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Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times

(Resonate #3)

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  645 ratings  ·  107 reviews
When Soong-Chan Rah planted an urban church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his first full sermon series was a six-week exposition of the book of Lamentations. Preaching on an obscure, depressing Old Testament book was probably not the most seeker-sensitive way to launch a church. But it shaped their community with a radically countercultural perspective.

The American church
Kindle Edition, 225 pages
Published October 3rd 2015 by IVP Books
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Akash Ahuja
A very good book, but don't read it like I did. Read it with people, in a small group. The weakness of this book is that it calls to action, but it necessitates a community response, and as an individual, you can feel a little powerless. Still, excellent work and especially for Christians who are just starting to venture into the waters of engaging in racial reconciliation to mend our broken world
I absolutely agree with what Dr. Rah has to say in Prophetic Lament, and I will be chewing on and wrestling with this book for a while. There is so much said in the pages that needs to be said.

I struggled toward the second half of the book as the ongoing chronology of going through the book of Lamentations led to repetitiveness and briefly inserted asides to modern justice thoughts. I found myself reflecting on the current state of American society while reading his exegesis but was thrown off
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my dialogue partners in Advent has been Soong-Chan Rah's Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times. Rah teaches at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, is a sought after speaker and the author of The Next Evangelicalism (IVP, 2009). In this earlier book, Rah explored the current 'white captivity' of Evangelicalism and the shift of its locus to East and to the global south. Prophetic Lament offers a similar critique. Delving into the book of Lamentations, Rah illustrate ...more
Luke Hillier
I've been looking forward to this for a while -both because I loved The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity and because of a deep interest in the subject at hand- and while I did enjoy it, it wasn't necessarily what I had hoped. I think my expectations had been a more general exploration of the practice of lament and the theology behind it, as well as the implications that it has and the role it serves within prophetic/justice work. While that is certainly pre ...more
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: A commentary and exposition of the book of Lamentations that advocates for the restoration of the practice of lament as part of the worship of American churches, particularly majority culture evangelical churches.

Have you every experienced terrible suffering, or terrible loss, or have witnessed horrible events such as have dominated our news of late and been deeply moved to turmoil and grief that cries out to God, or even the four walls around you, "how long?" Now, when was the last tim
This book comes highly recommended from my Asian-American friends, and after reading it, I can see why. The book gives us an exposition of Lamentations and in the process gives us a thought-provoking criticism of the Western church and our triumphalism.

The book switches between an exposition of Lamentations and modern day applications. The exegesis of Lamentations is well researched and helps the reader understand the text of scripture well. It is not trying to be a verse by verse commentary, an
Logan Maloney
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Really incredible book! Everyone should definitely read this book to learn how the book of Lamentations is a prophetic lament looking towards today's times. There were a few times that went over my head (specifically talking about the poem structures and how important that was) and was a little dry in those spots. Really loved when he talked through the ways we should lament in today's times.
Nancy Peifer
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent but challenging read. Read it with an open mind and heart, then ponder. That’s where I am now...pondering. It may shake your tidy Christian world or it may make you angry or it may make you think, or all three as Rah invites us to shake off the comfort of our privileged, Western christianity and join in lament for the injustices so many of our non-white brothers and sisters suffer.
Jen Mayes
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a powerful, challenging book. My second book from this author and I so appreciated his voice and learning from him. We need to learn how to lament more in this day and age and why that is key for real change to began in our world.
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to RuthAnn by: Kristina
Powerful and challenging. This book felt very different from a lot of the rhetoric that's out there now in Christian circles, and I'm really thankful that a friend sent a copy to me out of the blue.


Our aim with this distinctive genre [series of commentary and insight] is to have one finger in the ancient Scriptures, another in the daily newspaper and another touching the heart, all the while pointing to Jesus Christ. (15; Paul Louis Metzger, book series executive editor)

Shalom, therefore, d
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A powerful work challenging the triumphalist narrative of modern American Evangelicalism and a call to recover the lament traditions of the Bible through an exploration of Lamentations both in context and in light of modern American experience.

The author rightly exposes the overwrought emphasis on praise and triumphalism in much of modern Christianity: it's all positive and successful all the time, and that's not life, and that's not even the lived experience of many. Such triumphalism cannot be
Jillian Humphrey
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“A theology of celebration has the luxury of being able to objectify God, and because suffering is kept at a distance it is not necessary for the presence of God to be immanent. God can be a distant abstraction whose praise is expected.

Lament as dialogue challenges the notion of an abstract relationship with God. A theology of suffering must acknowledge the cry of distress and suffering in lament before moving to the psalms of praise. Dialogical lament becomes a form of prayer.”

This book is a ne
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you know how to lament? I’ve never been taken through the book of Lamentations. In my own readings (and my own naivety) I saw it as a simple, yet painful lament over a fallen city and nation. Perhaps, reading about a tragic and horrific event from millennia ago, knowing that it would be restored eventually, disconnected me from the words on the pages. What Prophetic Lament does, rightly, is teach us about the actual Lamenting that took place, the significance of it all, and, most importantly ...more
Justin Lonas
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots to chew on. A faithful, earnest reminder that owning our sin, and the consequences thereof (even, or especially, generational and systemic sin) is the first step toward true repentance and restoration.
Tiffany Shin
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
dang. good, challenging, convicting stuff
Andrew Hall
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to make this simple. This book is brilliant. It changed my life.

