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Baker Academic and Brazos Press Spiritual Formation Collection (18 vols.)

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$273.55

Print: $364.95

Overview

Christian thinkers in the 21st century have given careful thought to the issues surrounding spiritual growth. With the Baker Academic and Brazos Press Spiritual Formation collection, you get a plethora of works designed to help you think critically about habits that lead to conformity to the image of God. Whether visiting the world of Narnia or sitting down with Jesus at the Lord’s Supper, these authors seek to aid you in living the Christian life.

Explore the role that technology plays in our religious conscious. Discover ancient Christian practices that will help you conform your life to the way of Jesus‐no matter which Christian tradition you hail from. Recover the sense of wonder found in a Christian understanding of work and play.

With Logos, these resources are made to work for you. Scripture references are tagged, allowing you to view your favorite Bible translations while reading along. Important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other information. Do better Bible study with Logos.

Save even more when you buy the Baker Academic and Brazos Press Ethics and Spiritual Formation Collection (37 vols.), which contains both the Baker Academic and Brazos Press Ethics Collection and the Baker Academic and Brazos Press Spiritual Formation Collection at an additional discount!

Key Features

  • Guidance on various topics in Christian formation
  • Various authors from divergent backgrounds
  • Tagged editions for easy referencing

Product Details

Individual Titles

iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual Lives

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Today the world is literally at our fingertips. We can call, text, email, or post our status to friends and family on the go. We can carry countless games, music, and apps in our pocket. Yet it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by access to so much information and exhausted from managing our online relationships and selves.

Craig Detweiler, a nationally known writer and speaker on media issues, provides needed Christian perspective on navigating today's social media culture. He interacts with major symbols, or “iGods,” of our distracted age—Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Pixar, YouTube, and Twitter—to investigate the impact of the technologies and cultural phenomena that drive us. Detweiler offers a historic look at where we’ve been and a prophetic look at where we're headed, helping us sort out the immediate from the eternal, the digital from the divine.

This is a wonderfully engaging romp through the largely American hills and valleys where theology and technology meet—a splendid contribution to the emerging conversations about what constitutes the good life in this age of information and communication technologies.

Quentin Schultze, Calvin College; author of Habits of the High-Tech Heart: Living Virtuously in the Information Age

Craig Detweiler is one of the best at interlacing theology and popular culture. With books on film and on gaming, and as the coauthor of a best-selling survey of the field, he now turns to consider technology and its effect on our lives. Is technology a gift or a curse? As we all sense, it is both. Engaging, well-researched, theologically probing, and sensitive to cultural change without either defensiveness or fawning, iGods will inform both addict and skeptic.

Robert K. Johnston, professor of theology and culture, Fuller Theological Seminary; author of Reel Spirituality

This volume has a timely aim: to temper the accelerations, distractions, temptations, and vulgarities of the Digital Age with a heedful remembrance of the Word of God. As digital tools creep down the age ladder all the way to toddlerhood and invade every space and hour of adulthood, Detweiler argues that conscientious people risk two extremes: succumbing to the avalanche or rejecting it outright. Neither one preserves what is best in digital experience, but we need a higher authority than ourselves to negotiate the right via media. Detweiler explains where that authority lies and in doing so provides one of the most important lessons in our time.

Mark Bauerlein, author, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future

Craig Detweiler is an author, award-winning filmmaker, and cultural commentator who has been featured in the New York Times, on CNN, and on NPR. He is professor of communication and director of the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Detweiler is the author of Into the Dark: Seeing the Sacred in the Top Films of the 21st Century, coauthor of A Matrix of Meanings, and editor of Halos and Avatars.

Good News for Anxious Christians: 10 Practical Things You Don't Have to Do

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Like a succession of failed diet regimens, the much-touted techniques that are supposed to bring us closer to God “in our hearts” can instead make us feel anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed. How can we meet and know God with ongoing joy rather than experiencing the Christian life as a series of guilt-inducing disappointments?

Drawing on his work with college students, Phillip Cary shows Christians that discipleship is a gradual, long-term process that comes through the Bible experienced in Christian community, not a to-do list designed to help them live the Christian life “right.” This lucidly written book covers ten things Christians don't have to do to be close to God, such as hear God’s voice in their hearts, find God’s will for their lives, and believe their intuitions are the Holy Spirit. Presenting a time-honored approach to the gospel that is beautiful and liberating, Cary skillfully unpacks the riches of traditional Christian spirituality to bring the real good news to Christians of all ages.

Yes! No! Whoa! There are so many terrific, alarming, insightful zingers in this book that I agreed, disagreed, and most of all, had to think about something on every page. Graceful and liberating, it is a word of wisdom and hope that just might convince anxious Christians that the gospel really is better news than we've yet imagined.

Andy Crouch, senior editor, Christianity Today International; author, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling

Evangelicals worry about lots of things, including the state of our spiritual health. Phil Cary is worried too: worried that evangelicals are suffering needlessly because they have imbibed a consumerist spirituality that offers much but provides little. Phil's prescription for spiritual indigestion? A turning away from the self to the one who continually speaks a healing, saving word to us, Christ himself. This is, quite frankly, one of the best books I've read on the spiritual life over the past twenty-five years. I heartily recommend it.

