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The (Im)Possibilities of Willardian Theology: A Review of Gary Black’s The Theology of Dallas Willard

Gary Black. The Theology of Dallas Willard: Discovering Protoevangelical Faith. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2013.   Gary Black’s The Theology of Dallas Willard is a rather ambitious work with a rather specific audience. The book is written to and for post-evangelicals—that is, for those who find themselves estranged just within or just without the circles of mainline evangelicalism[1]—and in it, Black attempts not only to summarize and to explain Willard’s thought but also... Read More

Choosing My Tradition

The term millennial—as in, that generation born between 1981 and 2000—does not tend to bring to mind the notion of tradition. Millennials, considered as a group, are not particularly known for rigorous adherence to particular traditions. Nor are they known for their “traditional” ways of doing things. That said, a number of commentators have noted a rising tide of interest in tradition in the spiritual lives of young people in this country. For some, this interest takes... Read More

Taking Semiotics to Church: A Review of Crystal Downing’s Changing Signs of Truth

Crystal L. Downing. Changing Signs of Truth: A Christian Introduction to the Semiotics of Communication. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012.   Crystal Downing offers an entertaining and anecdotally rich account of how an otherwise highly specialized and esoteric form of linguistic science can be deployed theologically to reframe perennial problems in the relationship between Christianity and culture. Drawing on the long-running but rarely discussed background influence... Read More

Call to Revival: A Review of Tim Suttle’s An Evangelical Social Gospel?

Tim Suttle. An Evangelical Social Gospel? Finding God’s Story in the Midst of Extremes. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011. Theological work is like children gathered around a table, playing with blocks—collaboratively erecting certain structures, contemplating them, and then tearing them down to their foundations and starting all over. It is like children working joyfully, modestly, and imaginatively. This playful metaphor is how Tim Suttle opens his book An Evangelical Social... Read More

The Possibility of an Evangelical Poet, Part Two

Editor’s Note: If you missed Part One of Ryan Harper’s article, click here. Louise Glück’s call for poets to embrace open-endedness are not new. She writes in the spirit of the great American poets of contingency—Walt Whitman, Charles Olson, and A. R. Ammons, to name a few. Although this tradition resonates with me, historically it has a troubling upshot. Demands for open-endedness often become entangled with endorsements of a dogmatic disinterestedness—the... Read More

The Possibility of an Evangelical Poet, Part One

I am not certain: what does evangelical Christian mean anymore? I see narrow orders, but any tight definition is limited, fraught with complications. I have met self-identified evangelicals who diverge widely in their Christologies and in their approaches to the Bible. I have met Christians who, by any number of doctrinal criteria, might be called evangelical but who do not self-identify as such. Despite my uncertainty about the specifics, I believe evangelical still means—something.... Read More

Neither Triumphalism nor Retreat: A Conversation about Faithful Presence with James Davison Hunter

James Davison Hunter, the LaBrosse-Levinson Distinguished Professor of Religion, Culture, and Social Theory at the University of Virginia, has a habit of writing very important books. His 1991 book, Culture Wars, shaped a generation of discussion about politics and religion in American life. And now, almost twenty years later, his new book, To Change the World, has generated widespread commentary regarding the shape of Christian engagement with culture. James K. A. Smith, whose... Read More

How (Not) to Change the World

James Davison Hunter. To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010. 368 pages. $20.12 hardcover (Amazon). It’s hard to resist the spectacle of the Wachowski brothers’ film Speed Racer. Their visual evocation of a kind of live-action anime hovers and wavers between surrealism and camp. For those of us raised on G-Force, the allure of this aesthetic is palpable yet unexplainable. But... Read More

Criticism, Commitment, and Cultural Engagement: A Review of James K. A. Smith’s The Devil Reads Derrida

James K. A. Smith, The Devil Reads Derrida and Other Essays on the University, the Church, Politics, and the Arts. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009. 163 pages. $12.24 paperback (Amazon). Click here or on the image to purchase The Devil Reads Derrida and Other Essays from Amazon.com and help support The Other Journal. It has become all too common these days for discussions of North American evangelicalism to transpire solely in terms of disdain, so much so that the very word... Read More

Telling Evangelical Histories Otherwise: An Interview with Peter Heltzel

Peter Heltzel’s Jesus and Justice traces the history of evangelicalism in America through a lens otherwise. While many evangelical histories recognize the significance of white leaders and theologians, Heltzel shows that black church life and spirituality also gave a vital witness to, and indeed preserved, the Christian gospel throughout the more treacherous moments of the American story. In this interview, Heltzel talks about his work, why such histories need to be... Read More