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For the Life of the World: Theology That Makes a Difference

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  135 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Christianity Today 2020 Book Award (Award of Merit, Theology/Ethics)
Outreach 2020 Recommended Resource of the Year (Theology and Biblical Studies)

The question of what makes life worth living is more vital now than ever. In today's pluralistic, postsecular world, universal values are dismissed as mere matters of private opinion, and the question of what constitu
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published January 22nd 2019 by Brazos Press
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Samantha Ham
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the third book I’ve read of Miroslav Volf, I’ve got two unread on my shelf, and looking forward to more. I’m not an academic, theologian, scholar, or even a pastor, but I love theology. If you’re a nerdy Christian like me, you might like this, too. For me the gold in this book is in the last 21 pages.
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If I had known this was a book deliberately written for professional theologians, I probably would have passed it by. But I'm glad I didn't. This is a book I will cherish and probably re-read. It's all good, but chapter 6, the last chapter, is really exceptional. There the authors lay out their vision for the flourishing life in this fallen world (a vision to which the previous 5 chapters had been leading all along). Much of this vision is based on their reading of the letters of Paul, and espec ...more
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Summary: Contends that for theology to make a difference it must address what it means for human beings to flourish in the world "in light of God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ."

Miroslav Volf grew up in Tito's Yugoslavia. Matthew Croasmun cut his teeth in ministry in planting a church. For both, a lived theology was vital, and remains so in their current work with the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. Their contention in this book is that "the purpose of theology is to discern, articulate, a
Krish Kandiah
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
A challenging and exciting vision for theology.
Robert D. Cornwall
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To many theology is a rather irrelevant and esoteric exercise with no real world application. As one who is trained as a theologian (historical theology), I would beg to differ. Despite my protests, I expect most would continue with prior assumptions. Miroslav Volf and Matthew Croasmun have written a powerful response to those who suggest that theology has little to offer the modern world. In doing so, they recognize that the study of theology is a moment of deep crisis. Seminaries are in declin ...more
Richard Propes
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
There's no question I consider myself a fan, if you can actually be a fan of theologians, of "For the Life of the World" co-author Miroslav Volf, whose "Exclusion & Embrace" remains one of my top ten theological books of all-time and whose works have largely inspired my life and my ministry.

"For the Life of the World: Theology That Makes a Difference" is squarely targeted as a manifesto for all theologians and, indeed, I'd imagine its appeal to be primarily limited to theologians, advanced acad
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An academic work for theologians in academia to consider their craft and its relationship to the world.

The work is a collaboration between two theologians, one of whom is very prominent in the discipline. They explore how one can evaluate the value of a person who goes through the experience of getting a Ph.D in theology and then works in the field, and displays why it does not make good financial sense according to the metrics of the modern economy or valuation of knowledge resources. The autho
Scott Bielinski
Jul 18, 2021 rated it liked it
I read this a couple of years ago when it was published. I was very excited to read it. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a let down, though I had trouble articulating why I felt that way.

Two years later, I re-read it to feel, similarly, ambivalent. I agree with much of Volf and Croasmun's diagnosis of theology's problems today. And I agree with their central thesis: "Theology is in crisis because it has lost its nerve and forgotten it's purpose to help discern, articulate, and commend compelling
Jared Abbott
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book that accomplishes what it set out to do--which is to take a step toward a "theology of flourishing life."

The authors argue that the fundamental human question is, "What is the true, good, or flourishing life?" They point out that present-day Christian theologians have neglected this question, and this has contributed to a crisis in theology. As it stands today, theology and theologians are irrelevant to most Christians (both clergy and laity). If academic theologians b
Adam Shields
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not going to write up a full post on this. I listened to it on audio and the last time I wrote up a book of Volf's that I listened to on audio he complained about it not only directly but on twitter as well latter.

I have read four of his book and I continue to find him very helpful.

Part of the irony for me here is that the book talks about the need to make theology more accessible and useful out of the academy and then spends what I think was way too much time exploring that (which is lik
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Bought and had this book signed by Miroslav Volf himself when he came to Singapore to give talks on public theology. Listening to his seminars turned into wanting to read his book, for which I am grateful for its dense content that enriches me in unprecedented ways, especially in my identity as a follower of Christ and “accidental theologian”.