Christopher A. Hall, chancellor, Eastern University

Phillip Cary has clearly and convincingly explained why so many evangelicals are anxious and believe they may be failing at faith. I highly recommend this book to my fellow Christian counselors and self-doubting Christians because Cary richly explains the comforting good news of our identity in Christ. He thus provides a solid theological basis for correcting many deeply distorted beliefs about the self that propagate anxiety. This book provides the best treatment of this subject that I have ever read.

Christopher Doriani, licensed clinical social worker

Phillip Cary is professor of philosophy at Eastern University in Pennsylvania as well as scholar-in-residence at the Templeton Honors College. He is the author of Jonah in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible and of three critically acclaimed books on the life and thought of Augustine.

Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions

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In today’s high-speed culture, there's a prevailing sense that we are busier than ever before and that the pace of life is too rushed. Most of us can relate to the feeling of having too much to do and not enough time for the people and things we value most. We feel fragmented, overwhelmed by busyness and the tyranny of gadgets.

Veteran pastor and teacher Arthur Boers offers a critical look at the isolating effects of modern life that have eroded the centralizing, focusing activities that people used to do together. He suggests ways to make our lives healthier and more rewarding by presenting specific individual and communal practices that help us focus on what really matters. These practices—such as shared meals, gardening, hospitality, walking, prayer, and reading aloud—bring our lives into focus and build community. The book includes questions for discernment and application.

It’s one thing to clear a piece of land, move the rocks, rake the soil, and protect it with a fence. It’s another to bring it to life with berry-bearing bushes, exuberant tubers, vigorous vegetables, and many-splendored flowers. It's that second thing that Arthur Boers has done; he’s taken a theory and made it fruitful.

Albert Borgmann, professor, University of Montana

Arthur Boers has written an insightful, wise, and practical book for people who are feeling exhausted, bored, fragmented, or simply lost in a world of unending busyness and distraction. It is a gift for all of us who want to focus our lives on the places, people, and practices that deeply matter and that give honor to God.

Norman Wirzba, research professor of theology, ecology, and rural life, Duke Divinity School

I've been waiting for someone to write this important book. Herein Arthur Boers alerts us to the astonishingly overlooked “quiet desperation” afflicting our lives through the incessant distractions offered by our technological age. And he offers us practices that make space for grace and beauty and focus, which is to say, practices that create the sort of wealth that is the true longing of humankind.

Lee C. Camp, author, Who is My Enemy? and host of TokensShow.com

Arthur Boers is associate professor and R. J. Bernardo Family Chair of Leadership at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Ontario. He served as a pastor for sixteen years and is the award-winning author of numerous articles and six books, including The Way Is Made by Walking and The Rhythm of God's Grace. He speaks regularly at churches, conferences, and retreats.

Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants

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When Dennis Okholm began exploring the roots of contemporary Benedictine monasticism, he quickly found that St. Benedict has as much to offer Protestants as he does Roman Catholics. In Monk Habits for Everyday People, Okholm—a professor who was raised as a Pentecostal and a Baptist—uses his profound experience with Benedictine spirituality to show how it can enrich the lives and prayer practices of Protestants.

Okholm unpacks the Rule of St. Benedict—a practical guide for living the Christian faith and cultivating Christian virtue—by reflecting on aspects of spirituality such as listening, poverty, obedience, humility, hospitality, stability, and balance. His insights are invaluable to contemporary Christians, who, Okholm observes, have become consumers of religion rather than cultivators of a spiritual life. Readers will emerge not only with the desire to use the habits of monks to enhance their discipleship but also with the tools to start them on the journey.

Candid and engaging, Monk Habits for Everyday People is a valuable guide for Protestants seeking an accessible introduction to this classical resource for spiritual growth.

Twenty years in the making, Dennis Okholm’s Monk Habits is the perfect introduction to Benedictine spirituality for the earnest Protestant believer. In taking us on his own journey, he invites us to discover Benedict of Nursia and Benedict’s myriad faithful followers over fifteen centuries. This represents an important bridge between evangelicalism and Catholicism. Highly recommended.

Tony Jones, author, The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier

The practices of Benedictine monasticism have several times brought revitalization and spiritual focus back to the worldwide church at large. In this informative and irenic book, Dennis Okholm explains how the ‘rule’ of Benedict did the same for him personally as an evangelical professor and Presbyterian minister. The book’s winsome portrait of the Benedictines—and, through their monastic practices, of Christ—makes for a spiritual feast. The historically minded will also benefit from Okholm's careful discussion of why more Protestants should pay greater heed to the Benedictine life.

Mark A. Noll, coauthor, Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Catholicism

Dennis Okholm, a Benedictine oblate, speaks frequently in church and youth group settings and serves as assistant pastor at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Costa Mesa, California. He is also professor of theology at Azusa Pacific University and adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. Okholm is the author or editor of many books, including Monk Habits for Everyday People.

