*NEW STAFF RELEASE* Between Magisterium and Marketplace

Rob Saler, research fellow and director of the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs here at CTS, has a new book out!

salerBetween Magisterium and Marketplace:
A Constructive Account of Theology and the Church
by Robert C. Saler

Fortress Press, 2014

From the back of the book:

What is the relationship of the church to theology? How does the church relate to the work of creative theological authorship, particularly when authors propose novel claims? Even more, how do ecclesial models, particularly of ecclesial authority, underwrite or authorize how theology is done? Saler takes up these challenging and provocative questions and argues for a fresh ecclesiology of the church as event, specifically as a diffusively spatialized event.

Establishing this claim through the fascinating historical encounters between thinkers like Thomas More and William Tyndale, John Henry Newman and Friedrich Schleiermacher, Between Magisterium and Marketplace provides a theological genealogy of modern ecclesiology, arguing that modern and contemporary ecclesiology is a theological contest not between Barth and Schleiermacher, but rather Newman and Schleiermacher. Constructing an alternative path, Saler turns to the work of a diverse array of authors past and present to argue for a humble yet hopeful view of the theological task in light of contemporary ecclesial opportunities. (more…)

*NEW FACULTY RELEASE* Uncovering Spiritual Narratives

Suzanne M. Coyle, associate professor of pastoral theology and marriage and family therapy, has a new book on spirituality and narrative:


Uncovering Spiritual Narratives:
Using Story in Pastoral Care and Ministry
by Suzanne M. Coyle

Fortress Press, 2014

From the back of the book:

Using narrative therapy as a caregiving approach can help individuals uncover multilayered narratives that are complex and liberating. In Uncovering Spiritual Narratives, Suzanne Coyle contends that not only are these more complex narratives more helpful in giving our lives meaning, they also critique the cultural discourses in which they arose. Drawing on both theological approaches and real life experiences, Coyle creates a contextual pastoral theology that helps caregivers find the power of God in people’s stories. (more…)

*REVIEW* Capital in the Twenty-First Century


Capital in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas Picketty

Harvard University Press, 2014

It’s not everyday that a dense economics tome tops the bestseller lists, especially one that is roughly 600 pages (not including about 100 pages of notes), but Thomas Picketty’s new Capital in the Twenty-First Century has done exactly that. Unfortunately there seem to be only two ways to review this book, either by providing a very brief explanation of the argument or a very long explanation of its points. I’ll here opt for the former.

If you’re interested in Picketty’s argument alone, thanks to the organization of the book it is set apart from the historical data driven analysis at the center of the book. For those interested simply in the argument, I think it is wholly attainable by reading the Introduction, Part I, Part IV, and the Conclusion. This cuts the reading down from about 600 pages to something like 250.

Picketty’s argument in Capital is rooted in a simple inequality: r > g , where r is the rate of return on capital and g is the rate of the growth of the economy. This means that in currently existing market capitalist economies (and he studies several, including the US), when the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of the growth of the economy wealth disparity will follow (and increase rapidly). Picketty claims that this inequality most often results from slow, stagnant, or slow population growth stagnant (as there are natural factors to rapid population growth, which is infrequent and severely temporary, that help limit the inequality). Picketty is quick, like most economists, to bracket out the post-war years as an exception and diagnose our current increasing inequality as a problem intrinsic to capitalism. (more…)

*REVIEW* Learning to Walk in the Dark


Learning to Walk in the Dark
by Barbara Brown Taylor

HarperOne, 2014

“This is not a how-to book, but if it were, the only instruction would be to become more curious about your own darkness.” (185)

I read Barbara Brown Taylor’s new book as a Holy Saturday experience, for obvious reasons, and it has stuck closely with me even through Easter celebration. Liturgically this has helped me embrace one of her central points, that we need and can learn from the dark at least as much as the light. After all, Holy Saturday has been as accurate a description of my life and faith recently as has Easter Sunday, and Taylor’s new book not only met me there but gave me new language and references for my semi-permanent residency.

Taylor, a proponent of what she calls ‘lunar spirituality,’ has given us a gift in this new book, a modern spiritual classic belonging next to Teresa, Hildegard, and St. John. Urgently contemporary – experiential and memior-ish instead of the more classical rumination on ascetic experience – Taylor invites us to join her as she turns into the dark, into that realm of things which she (along with the rest of us) has grown and been trained and socialized to avoid. (more…)

*NEW FACULTY RELEASE* Acts of the Apostles (Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries)

Ron Allen, Professor of Preaching and Gospels and Letters, has written a new commentary on Acts:


Acts of the Apostles
(Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries)
by Ronald J. Allen

Fortress Press, 2013

From the back of the book:

How can preachers make the book of Acts come alive not only during Eastertide – when passages from Acts are included in the lectionary – but throughout the church year? Ron Allen’s Acts of the Apostles helps the preacher indentify possibilities for preaching based on texts and themes in the book of Acts, offering a basic exegetical framework for interpreting passages in Acts in their historical, literary, rhetorical, and theological contexts. Throughout his commentary, Allen examines the relationship of Acts to the Gospel of Luke, discussing parallel passages between the two volumes and observing how themes in the Gospel carry forward into Acts. Acts of the Apostles will help to renew understanding of this too often understudied book for the life of the church. (more…)

*NEW FACULTY RELEASE* Re-Storying Your Faith

Suzanne M. Coyle, Associate Professor of Theology and Marriage and Family, has recently written and released the following book:

Re-Storying Your Faith
by Suzanne M. Coyle

Circle Books, 2013

From the back of the book:

Re-Storying Your Faith has caught our culture’s imagination from nouveau experiences of spirituality through channeling and meditation to traditional spiritual practices of personal devotions, scripture reading, and prayer. Building on Christian spirituality, the spiritual practice of re-storying our faith offers people an everyday experience of discovering multiple faith stories to give meaning to their spiritual journey. Built into this process is a way of discovering individual uniqueness as well as sharing discovered stories in faith communities, whether it is a Sunday school class or a group of like-minded friends.

“…extends to us the invitation to experience and re-experience God’s intimate involvement in the everyday events of our lives over time.” Chris Dolman, Teaching Faculty, Dulwich Centre, Adelaide, South Australia

Fantastic Resource for Theological Ponderings: Homebrewed Christianity

I realized recently that I haven’t posted here a fantastic resource for theologizing: Homebrewed Christianity.


Homebrewed Christianity is a blog and collection of podcasts run by two guys getting their PhDs at Claremont – Tripp Fuller working on his degree in Theology and the Philosophy of Religion and Bo Sanders studying Practical Theology. These guys, and several other regular contributors, regularly engage in discussions about topics relevant to theology, the church, and the practice of faith. They have several podcasts and I encourage you to check them out! (My favorite podcasts are the Homebrewed Christianity main podcast, where they interview authors and thinkers, and the TNT ['Theology Nerd Throwdown'] where they discuss topics/issues).

You can find their podcasts on the website linked above or in iTunes.

New OXFAM Report on Global Inequality

OXFAM International released a new study (here’s the summary) last week that reveals, perhaps more clearly and troublingly than other reports, just how wide the global inequality gap has become. On page 2 of the report it explains that “The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same [amount of wealth] as the richest 85 people in the world.

The richest 85 people in the world own as much wealth as the poorest 3,500,000,000 (3.5 billion). The numbers are staggering and the theological implications are immense…