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Church and Postmodern Culture Series (7 vols.)

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The seven-volume Church and Postmodern Culture Series features high-profile theorists in continental philosophy and contemporary theology writing for a broad, nonspecialist audience interested in the impact of postmodern theory on the faith and practice of the church. This collection is assembled by a variety of contemporary theorists and uses insights from Deleuze, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Augustine, Irenaeus, Aquinas, and others to bring different angles to answer the many questions dealing with postmodernism and its impact on ecclesial practice.

Logos Bible Software dramatically improves the value of any resource by enabling you to find what you are looking for instantly and with unbelievable precision. As you read these volumes, you can easily search and access topics or Scripture references you come across, for example, “postmodernism” or “discipleship.”

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Key Features

  • Contains clear and concise exposition
  • Provides insights from some of the best postmodern scholarship
  • Compares and contrasts capitalism and Christianity
  • Analyzes the arts as Christian worship

Praise for the Print Edition

[This] series is not just a good idea; it is actually essential. If mission, liturgy, and pastoral care are to be effective today, then churches need a better understanding of so-called postmodern culture as something to be reckoned with and sometimes resisted. Increasingly, there is an educated interest in religion, but there is also a need to be well-informed about postmodern thought and its very complex relation both to postmodern culture (to which it is often actually hostile) and to religion. Again the need is for a critical appreciation—not dismissal and not empty adulation. This new series aims to provide this in an accessible manner. I am convinced that the main ideas of postmodernism are actually not as ‘difficult’ as people suppose and that a clear and simple presentation of them actually assists wider cultural discussion. An additional purpose of the series is to introduce to a wider audience theologies that are already trying critically to assimilate the postmodern turn. Since some of these, for example radical orthodoxy, are intensely focused on the importance of ‘church,’ it is crucial that this occur. Although it is already happening, it needs to crystallize. This new series may be just the thing to bring it about.

John Milbank, professor of religion, politics, and ethics, University of Nottingham

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GloboChrist: The Great Commission Takes a Postmodern Turn

  • Author: Carl Raschke
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Pages: 176

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The rise of the Internet and the proliferation of digital technologies have profoundly affected the world; it is not only smaller but also more interconnected. What role does the church play in this multimedia-dominated globe?

Carl Raschke tackles this question and others in GloboChrist: The Great Commission Takes a Postmodern Turn. In this volume, Raschke addresses the subjects of globalization, postmodernism, and information technology and their impact on missions and evangelism. In addition, he discusses the role that Christianity plays in an increasingly pluralistic world, providing concrete strategies for confronting the challenges. Raschke, in short, helps Christians respond to the tectonic shifts of the twenty-first century.

This excellent melding of theory and practice will appeal to a broad audience of scholars, students, pastors, and interested lay readers. GloboChrist will not only leave an indelible mark in the academic realm but will also create a lasting impact on culture at large.

Raschke’s style is vigorous, engaging, and fast-paced, drawing on a formidable range of scholarship. . . . A significant contribution which ought to be read by every student of contemporary Christian culture.

—Debbie Herring, Theology

GloboChrist is the unconventional title of an intriguing inquiry into postmodern patterns and ideas and the challenge to mission. The book is a confident statement for these uncertain times, a troubling of the waters that will stir complacent Christians in their assumptions.

—Lamin Sanneh, professor of world Christianity and history, Yale University

Carl Raschke (PhD, Harvard University) is professor and chair of the department of religious studies at the University of Denver, where he has taught since 1984. In addition, he serves as an adjunct faculty member at Mars Hill Graduate School and is the author or editor of 20 books, including The Next Reformation.

The Politics of Discipleship: Becoming Postmaterial Citizens

  • Author: Graham Ward
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 320

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In this volume, internationally acclaimed theologian Graham Ward examines the political side of postmodernism in order to discern the contemporary context of the church and describe the characteristics of a faithful, political discipleship. His study falls neatly into two sections. The first, which is the more theoretical section, considers “the signs of the times.” Ward names this section “The World,” noting that the church must always frame its vision and mission within its worldly context. In the second section, “The Church,” he turns to constructive application, providing an account of the Christian practices of hope that engage the world from within yet always act as messengers of God’s kingdom.