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks

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This volume unpacks the psychological insights found in the writings of three early monks—Evagrius Ponticus (fourth century), John Cassian (fifth century), and Gregory the Great (sixth century)—to help us appreciate the relevance of these monastic writers and apply their wisdom to our own spiritual and psychological well-being. The book addresses each of the seven deadly sins, offering practical guidance from the early monastic tradition for overcoming these dangerous passions.

As Dennis Okholm introduces key monastic figures, literature, and thought of the early church, he relates early Christian writings to modern studies in psychology. He shows how ancient monks often anticipated the insights of contemporary psychology and sociology, exploring, for example, how their discussions of gluttony compare with current discussions regarding eating disorders. This book will appeal to readers interested in spirituality, early monastic resources, and ancient wisdom for human flourishing, as well as students of spirituality and spiritual formation.

Dennis Okholm's Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins is a welcome addition to the growing Christian psychology corpus. Christian counseling needs better roots, and Dennis Okholm reminds us of the classic nature of what is at the heart of humans—a tendency to move away from the heart of God—and the fact that some of the best Christian psychologists lived before modern psychology was born.

Gary W. Moon, executive director, Martin Institute and Dallas Willard Center, Westmont College; author, Apprenticeship with Jesus

Okholm is both a careful and a broadly informed student of his subject, and the result of that happy combination is as intriguing and informing an overview of human foibles as I have ever seen. Pastoral as well as informative—in places even gentle—Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins gives us a theology both of human frailty and of the full panoply of yearnings resident in us as a species. In effect, it also gives contemporary psychology and especially Christian counseling their deep history by paralleling the contemporary with the ancients of the faith.

Phyllis Tickle, author, The Great Emergence, Emergence Christianity, and Greed

Dennis Okholm sets his treatment of the seven deadly sins in conversation with ancient monastic wisdom, godly psychological principles, and biblical truth. In so doing, he does not merely condemn vice but gently commends virtue and prayer to accompany us on a journey to the heart's true home: a life derived from and lived in the kingdom of God. It only takes a quick look at the news headlines or our interpersonal relationships to know that a fresh word on ethics is needed. I recommend Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins to anyone searching for such a word.

Todd Hunter, Anglican bishop; author, Our Favorite Sins

Dennis Okholm, a Benedictine oblate, speaks frequently in church and youth group settings and serves as assistant pastor at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Costa Mesa, California. He is also professor of theology at Azusa Pacific University and adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. Okholm is the author or editor of many books, including Monk Habits for Everyday People.

New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today's Church

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“It's hard to be a Christian in America,” writes Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a leader in the new monasticism movement in America, a growing group of committed Christians who are living lives of radical discipleship.

However, the movement doesn't mirror traditional monasteries--many members are married with children and have careers, yet they live differently, often in community in once-abandoned sections of society.

Wilson-Hartgrove founded a new monastic community and works with an alternative theological collaborative. In this book, he takes readers inside new monasticism, tracing its roots through scripture and history and illuminating its impact on the contemporary church. “Monasticism isn't about achieving some sort of individual or communal piety. It's about helping the church be the church,” he writes. A must-read for new monastics or those considering joining the movement, this book will also appeal to 20- and 30-somethings, pastors, leaders, and those interested in the emerging church.

It is my sincere hope that new monasticism will grow so strong and healthy and widespread that every follower of Jesus in every church has the opportunity, if not to actually live in a new monastic community, to at least have enough proximity and relationship to be influenced by it. This book can help that dream and prayer come true.

Brian McLaren, author, Everything Must Change

This book demonstrates how embracing the lifestyle prescribed by Jesus is a realistic possibility in our present age. It also shows how countercultural Christianity can provide a needed critique of our self-centered, consumerist society.

Tony Campolo, professor, Eastern University

This book is a scavenger hunt into Christian history and the abandoned places of Empire where the Spirit is stirring today. It's like digging around in the dirt trying to find the pearl we buried, the pearl that is so beautiful it's worth giving up everything else in the world for.

Shane Claiborne, author, The Irresistible Revolution

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a leader of the new monastic movement and cofounded the Rutba House community in Durham, North Carolina. An associate minister at St. John's Baptist Church in Durham, he is also the coordinator of the School for Conversion, a partnership among new monastic communities for alternative theological education. He is the author of To Baghdad and Beyond and Inhabiting the Church.

A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C.S. Lewis

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C. S. Lewis is one of the most influential Christian writers of our time. The Chronicles of Narnia has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and all Lewis’s works are estimated to sell 6 million copies annually. At the fiftieth anniversary of his death, Lewis expert Devin Brown brings the beloved author's story to life in a fresh, accessible, and moving biography through focusing on Lewis’s spiritual journey.

Although it was clear from the start that Lewis would be a writer, it was not always clear he would become a Christian. Drawing on Lewis’s autobiographical works, books by those who knew him personally, and his apologetic and fictional writing, this book tells the inspiring story of Lewis’s journey from cynical atheist to joyous Christian and challenges readers to follow their own calling. The book allows Lewis to tell his own life story in a uniquely powerful manner while shedding light on his best-known works.

