BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 14, 2015

Cover ArtIn the latest issue of Themelios, Christopher A. Beetham reviewed J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

“I strongly recommend this book. I agree with Donald Hagner, who, endorsing the book, wrote that ‘it could serve admirably as a basic textbook on biblical theology.’ Yes, and so much more. If every evangelical student from Anchorage to Addis Ababa would pick up and read, it could revolutionize global Christianity.”

Also in Themelios:

Gospel of Glory, by Richard Bauckham, was reviewed at Books at a Glance.

“Bauckham’s new monograph is probably the most important guide to selected Johannine themes and passages since Leon Morris’s Jesus is the Christ. A rich, up-to-date resource that no serious student will want to miss.”

Zen Hess, at Theology Forum, reviewed Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda.


And the winners are…?

Cover ArtCongrats to Chris Baca, Ryan Reed, and Jason Gardner, who each won a copy of Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda.

You will each be contacted to arrange shipment.

A Beyond the Book Giveaway – Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology


Beginning on Monday the 8th, this month’s Beyond the Book series will feature A. J. Swoboda discussing the themes of his recent book with Daniel Brunner and Jennifer Butler, Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology.

Today, we are kicking off our giveaway – three copies of Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology. The winners will be announced at the end of the month.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*US Residents Only*

BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 20, 2015

Cover ArtAt First Things, Phillip Cary reviewed Reading Barth with Charity by George Hunsinger.

Like all great theologians, Barth stands under the judgment of the tradition, even as he inspires us to new thinking within it. By his resolute insistence on knowing God only in the Word of Christ, Barth reinvigorates a distinctively Protestant witness within the tradition, which those who love orthodoxy would be ill advised to ignore.

Paul Adams, at ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, shared part one and part two of his review of J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

At Exegetical.Tools, Warren Campbell reviewed Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark Elliot, Scott Hafemann, N. T. Wright, and John Frederick.

James, at Thoughts, Prayers, and Songs, reviewed Bryan Litfin’s Early Christian Martyr Stories.

Allen Mickle reviewed Praying with Paul by D. A. Carson.

Micha Bales reflected on sustainability and ecological catastrophe in light of Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A.J. Swoboda.

Timothy George interviewed Mark Noll about his new memoir, From Every Tribe and Nation.

Richard Hess, co-editor of Ancient Israel’s History, wrote How to Judge Evidence for the Exodus for Mosaic Magazine.

At Bible History Daily, Andrew McGowan, author of Ancient Christian Worship, asked if Jesus was truly a radical and inclusive host.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – February 20, 2015

Cover ArtIntroducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda, was reviewed on Odd Is The New Normal.

What this book does, in its amazing depth of research, is gather together thousands of years of theology and tradition into a single place…You can tell that this book was coauthored by teachers (good teachers) in their ability to organize and present such complicated material in a manner that is approachable and enlightening.

Bob on Books reviewed Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation by Matthew Levering.

Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu, co-authors of Our Global Families, wrote a guest post for A. J. Jacobs’ Global Family Reunion.

At Transpositions, Brett Speakman reviewed Jonathan Wilson’s God’s Good World.

Jordan Hillebert, at Reformation 21, reviewed Atonement, Law and Justice by Adonis Vidu.

At Pursuing Veritas, Jacob Prahlow reviewed Thomas O’Loughlin’s The Didache.

Asbury Journal reviewed The Story of Jesus in History and Faith by Lee Martin McDonald, Understanding Christian Mission by Scott Sunquist, Christian Philosophy by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen, Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory by Markus Bockmuehl, and The End of Apologetics by Myron Penner.

At Solidarity Hall, John Medaille wrote Pop Culture and Total War, a reflection on Daniel Bell’s The Economy of Desire.

Andrew Root, author of Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, was interviewed on Dr. Bill Maier Live.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 23, 2015

Cover ArtAt Euangelion, Joel Willitts reviewed Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker by Andrew Root. Read part 1, and part 2.

We can’t dream of doing ministry unless we’re first willing to do life together. That’s where it all begins, as well as ends. Along the way, reflecting on a good read like this sure helps to keep a youth worker moving in the right direction.

