*NEW FACULTY RELEASE* Under the Oak Tree: The Church as Community of Conversation in a Conflicted and Pluralistic World

Ron Allen, Professor of Preaching and Gospels and Letters, edited and contributed to an important new book! Among the contributions, which include essays from the likes of Marjorie Suchocki and others, is an essay called “God as Conversational” by our very own Michael Miller, Associate Professor of Systematic and Philosophical Theology. This is a critical book for those interested in practical theology and the future of the church.

allen1Under the Oak Tree:
The Church as Community of Conversation in a Conflicted and Pluralistic World
eds. Ronald J. Allen, John S. McClure, and O. Wesley Allen Jr.

Cascade Books, 2014

From the back of the book:

Two trends in the early twenty-first century intersect to give this volume immediate relevance: (1) The emerging postmodern ethos in North America is calling into question many things we have taken for granted, including the purposes of the church. (2) Our time is increasingly fractious as groups with distinct worldviews become polarized and often antagonistic.

Eleven noted contributors join a growing current that sees conversation as an image to refresh our thinking about the nature and purpose of the church, and as a process in which individuals and communities with different perspectives come together for real understanding.

Under the Oak Tree employs the image of Sarah and Abraham greeting three visitors under the Oaks of Mamre as an image for the church as a community of conversation, a community that opens itself to the otherness of the Bible, voices in history and tradition, others in the contemporary social and ecological worlds. Furthermore, the book shows how conversation can lead the church to action.

The book takes a practical approach by exploring how conversation can shape key parts of the church’s life. Topics include preaching, worship, formation, evangelism, pastoral care, mission and ecumenism, social witness, and the relationship of Christianity to other religions. Foundational chapters consider God as conversational, the church as community of conversation, and the minister as conversation leader.

“Far from being an abstract treatise, this book provides a frame for thinking anew about preaching, worship, evangelism, and almost every aspect of congregational life, including the role of the minister. Every chapter includes practical implications that flesh out ways conversation shapes ministry on the ground. This book will give new energy to congregations and ministers alike, even when it sounds scary.” Barbara K. Lundblad, Professor of Preaching, Union Theological Seminary

“These authors envision the quality of conversation that happens when Christians’ radical openness to otherness is predicated on our willingness to be changed, even radically, by the encounter. The book’s classroom value will be highest for students unfamiliar with practical theology. Similarly structured, the chapters analytically and persuasively develop conversation as a crucial metaphor for practical theology and its subdisciplines.” Kathleen J. Greider, Professor of Practical Theology, Spiritual Care and Counseling, Cleremont School of Theology

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