BA Books & Authors on the Web – September 4, 2015

Cover ArtIn the Southeastern Theological Review, Jonathan Pennington, author of Reading the Gospels Wisely, dialogued with James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom and Imagining the Kingdom.

Smith’s insight into the power and importance of story made me sing here and he does a great job of articulating this. I want to affirm wholeheartedly with Smith that narrative/story/poetic/artistic truth is powerful and essential to our human existence. As Smith and I have both argued in our own way, there is an irreducibility to poetic or narrative truth. One cannot just take a story or poem, getting its “meaning”—defined as the propositional truth contained within the supposed husk of the story— and then discard it.

Yet—and this is a big part of my whole goal in writing RGW—this is precisely how we have often read and interpreted and preached the Gospels, as if their narrative form is at best something to get through to the real, meaty, doctrinal truth, and at worst is an embarrassment and inferior form of truth-telling.

Cover ArtKevin Vanhoozer wrote The Pastor as ‘Organic Intellectual’ for Leadership Journal, in which he drew from his recently released The Pastor as Public Theologian.

“On a regular basis pastors address the big questions – questions of life and death, meaning and meaninglessness, heaven and hell, the physical and spiritual. To be sure, no church wants a pastor to be an intellectual if this means being so cerebral and preoccupied with ideas that one cannot relate to other people. This kind of intellectual is so theoretical as to be practically good for nothing. However, the kind of intellectual I have in mind is a particular kind of generalist who knows how to relate big truths to real people.”

Matthew Montonini, at New Testament Perspectives, is looking forward to Francis Watson’s The Fourfold Gospel.

At Crux Sola, Christopher Skinner discussed his work with Nijay Gupta on a forthcoming Baker Academic title.



  1. Owen Vigeon says:

    Way back in the 1930s a Bishop of Carlisle [formerly head of an Oxford college]
    opined that there will be “no revival of religion in our country until there is first a revival of poetry” which sounds reasonably prophetic to me. I have long thought that the authority of the Christian message is discovered through the quality of the story it tells – or in a word – because it is poetic [in the widest sense of that term]. Souls are convinced because the story grips them and ‘makes sense’ in a non logical non historic manner. We do need a revival of public poetry in our culture – at the moment poetry seems to be a very personal art concentrating on the wonders of the individual poet’s private imagination. Hardly anyone buys it and not many care to publish it ! The power of the gospel lies in the quality of the narrative. If that grabs you, you can probably cope with the unlikelihood of the Incarnation and the Resurrection . If there is some truth there, then it is also true that the good news is powerless unless it is expressed in the right manner/form/ spirit etc etc. and that is an acquired art. I always remember a former newly appointed Oxford Prof of Philosophy who was also a devout Roman Catholic . He was asked on radio how someone with his brains could believe all that nonsensical Christian doctrine, He made the reply “It is what my church teaches me and I respect the authority of my church in these matters. Religion is not philosophy” [Obviously I am writing by memory from long ago but I believe the sense is correct .]