James K. A. Smith’s The Fall of Interpretation was reviewed at Ellipsis Omnibus.

CHOICEconnect reviewed The Christian Faith by Hans Schwarz here, and For the Glory of God by Daniel Block here.

Peter Goeman reviewed John Dobson’s Learn Biblical Hebrew.

At the Denver Journal, Bruce Demarest reviewed Early Christian Martyr Stories by Bryan Litfin.

In part three of the Hearts & Minds Best Books of 2014, Byron Borger named Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, A. J. Swoboda, as the Best Book of Christian Creation Care. Also Adonis Vidu’s Atonement, Law, and Justice was given an Honorable Mention as an Academic Theology Text.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 16, 2015

Cover ArtByron Borger, at Hearts & Minds Books, named J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth as 2014’s Best Book Of Biblical Studies.

“What a book!…There is no doubt in my mind that this book is urgently needed — among evangelicals and mainline folks alike — to be fully clear about God’s promises of new creation, and how this vision of a restored Earth can animate and sustain our efforts for cultural reform now. Richard is an excellent Biblical scholar and has worked on this serious volume for years; the endorsements have been robust and exceptional, and early readers report it is nearly life-changing.”

Also in his Best Books of 2014 post, Borger gave a double award (Best New Contribution to Bonhoeffer Studies and Best Youth Ministry Book) to Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker by Andrew Root, and an honorable mention to From Every Tribe and Nation by Mark Noll and Reading a Different Story by Susan VanZanten.

At The Hump of the Camel, Jon Garvey reviewed A New Heaven and a New Earth.

RJS continued to discuss Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth in the post “The End of the World” at Jesus Creed.

J. Richard Middleton wrote “God’s Bringing Creation to Its Glorious Destiny” for The High Calling.

Chris Woznicki reviewed Reformed Catholicity, by Michael Allen and Scott Swain.

At First Things, Peter Leithart reflected on the discussion of Reinhold Hutter in Reformed Catholicity.

Reformed Catholicity was listed in The Aquila Report’s New & Noteworthy Books in 2015.

At Panorama of a Book Saint, Conrade Yap reviewed Effective Intercultural Communication by A. Scott Moreau, Evvy Hay Campbell, and Susan Greener.

Christopher Skinner, at Crux Sola, reviewed Chris Keith’s Jesus against the Scribal Elite.

Daniel Gullotta reviewed Ancient Christian Worship by Andrew McGowan.

Elodie Ballantine Emig reviewed Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek for the Denver Journal.

At Theosblog, Lawrence Osborn reviewed Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda.

At The Jesus Blog, Anthony LeDonne named Dale Allison’s Constructing Jesus as the best Jesus book of the 2010’s.

Robert Johnston, author of God’s Wider Presence, was interviewed in Tehelka Magazine.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 9, 2015

Cover ArtDerek Rishmawy, at The Gospel Coalition, explains “Why You Should Read Bavinck.”

“Bavinck’s accomplishment in the Dogmatics is nothing short of jaw-dropping. The expansive, nuanced, and deeply trinitarian theological vision is both intellectually challenging and spiritually nourishing. I anticipate turning to these volumes regularly in the years to come.”


Walter Moberly’s Old Testament Theology was reviewed at Euangelion.

Craig Blomberg reviewed A Peaceable Hope by David Neville, as well as The King in His Beauty by Thomas Schreiner, for the Denver Journal here and here.

Nate Claiborne reviewed Exploring Psychology and Christian Faith, by Paul Moes and Donald Tellinghuisen.

Chris Keith’s Jesus against the Scribal Elite was reviewed at CHOICE connect.

At Discovering the Mission of God, Ed reviewed Understanding Christian Mission by Scott Sunquist.

Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker was reviewed at Diglotting.

Michael Philliber, at Deus Misereatur, reviewed The Holy Trinity in the Life of the Church, edited by Khaled Anatolios.

Best Of

As 2014 came to a close, quite a number of Baker Academic titles were featured in “Best of” posts.

Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark Elliott, John Frederick, Scott Hafemann and N.T. Wright, was named as one of “The Top (Mockingbird) Theology Books of 2014.”