A warning is given in the beginning, “Every sentence, even every clause, could have been a page, with equally long footnotes.” It sure takes time to read F
Jun 12, 2021 added it
This book has an important and valid point about how important it is to actually apply theology to one's life, and the goals of doing so must be the ones it gives. It is pretty academic, but also fascinating, so reading it as we did as a book club for people who are very well educated in theology and speak academics is the best way. I did enjoy most of it, but the end part was simply too esoteric for me. I think it's because I struggle to apply concepts to real life, whereas the others in my gro ...more
Roman  Purshaga
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Miroslav Volf's work is a must-read for anyone who's engaged in any sort of theological analysis and reflection. Although the language of the book is predominately academic and targeted towards theologians, I would still encourage those with no formal theological education to study its content, at least the last chapter, where the flourishing way of life is described. Personally, one of the highlights of the book is Volf's exploration of proleptic and ecstatic aspects of a theologian's life: we ...more
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I think Volf has a reasonable claim to be one of our foremost public theologians in the United States - and I wish his "public" was larger. He has the temperament and approach to appeal to a wide audience, but in an often polarized theological landscape louder voices tend to gain more attention.

This book argues that theology must provide a vision of flourishing life in the light of Christ. So, rather than just policing of doctrinal debates, or the parroting of intellectual trends in theological
Neil White
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a manifesto designed to suggest a direction for reorienting theological work around visions of a flourishing life in light of God's self revelation in Jesus Christ. It does a good job of suggesting an interesting question and making a case for why the topic is a critical and often neglected one in academic theological reflection. It's work in answering its own manifesto is very preliminary and suggestive and points to work that both Volf and Croasmun have done in other places but I ...more
Erin Henry
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, christian
They spend most of the book explaining why theology should be about a what makes a flourishing life. Then the last chapter on what is a flourishing life. Wish the last part was expounded upon more and the first part consolidated more. Still they make a very valid critique and correction to modern day theology making it much more applicable to every Christian.
Laura Kisthardt
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, own-read
Read for Systematic Theology taught by Prof. Volf, Spring 2020 at Yale Divinity School. I enjoyed this introduction to Volf's theology of a flourishing life. My only concern is whether it places Christianity as the only path toward flourishing life. I didn't feel like that was regularly enough addressed. ...more
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
A concise presentation of what theology should be today.
Rather than another academic discipline contributing incremental increases to knowledge about a specific area, it should offer a grand sweeping vision of what flourishing life should be in light of what God has revealed.
Moreover, theologians do not only dispense knowledge, but are called to live out and embody the truths they propose.
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Do theology with the goal of providing a vision for a flourishing life, for God does not need theology, people do. This was a fascinating read and I found it difficult to put down. Well worth the time for anyone tinkering in the world of theology.
Andres Grijalba
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read

The introduction was one of the best parts or the book! They very accurately assess the situation in contemporary theology and argue a way forward that will hopefully reform how theology has been done in recent year with a central vision of flourishing life.
Timothy Koller
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I will be referencing this book regularly and returning to it often, as well. This should be required reading for anyone teaching in theological education, and I'm thankful the provost of my school required faculty to read it. This will inform aspects of my teaching for years and years to come. ...more
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First part was really strong, but the second part was...really lacking? I'm not sure exactly how to describe it - it just didn't grab or persuade me. ...more
Kristin Gable
Oct 12, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5. Interesting but more academic book of which I’m not qualified to rate
Spencer R
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
You can read my fuller review at Spoiled Milks (9/16/19).

What matters most in life? People and theologians from all stripes try to answer this question, but Miroslav Volf and Matthew Croasmun think that what really matters is “the true life in the presence of God,” and that western academic theology has lost its way (1). They writes, “Theologians seem to have lost theological eros, our sense of divine calling to grapple with the ultimate question of human existence and of the world’s destiny” (
Rinie Altena
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Een trendsetter... Hoop ik.
Nathan Mladin
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Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and the founding director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. “One of the most celebrated theologians of our time,” (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury), Volf is a leading expert on religion and conflict. His recent books include Against the Tide: Love in a Time of Petty Dreams and Persisting Enmities, and ...more

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“it is hard for theology to persist when it has forgotten its purpose: to critically discern, articulate, and commend visions of the true life in light of the person, life, and teachings of Jesus Christ.” 1 likes
“We also give up on the quest for truth when we marshal all forces—in exegesis and history as well as in philosophical, moral, and practical theology—to “discover” and corroborate predetermined dogmatic stances.” 1 likes
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