Ward’s study accomplishes two related goals. First, he provides an accessible guide to contemporary postmodernism and its wide-ranging implications. Second, he elaborates a discipleship that informs a faith seeking understanding, which Ward describes as “the substance of the church’s political life.”

Ward is well known for his thoughtful engagement with postmodernism and contemporary critical theology. Here he provides a broader audience with an engaging account of the inherently political nature of postmodernity and thoughts on what it means to live the Christian faith within that setting.

The quality of [Ward’s] diagnoses, the energy of his writing, and the vigor of his engagement make this a rewarding manifesto for the agenda of political theology and ethics today.

Samuel Wells, author,Learning to Dream Again

Extraordinary! Graham Ward’s The Politics of Discipleship is an extraordinary book. Ward does nothing less than help us see how ‘world’ and ‘church’ implicate each other by providing an insightful and learned account of the transformation of democracy, the perversities of globalization, and the ambiguities of secularization. Perhaps even more significant is his theological proposal for the difference the church can make in the world so described. This is an extraordinary book.

Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke University

Graham Ward (PhD, University of Cambridge) is professor of contextual theology and ethics at the University of Manchester. He is a prolific author and editor, whose works include Cities of God, True Religion, and The Blackwell Companion to Postmodern Theology.

What Would Jesus Deconstruct? The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church

  • Author: John D. Caputo
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Pages: 160

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

One of the components of postmodernism is the idea of deconstruction, founded by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Many in the church who are wrestling with ministry in a postmodern era would view deconstruction as a negative aspect of the postmodern movement. But John Caputo, one of the leading philosophers of religion in America and a leading voice on religion and postmodernism, sees it differently. In this lively and provocative analysis, he argues that in his own way Jesus himself was a deconstructionist and that applying deconstruction to the church can be a positive move toward renewal.

Deconstruction is not destruction but rather a breaking down of the object in question so as to open it up to its own future and make it more loyal to itself. This is because in deconstructing, the undeconstructible is revealed, in this case, the eternal truth of God revealed in the gospel. In this book, Caputo describes why today’s church is in need of deconstruction, deconstructs what he sees as some of the church’s idols, and points toward implications for the life and ministry of the church. Caputo’s lucid writing makes difficult concepts accessible, resulting in an appropriate text for undergraduate or graduate classes in philosophy, theology, and postmodern ministry.

While [Caputo] has the nuance and sophistication of an expert, his writing, as usual, is creative, playful, frequently humorous, and often profound. . . . Caputo provides an outstanding theological orientation to Derridean deconstruction.

—Brannon Hancock, Reviews in Religion and Theology

Caputo brilliantly manages to bring thought to life and life to thought. He wears his learning and scholarship so lightly that one has the impression of returning to a flesh-and-blood world where Jesus deconstructs and reconstructs our lives. Challenging, compassionate, witty, and wise, this book is compulsory reading for anyone concerned about the future of Christianity.

—Richard Kearney, Charles Seelig Professor in Philosophy, Boston College

John D. Caputo (PhD, Bryn Mawr College) is Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Humanities and professor of philosophy at Syracuse University. He is the author of numerous books, including The Weakness of God (winner of the 2007 AAR Award for Excellence in Constructive-Reflective Study of Religion), On Religion, The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida, and Deconstruction in a Nutshell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida.

Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church

  • Author: James K.A. Smith
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Pages: 160

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The philosophies of French thinkers Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault form the basis for postmodern thought and are seemingly at odds with the Christian faith. However, James K.A. Smith contends that their ideas have been misinterpreted. In an introduction and 4 fulsome chapters, Smith unpacks the primary philosophical impulses behind postmodernism, demythologizes its myths, and demonstrates its affinity with core Christian claims. Each of his accessible chapters includes an opening discussion of a recent representative film and a closing “tour” of a postmodern church in case study form—with particular application to the growing “emerging church” conversation.

[A] provocative little book. . . . A clear and accessible introduction to postmodern thought that no doubt de-mythologizes many of the common criticisms leveled against [it], causing us to engage the issues from a new perspective.

—Cynthia R. Nielsen, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? will be a boon for those working in and for the churches, especially in the world of evangelicalism. It will wean them from unexamined commitments to modernity and introduce them to a world of new ideas that are perhaps more useful to Christianity than they would have ever thought possible.

