Monday, January 15, 2007


I have been tagged by Will Samson from Willzhead to contribute my picks for the Best Theology Meme. Oh wow, this is going to be a challenge since I could probably choose a list that could span the distance of the earth to the sun. Obviously, part of the fun in this is seeing what everyone else chooses and seeing what influences others have.

The criteria for this is- the books have to have been written between the 1980s-yesterday; something that each of us views as a potentially or currently important in theological conversation; between 200-300 pages, and... the rest is pretty open.

I dunno how potentially or currently important these books actually are or will be, but the ones that come to mind have been profoundly important in shaping my theological/ecclesiological thoughts and practice.

Three Contemporary Classics of Theology

1. A Peculiar People: the church as culture in a post-christian society, Rodney Clapp, InterVarsity Press (November 1996).
When I read this book a couple of years back it was like I had found thelogical substance to affirm things that until then I had only inwardly felt about how I saw the church and I understood the world to be. Rodney Clapp is able to help Christians navigate through the waters of a post-christian society in a way that offers an alternative to old models of church and ministry.

2. The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Hoder; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 2nd edition (May 1994).
Ok, this book was indeed actually written (1st edition) back in 1974 BUT I believe we are just now catching up to it, and I'm choosing to consider it contemporary by choosing the 2nd edition of it. So I read this book when I was fresh out of undergrad and I wasn't ready for it. Yeah yeah, blah blah blah, Jesus was a radical and we as his followers should be too. I thought it was cool then. I read it again a couple of years ago and continue to pick it back up because of Yoder's profound and prophetic understanding of the radical call of Jesus to his followers to be a unique and peculiar community. Yoder's mennonite background offers a rich and spirit filled gift to the Western church I believe.

3. Liberation Theology After the End of History, Daniel Bell, Routledge; 1 edition (August 23, 2001).
Liberation Theology after the End of History assesses the impact of Christian resistance to capitalism in Latin America, and the implications of the theological debates that have emerged through its evolution. Using the postmodern critical theory of Deleuze and Foucault, Bell investigates the nature of capitalism, its effect upon human desire and the response of the Church to this social phenomenon, resulting in the most thorough account to date of the rise, failure and future prospects of Latin American liberation theology.

Three Lesser Known Works Everyone Should Read

1. Missional Church: a vision for the sending of the church in north america, Darrell Guder, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (February 1998).
I was wowed by Dr. Guder's book when I read it. It basically introduces readers to the missional perspective of ecclesiology and how in our north american context we must now consider american culture a "foreign land" where we need missionaries at work building relationships and inviting into our unique communities of faith. I hope someday to sit in Dr. Guder's lap and listen to him sing sweet lullabies to me with lyrics that go something like: "lalalala go to where they are and be the hands of christ... lalalala teach them a new liturgy and learn to speak their language..."

2. Theology Without Foundations: Religious Practice and the Future of Theological Truth, Linda Murphy and Stanley Hauerwas; Abingdon Pr (October 1994)
In this book Murphy and Hauerwas show how in a postmodern contect much of what the church has held foundational will not necessarily tranlate. What they offer is a theology and ecclesiology that is rooted in practicing one's faith through participating in a certain "way of life" rooted in the traditions and practices of particular communities (ie Christian communities). This was a great book and is very similar to Stanley Grenz's Beyond Foundationalism.

3. John Wesley's Moral Theology: the quest for God and goodness, Stephen D. Long; Abingdon Press (April 15, 2005).
Yes, I am a Wesleyan of the United Methodist tribe (who attends a Nazarene University- try and figure that one out), but even if I weren't I would still recommend this book as a must read. Long is a wonderful voice coming out of the Radical Orthodoxy conversation. If you are interested in a real theological look at the church, a critique of enlightenment culture and what the church needs to shed, reclaim, and move into- then this is a wonderful book for that. Long offers Wesley as a gift to the postmodern church and I believe he does rightly so.

That's all from me and now it's time for me to tag others:
Jonathan Marlowe, Eric Is Rad, and Theresa Coleman


Eric Lee said...

Great list! And, oh no you didn't just tag me...!

reverend mommy said...

Yowsa. I'll have to think about this... and you all may regret it!

Will said...

Nice. Guder's Missional Church almost made my list, and I think if I had finished John Wesley's Moral Theology it might have been a contender.

Mike said...

Huge fan of Guder's book! Right on...

Jonathan said...

No fair; you took some of mine. But I'll do my best.