By Nathan Bieniek
More than two hundred years ago, John Wesley declared: “There is no holiness save social holiness!” He meant thereby to reject an exclusively individualistic version of Christianity, and to affirm his intention to “spread scriptural holiness across the land, and reform the nation.” In Wesley’s view, the spheres of influence denoted in the biblical terms “sin” and “salvation” thus have communal dimensions which both engage and encompass every individual life. This collection of affirmations of faith, based on sermons delivered from a United Methodist pulpit, stands under the long shadow of Wesley’s view. Sin is a corporate and cultural manifestation of separation from God. Salvation occurs through the invasion of God’s grace, remaking common life. Preaching describes the separation and announces the invasion.
Author information: Robert Allan Hill
In Science and the World’s Religions, experts with scientific and religious backgrounds explore vital existential or practical issues, drawing on whatever sciences are relevant and engaging at least two religious traditions. The multidisciplinary essays exhibit rigorous intellectual, scholarly thinking but are written to clearly communicate to educated adult lay readers.
The first volume addresses questions about the origins and purpose of the cosmos and the human project. The second volume investigates the roles of religion and spirituality in human existence, considering issues ranging from the brain and religious experience to the human life cycle. The third volume tackles controversies in which both religion and science are stakeholders, showing how both can deepen understanding and enrich human experience. Together, these three books present readers with powerful tools that enable them to think through the challenge of integrating science with their religious beliefs and spiritual practices.
Author information: Wesley Wildman
This volume contains Luther’s prefaces to the works of others from 1532 to 1545. Amid the outpouring of print in the wake of the Reformation, Luther–especially in the prefaces to his own works–sometimes expressed the wish that his own books might disappear and give place to the Bible alone. In his prefaces to the works of others, however, Luther developed the opposite rhetorical strategy, hailing their books as faithful guides to the Scriptures or as edifices that, because of their confession of Christ, would ”surely stand secure on the Rock upon which they are built.” Although he complained of the many ”useless, harmful books” with which the Gospel’s opponents flooded the world, the multiplication of ”good books” in print–of which there could never be too many–was a sign of God’s present blessing on the church in restoring the light of the Gospel, and Luther was pleased to encourage the works of faithful colleagues and friends. Many of the works for which he wrote prefaces he declared superior to his own for their insights, style, and more refined approach. Luther was grateful for help in the shared work of Evangelical literary production in all its genres, in constructive work as well as in polemics, and his prefaces give a broad survey of the Reformation’s literature.
Author Information: Christopher Brown
Never before in English, this volume presents Luther’s prefaces from 1520-32 for the writings of both colleagues and opponents. In Luther’s day, the preface was sometimes the most important part of the book. The preface used the most beautiful of language to praise the author, his work, and his arguments–and to decry his opponents. Publishers knew that having Luther’s preface brought instant fame to any book.
Some of Luther’s prefaces are short, witty, and incisive; others are as long as treatises, with thorough discussions of important theology. Satirical, earnest, tender, combative–in his prefaces Luther is all these things. Over and over, Luther calls his readers to remember why the Reformation was needed, and not to take it for granted.
Author Information: Christopher Brown
Examining the diverse religious texts and practices of the late Hellenistic and Roman periods, this collection of essays investigates the many meanings and functions of ritual sacrifice in the ancient world. The essays survey sacrificial acts, ancient theories, and literary as well as artistic depictions of sacrifice, showing that any attempt to identify a single underlying significance of sacrifice is futile. Sacrifice cannot be defined merely as a primal expression of violence, despite the frequent equation of sacrifice to religion and sacrifice to violence in many modern scholarly works; nor is it sufficient to argue that all sacrifice can be explained by guilt, by the need to prepare and distribute animal flesh, or by the communal function of both the sacrificial ritual and the meal.
