“I’m not suggesting we need less thinking; my point is that we need more than thinking. And we need to think carefully about the limits of thought (I tried to tease this out in the opening of Imagining, with a hat tip to Proust). That’s not a paradox; that’s intellectual honesty.”
“How we name things determines how we are going to relate to them. I don’t treat a “weed” the same way as I treat a “flower” even though both are plants. If the world is a “store” we will position ourselves as consumers. If the world is God’s “creation,” and we appreciate what that name means, then we will have to position ourselves in unique ways.”
“Along the way, as Anatolios directs, the reader proceeds beyond the coherence of Nicaea to its beauty and truth. In this refusal to separate doctrine and spirituality, action and reflection, Retrieving Nicaea provides a lasting contribution to both church and academy.”
James K.A. Smith was interviewed at The Living Church.
Could you briefly describe your own academic trilogy?
Desiring the Kingdom (2009) is an overview account of human beings as liturgical animals, so reading culture liturgically. Also, what would Christian education look like? Imagining the Kingdom (2013) covers how worship works. Awaiting the King (2017), its working title, will focus on political theology. If the body of Christ is the outpost of the city of God, how does that shape us for political engagement? How does it also relativize our tendency to partisan ideologies? I want to rewrite Augustine’s City of God for the 21st century. Augustine’s analysis of the Roman Empire is liturgical and so he’s looking at the rites of Rome.”
“Principles of moral interpretation such as that of charity have become all the more pressing to adopt and practice as our internet age has pressed even more of our communication to be textually-mediated. We are constantly reading, interpreting, and engaging with the texts of other authors, other citizens of language like ourselves. If we fail to practice charity in interpretation, one of our most socially and morally formative practices, it can’t help but bleed out into other areas of our thought and life.”
James K.A. Smith – author of numerous books, including Imagining the Kingdom, Who’s Afraid of Relativism? , and the forthcoming You are What You Love from Brazos Press – will be speaking at the Desiring the Kingdom conference and the Center for Pastor Theologians.
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.
“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.”
At Crux Sola, Christopher Skinner discussed his work with Nijay Gupta on a forthcoming Baker Academic title.
“Porter’s work will not only benefit the student as a substantial introduction to the many issues involved with the production, establishment, and transmission of the Greek New Testament, but it will also function as an excellence recourse for further study.”
“Many of us still struggle with reconciling the ideas of leisure and spirituality. After reading Heintzman’s book, these are a bit less of an oxymoron for me.”
“I cannot say enough about how important and well done this book is and how, if you are a preacher, you should buy it, read it slowly, and carefully consider how you will challenge your congregation to live up to the high call of God.”
Brian Walsh, at Empire Remixed, reviewed J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth, and used James K. A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom to work out how Middleton’s reimagining of eschatology might reshape Christian practice.
For Smith, the most foundational concrete practice is worship. The true story will only shape our perception of the world and transform our character if we learn it “by heart,” at “a gut level.”…And here we see the most powerful contribution of A New Heaven and a New Earth. In this exercise in biblical theology, Richard has powerfully, comprehensively and convincingly opened up the normative shape of the Christian story.
The World of the New Testament is a comprehensive resource for understanding the various contexts of the New Testament writings, especially for those who may be less familiar with the context of the New Testament. Particularly noteworthy is the breadth of subject matter covered and the annotated bibliography at the end of each essay.
I cannot recommend Imagining the Kingdom highly enough. It’s a much needed corrective for the Church especially in our current climate where secular liturgies often are more formative. Christians have failed to tell and live our story in a way that’s believable and affective.
“This is an excellent book, a profound theological evaluation of worship. It should be required reading for every pastor or minister, especially those who lead worship.”
“Few in the church have been encouraged to think theologically about encounters with God that take place outside the church and its scripture. The result is a disconnect between how the church speaks formally of God’s self-revelation and how those who are not Christians speak of that same reality.”
“Jensen does a magnificent job of presenting these five core motifs of baptism in early Christian documents and art. Her excellent knowledge of ancient literature is evident and her analysis of art forms very enlightening….Any student of early church history and theology will appreciate its value.”