—Kevin Hart, Edwin B. Kyle Professor of Christian Studies, University of Virginia

James K.A. Smith is associate professor of philosophy and adjunct professor of congregational and ministry studies at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has penned Introducing Radical Orthodoxy, Desiring the Kingdom, and his edited books include After Modernity? and Hermeneutics at the Crossroads.

Whose Community? Which Interpretation? Philosophical Hermeneutics for the Church

  • Author: Merold Westphal
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 160

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In this volume, renowned philosopher Merold Westphal introduces current philosophical thinking related to interpreting the Bible. Recognizing that no theology is completely free of philosophical “contamination,” he engages and mines contemporary hermeneutical theory in service of the church. After providing a historical overview of contemporary theories of interpretation, Westphal addresses postmodern hermeneutical theory, arguing that the relativity embraced there is not the same as the relativism in which “anything goes.” Rather, Westphal encourages us to embrace the proliferation of interpretations based on different perspectives as a way to get at the richness of the biblical text.

Masterfully appropriating the insights of postmodern hermeneuticists, Westphal brings greater honesty to the interpretive practice of Christianity. . . . This book . . . should be disseminated at the threshold of every church and seminary.

—Christopher Benson, Christian Scholar’s Review

Westphal deftly navigates between hermeneutical despair and hermeneutical arrogance to arrive at a hermeneutic that affirms the vital importance of interpretation and yet insists that Scripture itself truly speaks. The result is not only a judicious and correct theory of interpretation but also a striking demonstration of what such a humble and respectful hermeneutic looks like in practice.

Ellis Benson, professor and chair of the philosophy department, Wheaton College

Merold Westphal (PhD, Yale University) is distinguished professor of philosophy at Fordham University in Bronx, New York, where he has taught for more than 20 years. His many publications include Postmodern Philosophy and Christian Thought and Overcoming Onto-Theology.

The Economy of Desire: Christianity and Capitalism in a Postmodern World

  • Author: Daniel M. Bell Jr.
  • Series: Church and Postmodern Culture
  • Publisher: Baker Academic
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 224

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In this addition to the award-winning Church and Postmodern Culture series, Daniel Bell compares and contrasts capitalism and Christianity, showing how Christianity provides resources for faithfully navigating the postmodern global economy. He approaches capitalism and Christianity as alternative visions of humanity, God, and the good life. Considering faith and economics in terms of how desire is shaped, he casts the conflict as one between different disciplines of desire.

Bell engages the work of two important postmodern philosophers, Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, to illuminate the nature of the postmodern world that the church currently inhabits. He considers how the global economy deforms desire in a manner that distorts human relations with God and one another. In contrast, he presents Christianity and the tradition of the works of mercy as a way beyond capitalism and socialism, beyond philanthropy and welfare. Christianity heals desire, renewing human relations and enabling communion with God. This book will work well for courses in theology and ethics, philosophical theology, discipleship, and Christianity and culture. Pastors and church leaders will also find it enlightening.

Dan Bell persuasively demonstrates that every economy presupposes a theology because they share in common the production, distribution, and communication of desire. Using Deleuze and Foucault without being used by them, he diagnoses the formation of capitalist desire and compares it to God’s ecclesial economy. This is the most thoroughly researched and accessible book on theological economics available today. Its breadth is impressive, its argument compelling. It deserves to be widely read and used at all levels in the university and church. Readers will be richly rewarded.

D. Stephen Long, professor of systematic theology, Marquette University

We need books that ask us to think carefully, and in a Christian manner, about what an economy is ultimately for. Bell’s The Economy of Desire enables us to go deeply into the heart of today’s economic activity so we can assess its inspiration in Christ and its participation in God’s redemptive work in the world.

—Norman Wirzba, research professor of theology, ecology, and rural life, Duke Divinity School

There is no getting around the cry for a just Christian economics in Bell’s argument, nor the vision for a virtuous market participating in the divine economy of salvation. Bell’s passion is prophetic, and this book screams out to be read in the new era of austerity that all of us are entering now. A revolution is needed, and it has to begin with a right disciplining of desire.

Graham Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Oxford

The most dangerous act in the world today is to believe, to desire. But desire alone is not enough. Bell’s book is radical because he teaches us not just how to desire but the content of desire itself—a desire for God, for the good, for something bigger than ourselves. The Economy of Desire is the manifesto for restoring dignity in the wake of injustice.

