The question of what makes life worth living is more vital now than ever. In today's pluralistic, postsecular world, universal values are dismissed as mere matters of private opinion, and the question of what constitutes flourishing life--for ourselves, our neighbors, and the planet as a whole--is neglected in our universities, our churches, and our culture at large. Although we increasingly have technology to do almost anything, we have little sense of what is truly worth accomplishing.
In this provocative new contribution to public theology, world-renowned theologian Miroslav Volf (named "America's New Public Intellectual" by Scot McKnight on his Jesus Creed blog) and Matthew Croasmun explain that the intellectual tools needed to rescue us from our present malaise and meet our new cultural challenge are the tools of theology. A renewal of theology is crucial to help us articulate compelling visions of the good life, find our way through the maze of contested questions of value, and answer the fundamental question of what makes life worth living.
For the Life of the World is the perfect riposte both to critics like Richard Dawkins who say that Christian theology is good for nothing and to theologians who are so focused on God that they overlook the world. Volf and Croasmun argue that theology makes a difference precisely because it is about human flourishing. This is a brave and bracing proposal to rethink theology's role and relevance by recovering its original concern with the fundamental question of human existence: How do we live a flourishing life with others in this world, the home of God?
—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Miroslav Volf and Matthew Croasmun articulate with breathtaking clarity the urgency and weight of genuine theology. Our world's skepticism about the reality of transcendence makes theological work more important even as it becomes less prestigious. This is can't-miss reading.
—John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Church; author of I'd Like You More If You Were More Like Me
This is a timely work with which theologians across the spectrum need to contend--and there will be some contention. Volf and Croasmun mince no words in calling contemporary theologians to task for neglecting to offer theology that matters for the world. Theirs is a call to action rooted in the conviction that Christian theology really can make a difference. They want to persuade us that theologians have a calling to fulfill--to commend accounts of the flourishing life that can offer meaning in a cultural moment marked by 'creeping meaninglessness'--and they want to see theologians begin to fulfill this calling, now. Along the way they offer incisive analysis on how the conditions of contemporary Western culture affect our lives, our universities, our churches, our very ability to find meaning. I would have loved to have a book like this to expand my imagination for what theology could be as I was first discovering theology; I'm grateful to have it now.
—Kristen Johnson, professor of theology and Christian formation, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan
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Miroslav Volf (DrTheol, University of Tübingen) is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and founding director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture in New Haven, Connecticut. He has written more than twenty books, including A Public Faith, Public Faith in Action, Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World, and Exclusion and Embrace (winner of the Grawemeyer Award in Religion and selected as among the one hundred best religious books of the twentieth century by Christianity Today).
Matthew Croasmun (PhD, Yale University) is associate research scholar and director of the Life Worth Living Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He is also staff pastor at the Elm City Vineyard Church and author of The Emergence of Sin: The Cosmic Tyrant in Romans.