This book has the essential quality of a biography—it's reliable.

Walter Hooper, C. S. Lewis's personal secretary and editor

Devin Brown has always been my go-to source for all things related to Middle Earth and Narnia. In A Life Observed he shows us Lewis's remarkable journey from hardened skeptic to one of the most joyful, thoughtful, and influential apologists in the history of Christianity. Like Lewis, Devin is a pleasure to read, and you can't help but feel a little smarter—and a little happier—when you finish this book.

Micheal Flaherty, cofounder and president, Walden Media

[This] is the story of Jack's real and true life—not the mere flash of the firefly in the infinite darkness of time that is our momentary life in this world, but the one he left this world to begin—and how he came to attain it. Brown helpfully works his way through the dross and difficulties of Jack's earthly life in search of every factor, every influence, every event, and all of the people who showed Jack where the narrow path lay and taught him where it led. . . . I grew up with Jack as my guide. This real Jack whom I knew walks the pages of this book.

Douglas Greshem

Devin Brown is a Lilly scholar and professor of English at Asbury University. A C. S. Lewis aficionado, Brown has written, taught, and lectured on Lewis extensively for more than ten years. He has authored a number of books related to Lewis, including Inside Narnia and Inside Prince Caspian, and lives in Kentucky. In 2008 Brown was invited to serve as scholar-in-residence at the Kilns, Lewis's home in Oxford.

A Beautiful Disaster: Finding Hope in the Midst of Brokenness

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Interweaving biblical insights and personal narratives, this eloquently written book shows how God often uses suffering and desert experiences to form us into Christ's image. Marlena Graves shares her experiences of growing up poor in a house plagued by mental illness as a means to explore the forces God uses to shape us into beautiful people in the midst of brokenness.

This book offers a window into suffering through the motif of desert spirituality, revealing how God can use our painful experiences to show himself faithful. While no one welcomes suffering, God often uses desert experiences—those we initially despise and wouldn’t wish on anyone—to transform us into beautiful souls who better resemble Jesus. Graves shows how God can bring life out of circumstances reeking of death and destruction, whether those circumstances are crises or daily doses of quiet desperation.

Readers who have experienced suffering and question God’s purpose for it will benefit from this book, as will counselors, pastors, professors, and mentors. It includes a foreword by John Ortberg and Laura Ortberg Turner.

A Beautiful Disaster is an extraordinary debut from one of today’s most promising new authors. In the tradition of the prophets, Marlena Graves sings a wilderness song, seamlessly connecting her own story to both the biblical narrative and the questions, struggles, and joys of all who travel the wilderness road. With a voice that is gentle and strong, passionate and mature, Graves invites the reader to pay attention, to be still and know God. Let those who have ears, hear.

Rachel Held Evans, author, Faith Unraveled and A Year of Biblical Womanhood

In A Beautiful Disaster Marlena Graves explores the spiritual wilderness with a host of fellow travelers from biblical persona to the ancient church to present company. She mines their wisdom about getting through life’s deserts and eloquently shares lessons she has learned through her own brokenness. There is something here for everyone who has at one time or another wandered in the wilderness and asked ‘Why?’ or ‘How long?’

Dennis Okholm, professor of theology, Azusa Pacific University; author, Monk Habits for Everyday People and Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins

To move through brokenness, we need to be both gently reflective and boldly courageous. Marlena Graves combines this unusual blend of necessary pursuits so that we don't simply 'get through it,' but move into a transformed life of flourishing daily in the Kingdom of God.

Jan Johnson, speaker and author,Invitation to the Jesus Life

Marlena Graves is an op-ed writer for Christianity Today's popular Her.meneutics blog. She is a member of Ink: A Creative Collective, the Redbud Writers Guild, and the Renovaré Spiritual Formation Institute and has written for Christianity Today, Relevant, and the Conversations blog. She has also worked in college residential life and speaks frequently to students and congregations about spiritual formation.

Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor

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In Dissident Discipleship, David Augsburger discerns two dominant strains of spirituality in the modern church. The first is focused on self-growth and self-enlightenment, and the second is focused almost entirely vertically by encouraging a deeper personal relationship with God. While there is a need for care of self and a deeper relationship with God, Augsburger shows that churches must nurture a third type of spirituality that combines the best of the other two types and adds to them a horizontal commitment to love of neighbor manifesting itself in service.

Augsburger points out that this robust form of Christian spirituality has implications that extend well beyond the walls of the church. An active love of God and neighbor, one that is deeply Christian, provides unique and needed answers to contemporary issues such as loneliness and world poverty while helping believers better balance this-worldly and other-worldly horizons. Dissident Discipleship will be a valuable resource to pastors, students, counselors, and all Christians interested in spiritual formation.

Spirituality, worship, evangelism, service, and discipleship have become shibboleths in our religious vocabulary, but how are they related to each other in our everyday Christian experience? With his unusual ability to flesh out the inner essential meanings of our religious vocabulary, David Augsburger, both a pastoral counselor and theologian, depicts a ‘tripolar’ concept of spiritual discipleship that relates to God, our fellow humans, and the world. The great strength of his work is its encompassing definition of discipleship that includes worship, witness, and service; attitude, belief, and behavior; piety, personal values, and ethical response.

