This is a very readable, practical, and challenging book on the way of the cross and how it relates to modern Christian conservatism and reformed theo...moreThis is a very readable, practical, and challenging book on the way of the cross and how it relates to modern Christian conservatism and reformed theology. It's not a theological or political treatise, and it avoids too much hopeless idealism or dreary cynicism. Instead, it serves as a series of meditations on how Christ should shift and re-orient our thinking ("our" in the sense of modern, conservative, reformed Christians). Doug Jones raises a lot of great questions here and left me unsettled in a number of areas. It feels like he's pushing the right buttons, at least for me.
In the first part, Doug Jones sets out a positive statement of what the way of the cross is. Seven "ways" summarizing the way of the cross: weakness, renunciation, deliverance, sharing, enemy love, foolishness, community. The focus here is obviously on Christ, but he also does a great job of drawing each principle through the narrative of the whole bible.
In the second part, we get a series of short, essay-ish chapters on a variety of topics where Doug believes conservatism and reformed theology creates blind sports and barriers to the way of the cross. Each chapter is pretty punch, and he avoids getting caught up in rabbit trails, theological or historical niceties that can get pretty distracting. He makes his point quickly and effectively and moves on. Again, unsettling, and hard to hide from.
The final section is a few chapters of constructive suggestions, "Where do we go from here?" sort of stuff. It should become clear here that he's not asking every single person to go immediately sell their house and join a commune. It's an encouraging, hopeful conclusion and doesn't leave you full of either unreasonable idealism or guilt.
Also, make sure you read both hes preface on persuasion and his second appendix, which clears up some of the possible misinterpretations of this book. He isn't rejecting reformed theology. His issues are practical, and they revolve around adjusting priorities and emphases. Very important, but much different than a simple theological disagreement. He's speaking on a different level than that.(less)
Overall, the book was alright. It started out fairly strong, with Gottwald and Brueggemann (very interesting stuff on the economics of the ancient wor...moreOverall, the book was alright. It started out fairly strong, with Gottwald and Brueggemann (very interesting stuff on the economics of the ancient world), but went downhill from there, especially with some of the New Testament essays.
Not that they didn't have any interesting observations. Warren Carter's claim that the devil's temptation of Christ had anti-imperial undertones, since it implies Satan is the power behind the kingdoms of the world (Rome), added a nice new spin to the story. Overall, though, you could tell most of the authors were just reaching most of the time, trying to unearth empire everywhere they could. Efforts like that produce some gems, but more often you get pretty forced interpretations and a general flattening of the bible's complexity on the issue.(less)