—Creston Davis, assistant professor of religion, Rollins College

In dialogue with postmodern philosophers and theologians, Daniel Bell delves perceptively into human desire and the ways desire is held captive by the culture and structures of capitalism. He matches his expertise in this endeavor with a sensitive and imaginative mining of the monastic traditions to elaborate a biblical economy of desire that serves life against death. The result is a rich portrayal of practices from which every congregation can benefit in this time of economic and political tumult. This book is a creative blend of urgency, realism, critical acuity, and spiritual depth.

—M. Douglas Meeks, Cal Turner Chancellor Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Daniel M. Bell Jr. (PhD, Duke University) is professor of theological ethics at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and the author of Just War as Christian Discipleship and Liberation Theology after the End of History.

Liturgy as a Way of Life: Embodying the Arts in Christian Worship

  • Author: Bruce Ellis Benson
  • Series: Church and Postmodern Culture
  • Publisher: Baker Academic
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Pages: 160

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Philosopher Bruce Ellis Benson explores how the arts inform and cultivate service to God, helping the church to not only think differently about the arts but also act differently. He contends that we are all artists, that our very lives should be seen as art, and that we should live liturgically in service to God and neighbor.

Working from the biblical structure of call and response, Benson rethinks what it means to be artistic and recovers the ancient Christian idea of presenting oneself to God as a work of art. Rather than viewing art as practiced only by the few, Benson argues that we are all called by God to be artists. He reenvisions art as the very core of our being: we are God’s own art, and God calls us to improvise as living and growing works of art. Benson also examines the nature of liturgy and connects art and liturgy in a new way.

This book will appeal to philosophy, worship/liturgy, art, music, and theology students as well as those who are interested in engaging issues of worship and aesthetics in a postmodern context.

This packs a lot of punch for a short book. Yet the tone is gracious, cautious, and often conversational. It signals a new ‘turn’ in worship studies: a concern for a theologically rich and culturally alert engagement with the arts in congregational worship. It deserves a wide readership and will doubtless provoke a whole series of fruitful improvisations.

Jeremy Begbie, Thomas A. Langford Research Professor of Theology, Duke University

Jazz music—so creative and free, so grounded and disciplined—provides a vivid and illuminating metaphor for reflecting on the internal dynamics of faithful and fruitful Christian lives and worship practices. This book pushes readers beyond any initial superficial appeal of this analogy to explore how it might radically convert our perceptions about the shape, tone, and sheer beauty of Christian discipleship.

John D. Witvliet, director, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

Drawing upon the rich resources of Gadamer, Marion, and others, Bruce Ellis Benson forges a distinctly improvisational vision of how the arts can be newly embedded in the fabric of our lives, our worship, and our communities. He also calls for the church to acknowledge the crucial nature of the arts for envisioning an incarnate spirituality that celebrates beauty.

—Bruce Herman, Lothórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts, Gordon College

‘Call and response’ and ‘improvisation’ are only two of the many ideas Benson fleshes out in this book. I appreciate these two especially because our culture has so misunderstood the terms ‘liturgy’ and ‘creativity’ (which is God’s alone). We need a philosopher to set us right.

—Marva J. Dawn, teaching fellow in spiritual theology, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada

Bruce Ellis Benson’s refreshing book critiques common ideas about art and liturgy that often limit our access to them. Drawing on a wide range of philosophy and theology as well as his own experiences as a musician, Benson engagingly argues that our lives are inescapably artistic and liturgical. He proposes that all art and worship are characterized by improvisation, which responds to what has come before but changes and adds to it. Liturgy as a Way of Life embodies such improvisation, as Benson builds on and weaves together ideas from the past and present to create a dynamic, helpful way to see, to know, and to be.

—Ted Prescott, emeritus professor of art, Messiah College

Bruce Benson has performed an important work for the church by demonstrating that the arts can neither be ignored nor merely confined to worship styles or outreach ministries. Benson’s theological and philosophical study of call and response opens up space for pastors and worship and arts ministry leaders to explore the implications of the aesthetic in the Christian life and in the life of the church.

Daniel A. Siedell, director of theological and cultural practices, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Bruce Ellis Benson (PhD, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) is professor of philosophy at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. His areas of expertise include contemporary French thought and philosophy of art. He is the author of Graven Ideologies, The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue, and Pious Nietzsche, and the coeditor of several books, including Evangelicals and Empire.


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