C. Norman Kraus, author, Jesus Christ Our Lord: Christology from a Disciple's Perspective

This ringing call to faithful discipleship forces the contemporary church to make a hard choice: either obedience or apostasy.

Ron Sider, author,The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?

If you thought 'spirituality' was mostly vague fluff and feathers, get this book. Building upon his cruciform Anabaptist tradition, David Augsburger gives us a substantial, faithful look at lives formed by Christ.

William H. Willimon, coauthor, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony

David Augsburger was professor of pastoral care and counseling at Fuller Theological Seminary (now retired). He is the author of Caring Enough to Confront and Hate-work: Working through the Pain and Pleasure of Hate.

Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World, 2nd Edition

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In the clear and compelling fashion of C. S. Lewis’s classic Mere Christianity, Lee Camp here sets forth his vision of what it means to truly follow Christ in the twenty-first century. Drawing on a sound biblical framework of what disciples believe and therefore what they should do, Camp challenges Christians to put obedience to Jesus as Lord ahead of allegiances to all earthly authorities—be they nationalistic, political, economic, or cultural. To Camp, that means loving one's enemies, not killing them; evangelizing by showing Jesus, not just talking about him; and allowing God's grace to transform one’s notions of wealth. This substantially revised and expanded second edition updates examples, adds chapter introductions and summaries, and includes an extensive study guide and a reading guide.

What a book. This is one of those books that you wear out carrying around, marking up, and loaning out. Camp’s words are timeless, and timely. And the crazy thing is this: the church is actually ready to hear them. In post-Religious Right America, there is an entire generation that is not willing to settle for the dream of America over the dream of God. There is a hunger for a Christianity that is not just something we believe but something we live and embody, a church filled not just with believers and worshippers but with disciples. Lee Camp points us towards a Christianity that is worth believing in.

Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution, coauthor of Jesus for President

Facing being detained by the Australian government for outreach and peace building with those listed as terrorists, I found myself asking ‘How did I get here?!’ Lee Camp and his book Mere Discipleship have given me the confidence to listen to the still, small voice answer ‘By following me.’ This book is for those who might dare to believe in a Messiah who conquers not by the sword of war, but by a towel of service. A savior who makes holy not by exclusion, but by embrace. A church which is a sign of not what went wrong, but what God wills the world to be. A cross whose offensive is not a divine demand for blood, but the divine foolishness of God's unarmed love conquering death. A gospel not fire insurance for the afterlife, but of God's reign coming ‘on earth as in heaven.’ In short this book is for those who long for a Christianity that looks like Christ and seeks to witness to God’s dream for creation—the kingdom of God.

Jarrod McKenna, cofounder of The Peace Tree Community, founder of Empowering Peacemakers in Your Community [EPYC]

Mere Discipleship is the best single book on Christian discipleship I've ever read. Lee Camp insightfully dismantles the Christendom paradigm of Christian living to disclose what being an authentic disciple of Jesus looks like. It’s brilliant. I couldn’t recommend a book more than I recommend this one!

Gregory A. Boyd, author of The Myth of a Christian Nation

Lee C. Camp (PhD, University of Notre Dame) is professor of theology and ethics at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of Mere Discipleship and the host of Tokens, a popular radio show based in Nashville. Camp speaks regularly to university and church audiences and has served in various ministry roles in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Nairobi, Kenya.

A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth

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In this engaging and thought-provoking book, Tolkien expert Matthew Dickerson shows how a Christian worldview and Christian themes undergird Tolkien’s Middle-earth writings and how they are fundamentally important to understanding his vision. This revised and expanded edition of Following Gandalf includes new material on torture, social justice, and the importance of the body.

What are the costs of military victory? Is mercy sometimes too expensive? Can torture ever be justified? Are there any moral absolutes in a world of competing faiths and cultures? Matt Dickerson’s A Hobbit Journey traces these and many other issues through their surprisingly detailed presentation in Tolkien’s fiction. If anyone should still doubt Tolkien’s applicability and relevance to the twenty-first century, this is the book to put in their hands.

Thomas Shippey, author, J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century

Most fantasy novels are like amusement parks—full of familiar sights, sounds, smells, and thrills. But J. R. R. Tolkien’s stories, which have inspired legions of imitators, offer much more than amusement. They are countries full of treasure that will go undiscovered and unappreciated unless we learn how to be attentive treasure hunters. Matthew Dickerson writes as one who has spent his summers in the Shire, hiked every trail in Mirkwood Forest, taken counsel from Gandalf, and argued with Gollum and Smaug. It's as though he sharpened the tools of his intellect in deep conversation with Tolkien himself. He will prove to be a thought-provoking guide through Middle-earth whether you’re a frequent visitor there or a newcomer ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Jeffrey Overstreet, author,Auralia's Colors and Through a Screen Darkly

A Hobbit Journey instantly engages readers with its combination of scholarly knowledge and love for J. R. R. Tolkien’s work. Matthew Dickerson resists imposing his own rigid, limiting thesis and instead interprets the text by simply pointing out to fellow readers what is there. In doing so he illuminates the power of Tolkien’s stories to challenge, delight, and transform us.