Read it. And be changed also.
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I struggled with the repetitive writing, the careful exposition of Lamentations and insights offered about the Western church make this book very worthwhile.
Tim Casteel
This year (2018) I read two books by Dr. Rah- The Next Evangelicalism and Prophetic Lament. Of the 100 books I read this year, Next Evangelicalism was in my top 2. Prophetic Lament was one of the most disappointing. I found Lament to be a stretch. It seemed to be an applying of our current circumstances back into scripture (instead of vice versa). I found it repetitive and lost interest 1/3 of the way through (but pushed through to the end). I think much of this would have been solved if he didn ...more
Jimmy McKee
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, to the extent that a book on suffering, loss, grief and lament can be enjoyable. It was less a commentary on Lamentations, and more a cultural commentary on the American Evangelical church, particularly how the white suburban evangelical church in America does not have space for lament or even the acknowledgement of suffering. This is an important book, and Rah’s is an important voice to listen to when it comes to moving the evangelical church forward in the ways of t ...more
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This isn't one of those spiritual books that you read and say, "Wow. That was great. I feel so empowered to conquer the world now."

No. This book is a study of the book Lamentations, about mourning and living in loss, about yelling loudly about the injustice of it all, about repentance. It is about uncertainty. Will God redeem and restore Jerusalem and the people? Is it even possible? There isn't really anything left.

Soong-Chan Rah adds an application to the evangelical church in America, the c
Tanner Hawk
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A necessary read for the Western church.

"The triumph-and-success orientation of our typical church member needed the corrective brought by stories of struggle and suffering. These stories should not merely provide a sprinkling of flavor for the existing triumphalistic narrative that furthers the privilege of those in the dominant culture. The tendency to view the holistic work of the church as the action of the privilege toward the marginalized often derails the work of true community healing.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still processing this book in my soul and spirit. There are components of it that resonate with me and parts that do not resonate at this time. In giving a voice to social injustice and the black experience in America, there are broad generalizations made about the Western church. There also appears to be a view as to what is an acceptable lament. With that said, the need for lament is clearly articulated and deftly applied to today's environment. The adaptation of Lamentations 5 to reflect ...more
Sooho Lee
In a triumphalistic saturated church culture, where victory-language is all that we consume and spew, the act and discipline of lament are 'swept under the rug.' But this should not be so! Walking through the Book of Lamentations, Dr. Soong-chan Rah revitalizes a desperately needed exercise of deep-seated faith in God. Perhaps, American churches have far too quickly and exclusively clung to the triumphant talk and walk of the Resurrection without mulling over the horrors of the Crucifixion and H ...more
Joel Wentz
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emotional, beautifully-written, and profoundly relevant. As someone who has chafed under the injustice of everything happening in my (American) culture and setting lately, this book wrecked me in exactly the way I needed to be wrecked. Rah simply follows the text of Lamentations, and through it levels a powerful challenge to the overwhelming narrative of the Western church, which I needed to be reminded of. He does not leave the reader without hope, but does not follow the temptation to "gloss o ...more
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best, most challenging and perspective-shifting books I've ever read. It challenges the triumphalism and exceptionalism of the American evangelical church, and proposes a greater focus on lament to address social and racial injustice.

From the introduction: "Those who live in celebration are concerned with questions of proper management and joyous celebration. Instead of deliverance, they seek constancy and sustainability...Praise is the language of celebration...Lament recogni
April Parsons
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wrapped up this book tonight at our book club. I don't even know where to begin or what I need to do to convince you to read this book. But if you say you love God and love people, then you need to read this book.

This book has been edifying, affirming, eye opening, and life giving. It has helped me to put words to something I felt I was missing. It has given me a vision for what I hope for. And Jeremiah gives us an incredible example of how to love wholly, deeply, and fully.

I will definitely be
Michael Joseph
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most timely works of theology I’ve read. Speaks directly to the racism Western Christianity has denied and been co-opted by in crystal clear fashion. Not a prosaic theologian like Bruggemann, but an essential one that I hope only keeps growing and gaining popularity.

Some chisme though - I hear he’s not very nice to people working alongside him. Perhaps his character personally could help promote his internal power. I feel like this is common among us wrecked but it was still heartbrea
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book alongside reading the book of Lamentations. I can't recommend it enough and have told many people to read it. I got to see Dr. Rah speak, talk with him and he is so anointed, humble and wise in person just as he comes off in his writing. His words are powerful and full of truth and he illuminates scripture, allowing me to see Lamentation's passionate call for justice and giving greater fullness to my theological framework. In times like these, this is a must read.
Hannah Bergstrom de Leon
An important and profound perspective on Lamentations and our current social unrest. Extremely convicting for this white leader of a white church naming the truth of my theology, christology and assumptions around justice and peace. A truth I needed to hear so I can begin to transform and lead through the reclaimed practice of lament.
Luke Wagner
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Soong-Chan Rah’s work “Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times” is a work that is steeped in biblical insight and depth, as well as cultural and societal understanding. In the midst of a harsh reality, Rah points to the oft-forgotten or overlooked book of Lamentations. In its 5 chapters, the ancient book of Lamentations offers a lament in the midst of great suffering. Rah views the theology of suffering and lament in Lamentations as being relevant and needed today, as America grap ...more
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Soong-Chan Rah (ThD, Duke Divinity School) is Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of Prophetic Lament, The Next Evangelicalism, and Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, as well as coauthor of Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith and contributing author for Growing He ...more

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“The tendency to view the holistic work of the church as the action of the privileged toward the marginalized often derails the work of true community healing. Ministry in the urban context, acts of justice and racial reconciliation require a deeper engagement with the other—an engagement that acknowledges suffering rather than glossing over it.” 14 likes
“The American church avoids lament. The power of lament is minimized and the underlying narrative of suffering that requires lament is lost. But absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. Absence makes the heart forget. The absence of lament in the liturgy of the American church results in the loss of memory. We forget the necessity of lamenting over suffering and pain. We forget the reality of suffering and pain.” 5 likes
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