At Crux Sola, Nijay Gupta listed Chris Keith’s Jesus Against the Scribal Elite, Galatians and Christian Theology, Jeffrey Weima’s 1-2 Thessalonians, and Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth among the “Best New Testament Academic Books of 2014.”

Women in the World of the Earliest Christians by Lynn Cohick, Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society edited by Susan Holman, Scripture and Tradition by Edith Humphrey, The Economy of Desire by Daniel Bell, and Loving the Poor, Saving the Rich by Helen Rhee were all in Alvin Rapien’s “Top 10 Books of 2014.”

The Missio Alliance Essential Reading List of 2014” featured Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda.

At Reformation 21, Michael Allen and Scott Swain’s Reformed Catholicity, Simon Gathercole’s Defending Substitution, Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan’s The Pastor as Public Theologian, and Richard Bauckham’s Gospel of Glory were noted as “New & Noteworthy Books in 2015.”


Scot McKnight reflected on Alistair Stewart’s The Original Bishops in the post “Paul and the Economic Justice Vision of Jesus“, and Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth led to his discussion “Revolution in Eschatology Today?

Andrew McGowan, author of Ancient Christian Worship, wrote “Incarnation and Epiphany: How Christmas became a Christian Feast” for ABC Religion and Ethics.


Green Discipleship: What Makes a Christian Live Ecologically?

Green Discipleship: What Makes a Christian Live Ecologically?
A. J. Swoboda

In recent weeks, our book Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology has been published with hopes of helping Evangelicals enter into the ecological dialogue more faithfully. As Evangelicals, we are not interested in mere theological reflection or rhetorical nuance. We are interested in theological action. One of the consistent questions with which we’ve wrestled is: How do we actually get people to do this stuff? What motivates, awakens, and helps Christians begin to act ecologically?

As Jonathan Merritt, author of Green Like God, has written, one must cautiously learn to steward the knowledge that has been received with an appropriate response of mindful action; as knowledge increases, so does responsibility.1 Mindfulness simply isn’t enough. Thus, any form of knowledge that is liberated from the trappings of that pesky little thing called responsible action will lead to nothing more than a good deal of head knowledge. But head knowledge, no matter how brilliant, clever, or novel, does not directly move the sands of time. Action moves the world. For the Christ-follower, the endgame will never lie in the shallow waters of head knowledge. Rather, the endgame will be in foot knowledge. And hand knowledge. Or, we might say, green thumb knowledge.

Cover ArtAs pastors and theologians deeply invested in the good news of Jesus Christ for all of God’s creation, we’ve come to hold unswervingly to the idea that Christian faith is a faith of lived knowledge, not head knowledge. Knowledge minus life isn’t knowledge; it’s conjecture. Knowledge must have legs.

It is in the experience of doing belief that we enter into true belief. As it turns out, this resonates deeply with what environmental philosophers have been suggesting for years. In the emerging field of eco-psychology—a field that has examined the dynamic relationship between human cognitive processes and ecological realities since the mid-1970s—many have gone on to argue that there remains little to no traceable connection between formal Western education and living an environmentally friendly existence.2 In short: environmental knowledge simply isn’t enough. In fact, one might forcibly argue that the least educated—the poor, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised—live the most environmentally friendly lives on our planet today.

Only the rich drive Hummers.

If education and head knowledge are not the main keys to green living, what is? While there certainly remain many, we would like to stress that actual experience and personal interaction with God’s creation is the key to green discipleship. Experiencing creation is tantamount. As John Stackhouse has lucidly expressed in his book Need to Know, it was the Nazi bureaucrat with no experience of real Jewish people who could sit quietly in his office sending the masses to their death with every smooth stroke of the typewriter. It is without the experience of the real person that a sociopath can sit behind a computer screen and write hateful blog posts that do not lovingly take into account the individual at whom they are aimed. It is the lack of lived experience in the real church that leads academics and theologians to do work that has absolutely no bearing on real life.3

And it is those who lack a real experience of creation who will be most likely to destroy it—knowingly or not. When we know creation, we are more likely to love it and tend it.