Colin Duriez, author of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship and J. R. R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend

Matthew Dickerson is professor of computer science and environmental studies at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, and a popular speaker on Tolkien. He directs the New England Young Writers’ Conference at Bread Loaf and is the author of From Homer to Harry Potter; The Mind and the Machine; Narnia and the Fields of Arbol; and Ents, Elves, and Eriador.

Transforming Conversion: Rethinking the Language and Contours of Christian Initiation

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This volume offers much-needed contemporary theological reflection on the phenomenon of conversion and transformation. Gordon Smith provides a robust evaluation that covers the broad range of thinking about conversion across Christian traditions and addresses global contexts. Smith contends that both in the church and in discussions about contemporary mission, the language of conversion inherited from revivalism is inadequate in helping to navigate the questions that shape how we do church, how we approach faith formation, how evangelism is integrated into congregational life, and how we witness to the faith in non-Christian environments. We must rethink the nature of the church in light of how people actually come to faith in Christ. After drawing on ancient and pre-revivalist wisdom about conversion, Smith delineates the contours of conversion and Christian initiation for today’s church. He concludes with a discussion of the art of spiritual autobiography and what it means to be a congregation.

Transforming Conversion will be useful in evangelism, spirituality, missions, ecclesiology, soteriology, and practical ministry courses. Pastors, church leaders, and thoughtful lay readers will also appreciate this book.

Transforming Conversion is a welcome addition to the growing literature on conversion. With great skill, Smith explores the fields of biblical studies, theology, church history, and religious biography to develop new language to capture the complexity of conversion. Unwilling to be confined to the outdated and inaccurate language of revivalism, Smith articulates a holistic understanding of conversion to guide renewed modes of outreach for a church often paralyzed toward evangelism in the twenty-first century.

Richard Peace, Robert Boyd Munger Professor of Evangelism and Spiritual Formation, Fuller Theological Seminary

This is an important book and full of surprises. What appears to be a simple historical survey of ‘conversion literature’ turns into a serious work on the theology of conversion. Transforming Conversion is of ecumenical interest because Smith's attention to the doctrinal and sacramental aspects of conversion goes far to bridge the divide separating evangelicals from Orthodox and Catholic believers. It is heartily recommended.

Patrick Henry Reardon, senior editor, Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity

Gordon T. Smith is president of Ambrose University College and Seminary in Calgary, Alberta. He is also the president of reSource Leadership International and has taught at Regent College, Vancouver. He is the author of many books, including Beginning Well and A Holy Meal.

A Holy Meal: The Lord's Supper in the Life of the Church

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The Lord’s Supper refuses the rolling pin. It cannot be flattened into something of our own making. In the Lord’s Supper, the Triune God breaks out of the boxes we construct in vain to domesticate Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

That is the message of Gordon Smith’s A Holy Meal. He writes with the conviction that the holy meal instituted by Jesus continues to challenge our assumptions about the Christian life by showing us who God really is and how God comes to us in the acts of breaking the bread and sharing the cup.

A Holy Meal unpacks the many fruitful meanings of the Lord’s Supper, showing why they should be more prominent in the lives of individual believers and in the broader covenant community. The author’s irenic approach allows for ecumenical dialogue and celebration of the varied streams of the Christian tradition and gives attention to actual Christian practice of the Lord’s Supper, showing how different expressions can shed light on theological principles.

Hunger and thirst for the gift of the Lord’s Supper is an encouraging sign of congregational renewal in many churches. A growing interest in the theology of the Lord’s Supper is a hopeful indication of lively and ecumenical theological conversation. Smith’s book, a pastorally aware and theologically rich statement of the Lord’s Supper, is a valuable contribution to both congregational renewal and theological conversation.

Leanne Van Dyk, academic dean and professor of Reformed theology, Western Theological Seminary

Smith’s A Holy Meal demonstrates the richness of a thorough integration of exegetical, biblical, systematic, and practical theology. In the book, he sensitively leads readers on a journey of revisiting the key biblical texts, theological themes, and ecclesial traditions related to the Lord’s Supper. The exegesis is accurate, the theology is wise, and the implications are transformative for every Christian’s walk of faith. This is a must read for all those searching for the significance of this regular rhythm in the worship of the church.

Mark J. Boda, professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College

In a manner that is both trenchant and engaging, Smith calls on Christians to reconsider and embrace the holy meal ordained by Christ. Writing both to the contemporary Christian who may be skeptical of rites and to the believer who senses that the Lord’s Supper is central to the Christian walk but does not know why, the author takes readers through Scripture and church history, demonstrating the significance of this corporate action.

Edith M. Humphrey, associate professor of New Testament studies, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Gordon T. Smith is president of Ambrose University College and Seminary in Calgary, Alberta. He is also the president of reSource Leadership International and has taught at Regent College, Vancouver. He is the author of many books, including Beginning Well and A Holy Meal.

