Review: James K. A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom

“When we worship on Sunday, it spills over into our cultural labor on Monday” (3).

Imaging the Kingdom is volume two of James K. A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies series. I previously reviewed volume one Desiring the Kingdom. At the core, Smith argues, “[W]e are, primarily and at root, affective animals whose worlds are made more by the imagination than by the intellect—that humans are those desiring creatures who live off stories, narratives, images, and the stuff of poises” (xii). Smith’s stated goal is “the renewal of practice” (xvii). If the end of worship is action (going into the world) then we must “recruit our imagination” (6). Our imagination is what will grab our hearts as we go out into the world on the missio Dei. Love and our affections are at the center of his proposal (7).

Imaging the Kingdom splits into two neat parts. Part one reviews French theorists Mzerleau-Ponty and Bourdieu laying the foundation for his liturgical anthropology. Part two offers a more “tangible discussion” that the “theoretical toolbox” from part one furnishes (xvii).

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Review: J.A. Medders’ Gospel-Formed

“Above all, worship Jesus. Make much of Jesus. It’s about him” (13). Jeff starts Gospel-Formed with this admonition. I take it as his target for the book, and so it’s only fair to measure the success of what Jeff does by it. I’ll cut to the chase and argue that he achieved his goal. He starts off reminding his readers it’s all about Jesus and to take in the Scriptures through out the book which are the real focus because they tell us about Jesus. And I think he hits his mark. Jeff gives us a gospel punch that will capture our attention and drive our gaze to the risen Savior.

Gospel-Formed is designed for daily reading. Jeff recommends reading one chapter per day for one gospel-packed punch. The chapters work well with this format. They each do stand alone, but there’s also steam that builds as he progresses through each chapter and each section (Worship, Identity, Community, and Mission).

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Review: G. K. Beale and Benjamin L. Gladd’s Hidden But Now Revealed

The past few months have seen the release of several books co-authored by G. K. Beale, who needs no introduction:

I want to read everything Beale writes, but out of these three I was most excited about Hidden But Now Revealed because of the presence of biblical theology in the title.

Co-written with Dr. Benjamin Gladd, who wrote his doctoral dissertation under Beale at Wheaton on the use of mystery in Daniel and Second Temple Judaism, Hidden But Now Revealed explores the biblical conception of mystery, a term found in conjunction with key doctrines such as eschatology, soteriology, relationship between Jew and Gentile, etc. in the New Testament. The authors’ goal for this book is that “the church would gain a greater appreciation for the concept of mystery and the intersection of the Old and New Testament. The gospel itself contains both ‘old’ and ‘new’ elements that stand in continuity and discontinuity with the Old Testament” (8). In this study, mystery is defined generally as “the revelation of God’s partially hidden wisdom, particularly as it concerns events occurring in the ‘latter days'” (20).

It begins with a look at the use of mystery in the book of Daniel, where “Revelation of a mystery can be defined roughly as God fully disclosing wisdom about end-time events that were mostly hitherto unknown” (43). The second chapter continues providing background into the New Testament’s use of mystery by analyzing the use of mystery in early Judaism, looking at a few key texts in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Targums. Like in the book of Daniel, mystery in Second Temple Judaism is eschatological and characterized by an initial hidden revelation followed by a fuller interpretation.

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