As the authors of these essays demonstrate, sacrifice may be invested with all of these meanings, or none of them. The killing of the animal, for example, may take place offstage rather than in sight, and the practical, day-to-day routine of plant and animal offerings may have been invested with meaning, too. Yet sacrificial acts, or discourses about these acts, did offer an important site of contestation for many ancient writers, even when the religions they were defending no longer participated in sacrifice. Negotiations over the meaning of sacrifice remained central to the competitive machinations of the literate elite, and their sophisticated theological arguments did not so much undermine sacrificial practice as continue to assume its essential validity.
Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice offers new insight into the connections and differences among the Greek and Roman, Jewish and Christian religions.
Author Information: Jennifer Knust
Exploring Christian Heritageprovides students and teachers with a rich and substantial introduction to the texts that have shaped the Christian faith. Including significant works penned by Augustine, Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin, and Karl Barth, among others, this collection also highlights essential movements–from the second to the twentieth centuries–often glossed over in primary sources readers. From Pentecostalism and the Baptists to feminism and religious liberty movements, Exploring Christian Heritage succinctly integrates the most influential voices throughout Christian history and theology into one invaluable and accessible resource.Author Information: Rady Roldan-Figueroa
Arvo Pärt is one of the most influential and widely performed contemporary composers. Around 1976 he developed an innovative new compositional technique called ‘tintinnabuli’ (Latin for ‘sounding bells’), which has had an extraordinary degree of success. It is frequently performed around the world, has been used in award-winning films, and pieces such as Für Alina and Spiegel im Siegel have become standard repertoire. This collection of essays, written by a distinguished international group of scholars and performers, is the essential guide to Arvo Pärt and his music. The book begins with a general introduction to Pärt’s life and works, covering important biographical details and outlining his most significant compositions. Two chapters analyze the tintinnabuli style and are complemented by essays which discuss Pärt’s creative process. The book also examines the spiritual aspect of Pärt’s music and contextualizes him in the cultural milieu of the twenty-first century and in the marketplace.
Author Information: Andrew Shenton
Self, Culture, and Others in Womanist Practical Theology argues for a critical engagement between womanist theology and psychoanalytic Self Psychology. Sheppard’s position is that a psychoanalytically informed womanist practical theology will more fully account for the complexities of black women’s experiences of self and black embodiment as well as the role of religion and cultural objects in self understanding. This psychoanalytic turn allows us not only to examine practices of care in relation to black women but also to direct a psychoanalytic lens toward womanist theological anthropology, embodiment, pedagogy, psychology of religion, as well as psychoanalytic reader response to engagement with scripture. In the end, her work challenges and advances both psychoanalysis and womanist thought.
Author Information: Phillis Isabella Sheppard
In The Entangled God, Kirk Wegter-McNelly addresses the age-old theological question of how God is present to the world by constructing a novel, scientifically informed account of the God–world relation. Drawing on recent scientific and philosophical work in “quantum entanglement,” Wegter-McNelly develops the metaphor of “divine entanglement” to ground the relationality and freedom of physical process in the power of God’s relational being. The Entangled God makes a three-fold contribution to contemporary theological and religious discourse. First, it calls attention to the convergence of recent theology around the idea of “relationality.” Second, it introduces theological and religious readers to the fascinating story of quantum entanglement. Third, it offers a robust “plerotic” alternative to kenotic accounts of God’s suffering presence in the world. Above all, this book takes us beyond the view of theology and science as adversaries and demonstrates the value of constructively relating these two important areas of intellectual investigation.
Autho Information: Kirk Wegter McNelly
What is the value of religious and spiritual experiences within human life? Are we evolutionarily programmed to have such experiences? How will emerging technologies change such experiences in the future? Wesley Wildman addresses these key intellectual questions and more, offering a spiritually evocative naturalist interpretation of the diverse variety of religious and spiritual experiences. He describes these experiences, from the common to the exceptional, and offers innovative classifications for them based on their neurological features and internal qualities. His account avoids reductionalistic oversimplifications and instead synthesizes perspectives from many disciplines, including philosophy and natural sciences, into a compelling account of the meaning and value of religious and spiritual experiences in human life. The resulting interpretation does not assume a supernatural worldview nor does it reject such experiences as positive affirmation of this-worldly existence.
Autho Information: Wesley Wildman