Seven Deadly Spirits: The Message of Revelation’s Letters for Today's Church

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In Seven Deadly Spirits, T. Scott Daniels contends that corporate bodies like churches form an individual spiritual personality of sorts, incarnating an angelic spirit that is the essence of a congregation. Cultural influences can impact the collective spirit or attitude of a congregation, either hindering it from becoming all God intends it to be or setting it free to glorify God.

Building on the work of Hendrikus Berkhof, Walter Wink, and Nancey Murphy, this engaging study provides a lens through which to understand the nature and function of the seven “angels” of the churches addressed in the book of Revelation. These seven angels, or deadly spirits, represent key areas of struggle that were destructive in the early church and continue to damage contemporary congregations. Seven Deadly Spirits renarrates into a contemporary context the seven angels that hinder the church, providing a rich category for analysis through which to discern the influences that can affect congregations. The book encourages professors and students in pastoral ministry, theology, and church growth courses as well as working pastors and lay leaders to consider a systems approach to church leadership—one that takes seriously the “powers” at work within local congregations—and offers suggestions for transformation.

Scott Daniels has given us a fascinating look at Revelation’s seven churches. In the process, he provides us with a unique look at our own church today. A challenging and helpful book.

William H. Willimon, bishop, North Alabama Conference, United Methodist Church

Drawing on pastoral wisdom, Daniels helps us see the life of the church through John’s letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. This is not a task easily done, but with great insight he helps us see ourselves as we are, not as we would like to be. We need all the help we can get and this book certainly helps.

Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke University

As we seek renewal in the North American church, we need more than cultural analysis or theological critique. We must address the consumerism, social arrogance, and other ‘deadly spirits’ taking over our churches by clearly proclaiming the Word of God concerning these issues. In Seven Deadly Spirits, Scott Daniels offers such a message drawn from the seven letters of Revelation. With compelling clarity and incisive scholarship, Daniels unfurls the meaning of these letters for the missional church today. Under Daniels’s scholarly guidance, the letters to the churches in Revelation become a prime scriptural resource for conforming the church more faithfully to the mission of God.

David Fitch, B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology, Northern Seminary; author of The Great Giveaway

T. Scott Daniels (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is dean of the School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California, and senior pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena. He previously taught at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma City.

Becoming Whole and Holy: An Integrative Conversation about Christian Formation

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How does Christian formation happen and what are its moral implications? This text brings into conversation three disciplines that are crucial for Christian formation—social science, biblical studies/hermeneutics, and ethics—to present a cohesive, dynamic vision of human wholeness and spiritual holiness. Drawing upon research in these three disciplines, the authors weave together insights from their respective fields to address the relationship between personal and communal formation, moral development, and the interpretation of Scripture. Becoming Whole and Holy reveals the process as well as the fruits of interdisciplinary dialogue, offering a fresh approach to understanding human formation. The final chapter, a case study on immigration, demonstrates the authors' integrative method. The book will be of use in spiritual formation, pastoral counseling, ethics, and hermeneutics courses and it will also be of interest to pastors, lay leaders, and counselors.

Becoming fully human before God and within the world cannot be a solitary pilgrimage. It should be a journey taken in community, a sharing among friends who together seek to know themselves and their Lord better and to minister more faithfully. In this book, a biblical scholar, a social scientist, and an ethicist sharpen one another’s appreciation of this need for constructive interdependence and integration. Pull up a chair and listen to this quality conversation.

M. Daniel Carroll R., distinguished professor of Old Testament, Denver Seminary; author, Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible

This is not just a book about Christian formation. In a surprising way, it also traces the paths of becoming whole and holy as its authors model their own growth in their interactions with one another. The process of offering and receiving guidance, the sculpting of practical wisdom, and the integrative journey itself are laid bare for all to see—and to follow. Here is a conversation worth joining!

Joel B. Green, professor of New Testament interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary

Becoming Whole and Holy is a compelling integrative conversation about spiritual formation that weaves together themes from theology and the social sciences in a very helpful way. This remarkably broad and balanced book offers real wisdom about both the end of spiritual formation and the means of getting there.

James C. Wilhoit, Scripture Press Professor of Christian Formation and Ministry, Wheaton College; author, Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered

Jeannine K. Brown is professor of New Testament at Bethel Seminary and author of Scripture as Communication: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics and The Disciples in Narrative Perspective: The Portrayal and Function of the Matthean Disciples. She contributed to The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary and has written for publications such as Journal of Biblical Literature and Catholic Biblical Quarterly.

Carla M. Dahl is professor of congregational and community care leadership at Luther Seminary. She has written for the Journal of Psychology and Theology and contributed to several books, including Leading from Within, Research Methods in Family Therapy, and the forthcoming Dictionary of Christian Spirituality.

Wyndy Corbin Reuschling is professor of ethics and theology at Ashland Theological Seminary. She is the author of Reviving Evangelical Ethics: The Promises and Pitfalls of Classic Models of Morality and has written for publications such as The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics and Ashland Theological Journal.

