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Stranger God: Meeting Jesus in Disguise

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  25 reviews
When Richard Beck first led a Bible study at a maximum security prison, he went to meet God. His own faith was flagging, but Beck still believed the promise of Matthew 25, that when we visit the prisoner, we visit Jesus. And sure enough, God met him in prison.
Paperback, 254 pages
Published November 1st 2017 by Fortress Press
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David Eiffert
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've followed Richard Beck's blog (Experimental Theology, look it up) for years now, this is the first book I've read by him. Accessible, challenging, funny. SO GOOD!!!
Cindy Minor
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good read on hospitality and where it begins. I appreciate the author giving very practical examples of how to put his ideas into practice. I can also agree that hospitality, when practiced the way God intends, is very intentional and probably uncomfortable. I'm not sure that I agree with "putting love on the bench" but I do think I understand where he was going with this idea. This book is getting four stars as it was way too wordy at the end. Could have ended several pages earlier.
Luke Magnuson
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 4-faith
Some of my favorite writings of Richard Beck are his meditations on the Little Way of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, which is "simply the intentional practice of kindness."

And I love the ways he describes hospitality: "Hospitality begins by widening the circle of our affections, the circumference of our care, the arena of our compassion, and the territory of our kindness."
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love love love this book. I've read it 3 times since I started it. Some many great things. I'd never heard of the "Little Way." What a concept! Love can change everything, especially the way you see others.
Robin Curry
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Life-changing book (I hope)
It’s a humble little book, but rich with insight. Highly recommended.
Robert D. Cornwall
An ancient belief suggested that in entertaining strangers one might entertain angels (gods) unawares. Abraham entertained three strangers, who are identified as "the Lord." These same three strangers visit Sodom, and are welcomed by Abraham's nephew, but not be the community at large, leading to their destruction. Jesus spoke of judging between sheep and goats (Matthew 25)The basis of judgment was serving Jesus, but in the form of the naked, the imprisoned, the hungry (that is, the stranger).

Julie Pahutski
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for an Adult Sunday School class at my church. It's an inspiring book focused on how we as individuals can be more hospitable to others who aren't like us. My pastor picked this book in an effort to help well-meaning Christians make a difference in our highly polarized world through simple steps to welcome the "stranger." While I thought it was a little repetitive, the message is a good one. I have already taken some of the steps and have found my life enriched by being ...more
Kyle Johnson
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books-read
Richard Beck (of ACU!) offers a truly excellent and accessible book on hospitality and spiritual formation through his typical blend of psychological and theological expertise. My congregation's leadership team read this book leading up to an annual spiritual retreat and then discussed its insights throughout the weekend. Whether encountering its insights individually or communally (retreat, small group, etc.), I think you'd be blessed.

"While other spiritual disciplines move us toward God, they
Joy Matteson
What's the first thing you do when you arrive at a party? As Dr. Beck elaborates here, you look for your friends, of course. You don't beeline towards the first stranger who looks down at their feet, you look for your social circle. This is the reason we don't understand Jesus' kind of hospitality. He specifically looks for those people at the party, and spends the rest of His time with them.
Kindness is kind of a buzzword for 2017 or even the concept of "radical" hospitality--but how does one
Daniel Rogers
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
See the need for kindness and relationships around us without ignoring material need

Richard Beck tells us we should take seriously the Gospel saying that we see God in the face of the homeless, sick, disabled. This book is as good as I could ask for for a book about helping the other from a liberal, individualistic perspective. I would want more attention paid to the systems and structures that produce poverty. There aren't enough real life social networks recommended by the book to counteract a
Dave McNeely
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Richard Beck is one of my favorite (Christian, non-fiction) authors and this book is somewhat of a sequel to Unclean, which is one of the most profound books I've ever read (go and read it now). Whereas Unclean explores in more depth and detail the psychological, sociological and theological underpinnings of morality, purity, and boundaries, Stranger God presses into more practical considerations of how to overcome these obstacles to "the will to embrace." Beck spends the first half of the book ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books where the author is living his topic, therefore has "skin in the game." It reads from the front lines, down in the dirt, personal.

The perspective Beck offers is practical and heartfelt about hospitality. It is also convicting - to me.

Here are some highlights from the book, and Matthew 25:31-46

We fail at hospitality because hospitality doesn’t begin with a program, with a new “welcoming” or “neighboring” initiative. Hospitality has
Though I'm still working through how to practice the Little Way in a way that is not approaching others in an non-instrumental way this was a really, really powerful call to widen the circle of my affections and to see Jesus/God where god really is, radically incarnated in the world in the faces and bodies of the least of these. But not just the least of these, but in the faces and bodies of those that I have disgust responses to (read this book for a more streamlined presentation of disgust ...more
Jan Davis
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book will be read for a summer book discussion at my church. It is inspiring but not saccharine. On the surface, it may seem like it is just encouraging people to be kind to one another, but it is much deeper than that. The challenge is to open ourselves to our neighbors, whoever they may be. I especially like his premise that small changes can make big differences. As we are easily overwhelmed by the onslaught of media, this book is helpful to return us to some basics that can move the ...more
Beth Halda
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was once an undergraduate student of Dr. Beck's and let me say that I promise he's just as genuine in person as he is in this book.

I greatly appreciate his love for the marginalized and he so eloquently sums up ways to help others in this book by not only teaching how we can love like Jesus, but also citing research to back up his points.

This book reminded me how honored I am to know him and how I can help others by doing.
Andrew Choy
It's a wonderful, interesting and easy-to-follow read. It's also my very first book ever read about hospitality. The "Little Way" originally from Therese of Lisieux is very practical with a potential to change the world - thanks to Beck's unpacking and illustrating with great examples. I got hooked now.
Paul Fike
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love the way Beck blends theology and psychology to produce this very thought provoking and applicable guide for Christ-like hospitality. The implications are simple, yet challenging. As with all Beck’s books I have read, highly recommended reading for the serious disciple of Jesus.
Gerald McFarland
Feb 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Weak, mainly because it repeated the same message over and over--to be kind to strangers, especially those who are different from you. I like the idea, but Beck takes what could have been (should have been) a short essay and stretches it into 244 pages.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: church, economics
This story deals with the simple fact of meeting Jesus in the strangers that inhabit our lives. There is quite a bit of good content here. My church is using this book as a class series for the next few weeks.
Daryl Miller
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book!

Great book! Very practical and challenging. I plan to re-read and use the book in a study group to thoroughly digest it.
Linda Gaines
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book Study for Bethany Presbyterian church. Good discussions on being welcoming to all.
Austin Hood
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
In a world that is increasingly divided, bridging the gap can only be accomplished through the small acts of loving others well, and doing everything in our lives with great love.
Wanda Meade
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting read. I found this perspective fresh and challenging.
Mark Johnson
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Nov 15, 2017
William Cheung
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Dr. Richard Beck is a Professor of Psychology at Abilene Christian University, and he is the author of the popular blog Experimental Theology: The Thoughts, Articles and Essays of Richard Beck and the books The Slavery of Death, Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality and The Authenticity of Faith: The Varieties and Illusions of Religious Experience. As an experimental ...more
“The walls we have to tear down to make room for each other are rarely physical. The walls that separate us are mostly psychological. Feelings are what exclude people from our friendship and dinner table: ignoring versus noticing, suspicion versus trust, exclusion versus embrace.” 1 likes
“Hospitality isn’t just about welcoming sinners; it’s also about welcoming people we think are idiots.” 1 likes
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