powerful forces, both subtle and obvious, attempt to domesticate pastors, to make them, in a word, unnecessary.

In this book, two of today’s most respected authors help pastors recover their gospel identity and maintain a pure vision of Christian leadership. Marva Dawn and Eugene Peterson reconnect pastors with the biblical texts that will train them as countercultural servants of the gospel. Marva Dawn looks to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians for instruction for churches seeking to live faithfully in today’s world. In turn, Eugene Peterson explores Romans, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus, drawing from them the correct view of pastoral identity.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that should be required reading for everyone who is in ministry. . . . If you have enjoyed previous works by Dawn and/or Peterson, you will enjoy this book as well. It is a book that draws pastors, especially closer to God and encourages us to rely more fully on his grace.

Reformed Review

This is a rich book with much to assist both pastors and laypersons in shaping their biblical identity as countercultural servants of Jesus Christ.

Provident Book Finder

The book’s premise is that there are three ways that pastors are unnecessary: to what the culture presumes is important, to what pastors themselves feel is essential and to what congregations insist that pastors must do and be. The Unnecessary Pastor should liberate ministers from such manmade limitations and free them to become what God has called them to be. It’s likely not only to be popular with clergy, but also clergy-to-be, as seminarians could definitely benefit from its godly insights.

Christian Retailing

About Marva J. Dawn

Marva J. Dawn is a theologian, author, musician, and educator with Christian Equipped for Ministry in Vancouver, Washington. She is also a teaching fellow in spiritual theology at Regent College.


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