As a group of writers we’ve come to confess that while theology, Scripture, Christian history, and environmental philosophy have affected us deeply, nothing, save the mercy of Jesus Christ, has caused us to have a deeper love for God’s creation and a passion to care for it than the lived experience of having known it personally. Our desire to serve God’s creation was birthed during hikes, camping trips, fishing adventures, days in the hammock, and awe-inspiring moments on the mountain.

One can offer promises that they will do better to care for God’s creation while doing nothing about it. Another can stay silent and do it bravely. Which is better? In the Parable of the Two Sons (Matt. 21:28–32), we find Jesus’s teaching put in similar terms. Jesus contrasts two sons of a vineyard owner. To one, the owner commands to go to work. The son says no but eventually goes. Then the father says the same thing to the other son. He says yes but never makes it to his place of work. Jesus asks his audience who it is “that did the Father’s will?” Of course, it is the son who did what was asked, not the son who only said he would.

In the words of St. Augustine, love is action. Love isn’t talk. Love isn’t promises. Love isn’t a treaty. Love is action, personal action. While one son over-promises and under-delivers, the other under-promises and over-delivers. In this framework of discipleship, love never stops short of action. It always enters into it. Lesslie Newbigin loved to say that discipleship was the single act of believing and standing up to follow Jesus, to leave nets, boats, families, and homes. Knowledge is knowledge so long as it has caloric implications. The disciples’ knowledge became true knowledge the moment it was metabolized by their actual following.

Discipleship happens as it is being done. And the truth is the same for tending the garden. Green discipleship takes place as we do it. Not in our promises to do it. Not in our commitments. Not in our guilt and shame. Green discipleship happens as we stand up and follow Jesus. It happens as we learn to recycle. It happens as we enter into sabbath. It happens as we begin to pay attention to where our chocolate comes from. It happens when our knowledge and action are wed.


1 Jonathan Merritt, Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet (NY: FaithWords, 2010), 113.
2 One such study is found at Anja Kollmuss and Julian Agyman, “Mind the Gap: Why Do People Act Environmentally and What Are the Barriers to pro-Environmental Behavior?,” Environmental Education Research 8, no. 3 (2002): 239–60. They are explicitly clear: environmental knowledge alone does not necessarily lead to ecological living.
3 John G. Stackhouse Jr., Need to Know: Vocation as the Heart of Christian Epistemology (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014), 97.

Calvin’s Theology of Creation – an Excerpt from Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology

The following is an excerpt from Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda.


Cover ArtJohn Calvin’s (1509–1564) theological work on Creation represents, according to Anna Case-Winters, “a rich and too seldom consulted resource for any who work at a Christian theology of nature. . . . In Calvin’s theology, God has a relation to all of creation not just to human beings.”

Calvin’s doctrine of Creation was rooted firmly in his understanding of God’s providence: God is wholly faithful to the created order of the universe. An anxious relationship between Creation and providence was an increasingly prominent theme in Calvin’s writing.

To Calvin, God’s natural order is fragile and fearful: “All the fierce animals you see are armed for your destruction. But if you try to shut yourself up in a walled garden, seemingly delightful, there a serpent sometimes lies hidden. . . . Amid these tribulations must not man be most miserable, since, but half alive in life, he weakly draws his anxious and languid breath, as if he had a sword perpetually hanging over his neck?”

Reading these words from his Institutes one gains a sense of why providence was so central to Calvin’s theology. Only reliance on divine providence can set a person free from the chaos and angst of the created world.

Creation might be terrifying, but it is also “the theater of God’s glory.” Calvin zealously scorned any human-made image of God, and yet his love for the created wonders of God’s hand has led one interpreter to refer to him as “the creation-intoxicated theologian.”

In a striking passage, Calvin writes that “this skillful ordering of the universe is for us a sort of mirror in which we can contemplate God, who is the otherwise invisible.” For Calvin, Christians are invited to look into the mirror of the natural world and reflect on the providence, attributes, vastness, and purposes of God.

©2014 by Daniel L. Brunner, Jennifer L. Butler, and A. J. Swoboda. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


For more information on Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology, click here.