Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Review of The Earliest Christologies by James L. Papandrea


The Earliest Christologies: Five Images of Christ in the Postapostolic Age


The Earliest Christologies: Five Images of God in the Postapostolic Age
James L. Papandrea
ISBN 978-0-8308-5127-0
IVP Academic
Reviewed by Clint Walker

The Earliest Christologies is a fascinating little book about the way different people at different times viewed Jesus in the early church. Four of the five Christologies came to be understood, for one reason or another, as heretical. What Papandrea calls "Logos Christianity" is what survived as the standard for Biblically-grounded, faithful Christian teaching.

What is unique about this book is that instead of simply explaining what gnostics and adoptionists believed, and why they went wrong, Papandrea uses the imagery in the language and life of the early church to paint a picture of who each group believed Christ to be, why the image may be attractive, and where heretical language and imagery for God falls short.

This is a book from IVPs academic line, and it would certainly be helpful in a church history class. Many of our more well-read lay people in the church may enjoy an in-depth theological discussion on this snippet of historical theology as well though. I certainly did.

Book Review of Slow Church Study Guide by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison


Image result for slow church study guide

Slow Church Study Guide: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus
by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison
ISBN 978-0-8308-4130-1
IVP Praxis
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I recently reviewed Slow Church. The book is a tour de force on how the pace of our culture and the consumer-orientation of American society have been uncritically adopted by the church, and how churches can free themselves from that cultural captivity. Slow Church Study Guide is a helpful guide for small groups to go deeper into the message that C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison call for in their book.

I love the way this study guide is organized. The author's spend the introduction explaining the purpose of each section, and the designed pace of the study of the book. Then each chapter has a reading or poem to introduce the topic. This is followed by a meditation on Scripture, designed to be read through the practice of "Lectio Divina", then there are several conversation starters, which are questions and quotes designed to provoke Christ-centered dialogue. Each section ends with a closing thought. For an extra, as well as a leader prep, video references are included.

Grab this study guide and its accompanying book if you want to grow in your understanding of what church is, and how you can be faithful in Christian community.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Book Review of Slow Church by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison




Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus
by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison
ISBN 978-0-8308-4114-1
IVP Praxis
Reviewed by Clint Walker

A few years back, a documentary named Super-Size Me, created by Morgan Spurlock, took the nation by storm. In the show, he ate at McDonald's for a month straight. Most people did not think it would have that drastic of an effect, but in the end McDonald's food had adverse effects on his physical and psychological health, and led to difficulties with sexual functioning as well. Fast-food values of immediate gratification, ease of use, low-cost caused all sorts of problems--many of which were unanticipated.

C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison argue that in many ways, the contemporary church has embraced fast-food values to their detriment. As a result, many churches offer a spiritual fare that satiates and sells to many, but in the end does little to fortify participants' souls or to build a healthy body of Christ. They argue for slow church instead of fast-food faith, offering a non-anxious, patient way of being the people of God.

Slow church is grounded in its local community. It does not chase after every trend in church development. It sees church community as a mission station not a fortress. Slow church calls us to savor the gospel instead of simply consuming it. It calls for a unique, organic connection of the church family to the community around them, as well as the same kind of connection between participants in local church communities. It calls people to a healthy rhythm of work and rest, instead of using people up to meet objectives, goals, and institutional needs. It recognize the unique assets around the community of faith, instead of grasping for a one-size-all quick fix from an organization outside of the local community. The idea of "slow church" has, I believe, always been around. The metaphor of "slow church" calls us into a counter-cultural, non-anxious way of being the people of God.

As I read this, I am reminded that God's call is not always easily measured by human standards. And I am challenged to renew my faith that the narrow, faithful road is the right one.