Gracious Christianity: Living the Love We Profess

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In today’s postmodernist and relativistic culture, Christians must contend with being perceived as argumentative, vindictive, and petty—along with the criticism that religion, in general, is a source of violence and destruction. These pejorative labels and connotations do not resonate with the fruit of the Spirit or with Christ’s mandate to love God and neighbor.

But graciousness is a nonnegotiable dimension of Christian faith. It goes to the very core of the gospel. It is what makes the gospel good news. Without grace and graciousness, Christianity loses its message. In this book, Douglas Jacobsen and Rodney Sawatsky offer a succinct proposal to recover Gracious Christianity. It is a concise but relatively comprehensive overview of Christian beliefs showing how historic Christianity supports graciousness in faith and life. The eight chapters cover God and creation, humankind, hearing God’s voice, the fullness of salvation, the Spirit and life, being church, the Bible, and the future.

Gracious Christianity will be used in undergraduate and graduate religion and theology classes, and it will serve as either an introduction to or a reminder of “the living faith” for believers from various traditions. Its broad-minded and ecumenical spirit will grant it a comfortable home in the academy and the church.

Gracious Christianity is a beautiful, intelligent, and readable introduction to Christian faith. It will be of help to people approaching the faith for the first time, eager to see it as a grace-filled and peaceable way of life and not as an argumentative and tensely-held dogma. It will also be a great help to people who are Christians but want to get a fresh vision of what their faith can mean in their lives and in our world.

Brian McLaren, pastor and author

I have never read a more lucid and compelling summary of the Christian faith. With its story of grace and love mixed with conviction and commitment, this is a book to ponder in one’s heart, to discuss with one's friends, and to savor for a lifetime. If I were not a Christian, I might very well want to become one based on my reading of this text.

Richard T. Hughes, distinguished professor of religion, Messiah College

Gracious Christianity is itself a gracious gift to all of us. In a spirit of loving simplicity, the authors offer us marvelous insights into the Christian life. This is a book to read and reread!

Richard J. Mouw, president and professor of Christian philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary

Douglas Jacobsen is distinguished professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. He has authored or coauthored such books as Scholarship and the Christian Faith and the award-winning Thinking in the Spirit.

Rodney J. Sawatsky was an administrator for church-related colleges for more than twenty years. He served as president of Messiah College from 1994 to 2004 and was the author of numerous scholarly articles.

Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure

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This fully developed biblical perspective of work and leisure finds the enjoyment of both as a holistic balance often missing today.

Leland Ryken is professor emeritus of English at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and the author or editor of nearly forty books, including Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible.

We Were the Least of These: Reading the Bible with Survivors of Sexual Abuse

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Much of what is written about abuse and the Bible focuses on the ways Scripture is used to hurt rather than heal. This accessibly written book provides a much-needed perspective, illuminating the good news of healing and liberation that the Bible offers survivors of sexual abuse. As a theologian and survivor of abuse herself, Elaine Heath handles this sensitive topic with compassion and grace. She offers a close reading of several biblical passages that have proven to be profoundly healing for her and for other survivors. The book is illustrated with stories and insights from sexual abuse survivors who have experienced healing through the Bible in order to bring hope and encouragement to victims. It will be welcome reading for those who have suffered from abuse as well as for pastors, counselors, therapists, and others who minister to them. Each chapter ends with two sets of reflection questions and recommended activities—one set for survivors and another for those who journey with them.

The journey toward healing can be a lonely one for survivors of sexual abuse who feel—and often are treated—like 'the least of these' children of God. Imagine the surprise ending: Jesus himself was the least of these! For Elaine Heath, this ending is just the beginning. This book fills a gap in the literature and I affirm its value as a professor, pastoral counselor, and minister.

Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, professor of pastoral care, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University; fellow, American Association of Pastoral Counselors

Sexual trauma survivors have long felt uncomfortable, out of place, and even ostracized within the church. For many victims, reading the Bible is a painful and even re-victimizing experience. Finally, Elaine Heath has provided a welcome reframing of Scripture for survivors of sexual abuse. We Were the Least of These offers a compassionate, theologically sound reading of biblical stories and shares a healing, redemptive perspective. As a survivor of sexual abuse and a counselor who has worked with hundreds of hurting victims, I highly recommend We Were the Least of These and thank the author for her invaluable contribution to our healing.

Marnie C. Ferree, executive director, Bethesda Workshops for Sexual Addiction Recovery; author, No Stones: Women Redeemed from Sexual Addiction

Join Elaine Heath in reading the Bible from the perspective of survivors of sexual abuse and see texts in ways you have not seen them before. This is not, however, just a book of new insights. Heath skillfully and pastorally weaves together biblical stories, stories of survivors, and reflection questions. It is a healing, liberating, life-giving book.

Mark D. Baker, associate professor of mission and theology, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary; author, Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross

Elaine A. Heath is McCreless Associate Professor of Evangelism and director of the Center for Missional Wisdom at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, she is a frequent retreat speaker and has experience as a pastor and spiritual director. She is also the author of The Mystic Way of Evangelism.