BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 8, 2016

Cover ArtAncient Christian Worship by Andrew McGowen, and Reformed Catholicity by Michael Allen and Scott Swain, were recommended in Reformation 21’s 2015 End of Year Review of Books.

In my humble judgment, Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation, written by Michael Allen and Ref21’s own Scott Swain, deserves book of the year status. Allen and Swain present a vision for Protestant engagement with the Church’s past and the saints that populate that past that every evangelical Christian really should read.

A Vision for Preaching, by Abraham Kuruvilla, won an Editor’s Choice award in Preaching Today’s 2016 Book Awards.

Exploring Catholic Theology, by Bishop Robert Barron, was reviewed at Stuart’s Study.

At the Ligonier blog, Keith Mathison included Craig Keener’s Acts: An Exegetical Commentary in his post My 5 Favorite Theology Reads of 2015.

Cover ArtIngolf Dalferth’s Crucified and Resurrected was reviewed at Tabletalk Theology.

Crucified and Resurrected is a lovely, meticulously-argued, challenging work that resists simplistic pronouncements. One can only slowly work through it and leave notes in the margins. Readers will be fully rewarded for their efforts.

Alvin Rapien at The Poor in Spirit also reviewed Crucified and Resurrected.

The Accordance blog recommended Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek.

Spiritual Companioning by Angela Reed, Richard Osmer, and Marcus Smucker, was reviewed by Joshua Valdez.

Zack Ford, at Longing for Truth, reviewed An Essential Guide to Interpersonal Communication by Quentin Schultze and Diane Badzinski.


Susanna Wesley – an Excerpt from Spiritual Companioning

The following is an excerpt from Spiritual Companioning, by Angela Reed, Richard Osmer, and Marcus Smucker.


John and Charles [Wesley] were the sons of a minister and his wife, Samuel and Susanna, and they spent most of their upbringing in a remote English community.

In the context of near constant poverty and hardship, Susanna birthed nineteen children, ten of whom survived into adulthood. She took on the primary responsibility of educating the children and training them in the Christian faith. They were expected to follow a rigid routine that required respect for rules and adherence to ongoing devotional practices.

Cover ArtIn the middle of numerous pregnancies, infant deaths, and the responsibilities of a sizeable household, Susanna managed to give significant attention to her children’s personal spiritual growth. She companioned each child by creating a space for them to encounter God and to reflect on those encounters.

Several key qualities of Susanna’s companionship stand out. She regularly led the children in family worship, Scripture lessons, and prayer. Her methodical approach to prayer and other spiritual disciplines deeply influenced John and Charles, who would later incorporate this kind of discipline into their own ministry. Susanna also encouraged her children in their moral development, requiring them to respect each other’s belongings and practice confession and forgiveness.

She served her local community and educated others about overseas mission work. When her husband left for an extended absence, she welcomed a few hundred people into her home for evening prayers and readings about foreign missionaries.

Perhaps one of the most astounding things about Susanna’s mothering was her commitment to weekly spiritual conversations with each child, individually or in pairs, from early childhood until adulthood. She continued to provide spiritual counsel, words of encouragement, and the promise of constant intercessory prayer in her letters to John and Charles.

Susanna believed in the value of modeling a relationship with God by sharing her own joys and challenges in the life of faith. As she trained her children to interpret life through the lenses of prayer, theological convictions, and responsive action, she gave them a worldview and a language for recognizing the spiritual in the ordinary.

Susanna’s life reminds us that no matter what our sense of call or lack thereof, all of us have a vocation from God that we can live out. Richard Foster suggests that Susanna Wesley can be identified with the incarnational tradition of Christian spirituality. She viewed her home and neighborhood as the place where God is present and active, and she understood family relationships to be worthy of intentional spiritual companionship.

While she did not have a traditional profession, she did have a vocation in the biblical sense, a calling far greater than any one particular job. Susanna lived her faith in a way that focused on “making present and visible the realm of the invisible spirit.”

©2015 by Angela H. Reed, Richard R. Osmer, and Marcus G. Smucker. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


For more information on Spiritual Companioning, click here.


New Release: Spiritual Companioning

Cover ArtAmong the smiling faces in church on Sunday mornings are those who long for deeper, more genuine relationships within their local congregations–active, intentional relationships that nurture the soul, foster spiritual growth, and move past surface pleasantries into the real joys and heartaches of life. In a society that is increasingly fragmented, they are looking for a place to simply belong–to come home to other people and to God.

Pastors and lay leaders may use the increasingly popular language of spiritual formation and spiritual practices, yet they struggle to germinate a culture of honest conversation about the life of faith. Drawing on decades of experience in spiritual direction, congregational ministry, and seminary teaching, this book offers a clear and rich introduction to the theology and practice of spiritual companioning in the Protestant tradition.


“Everyone who ventures into a church today is looking for more than simply an hour of spiritual entertainment. From the depths of their souls rises a yearning to be part of a truly spiritual community, to be knit together with other seekers of holiness. This book unfolds how it can happen.” – Craig Barnes, president, Princeton Theological Seminary

“The authors of this book have rightly discerned that life, church, and community are about relationships. They have outlined those crucial phases of life where companionship is desperately needed. Writing in a personal and passionate way, these sensitive authors offer insight and guidance for modern, growing disciples.” – Ben Campbell Johnson, Columbia Theological Seminary

“A comprehensive, well-rounded exploration of the ways spiritual guidance can become an animating vision for healthy congregations and their leaders…This book could be a stimulating guidebook for discussions among pastors and lay leaders, in Christian formation committees, or in seminary classrooms. Readers will be inspired by the clarity and simplicity of this vision, which is nothing less than a return to the pulsing heart of the gospel: loving God, neighbor, and self.” – Marlene Kropf, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary


Angela H. Reed (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is assistant professor of practical theology and director of spiritual formation at Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, in Waco, Texas.

Richard R. Osmer (PhD, Emory University) is Ralph B. and Helen S. Ashenfelter Professor of Mission and Evangelism at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. He is the author of several books, including Practical Theology: An Introduction and The Teaching Ministry of Congregations.

Marcus G. Smucker (1931-2014; PhD, The Union Graduate School) was known as a pastor, teacher, spiritual advisor, and conflict mediator. He taught at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

For more information on Spiritual Companioning, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – October 2, 2015

Cover ArtSpiritual Companioning, by Angela Reed, Richard Osmer, and Marcus Smucker, was reviewed at The Christian Century.

The authors, practical theologians all, write passionately about the communal, relational nature of the church and the communal nature of the Trinity. They successfully skirt the individualistic ap­proach that is sometimes found in books on Christian spirituality, and they make a compelling, winsome case for why spiritual companioning is a gift for the church.

Jeffrey Weima’s 1-2 Thessalonians was reviewed at Spoiled Milks.

Conrade Yap, at Panorama of a Book Saint, reviewed Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense by C. Stephen Evans.

At Unsystematic Theology, Kyle Roberts reflected on Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns.

Scot McKnight discussed Andrew McGowan’s treatment of music in Ancient Christian Worship.

George Guthrie, author of the BECNT volume on 2 Corinthians, was interviewed by Oak Hill College.