In our last article about Christian Unity, we looked at a leader of the Emergent/Emerging Church who Time Magazine named “one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America.” His name is Brian McLaren.
We also saw definitions of “emergent Christianity, the emergent church, the emergents, and Emergent” by another leader in the movement – Tony Jones.
Tony Jones is a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. He is also the theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis. As we saw earlier in this series, the E/EC movement had its beginnings at his family’s cabin in the north woods of Minnesota at the turn of the 21st century.
Keeping in mind that the E/EC began with Tony Jones as one of the founding leaders, here is a look at the books he wrote beginning in 2001, along with brief descriptions for each book –
2001 – Postmodern Youth Ministry
“The rules have changed. Everything you believe is suspect. The world is up for grabs. Welcome to the emerging postmodern culture. A “free zone” of rapid change that places high value on community, authenticity, and even God–but has little interest in modern, Western-tinged Christianity. Postmodern Youth Ministry addresses these enormous philosophical shifts and shows how they’re affecting teenagers.”
2003 – Stories of Emergence: Moving from Absolute to Authentic (Emergent YS)
“Imagine coming to a crossroads where you’re no longer sure who you are, why you do what you do, why you believe the way you do. You’re not even sure you care. Where do you go? Follow the stories of people who were steeped in their beliefs–a former fundamentalist, a former Pentecostal, a former liberal, a former feminist, a former communist, and several other ‘formers’–and walk with them on their journeys out of those beliefs. See what twists and turns arise before them, and find out what they learned (about faith, themselves, their beliefs, the world) as they emerged on the other side. This diverse group of Christian leaders discloses and shares in vulnerable, uncommon ways, allowing you full access into their doubts, fears, convictions, and unanswered questions. Each takes you on a path from absolute to authentic: from a place of false conviction and thin resolution, through struggles and growing pains, to a new place that’s much more about process than about having ‘arrived.’ When it comes to journeys of faith, we often don’t know what lies at the end of the road. It’s difficult to take the first step when we are so unsure of the destination. As you read these stories, you’ll find there is room to challenge your fears as well as your faith.”
2003 – Soul Shaper
“If you’re unprepared for a book that makes faith come alive in practice, that makes past come alive in the present–and offers these gifts only if you’re willing to spend significant time learning about the church’s powerful, active spiritual heritage (and your place in it), then put this book down now. Still with us? Good! Because we really don’t want you to miss this book. Soul Shaper is hands-down the most comprehensive primer on the study and use of spiritual and contemplative practices for the benefit of your teenagers–and especially your own soul. Inside, author Tony Jones gives wings to his critically acclaimed debut, Postmodern Youth Ministry, by lucidly explaining how you can put postmodern ideas to work by learning powerful disciplines such as– Sacred Reading The Jesus Prayer The Ignatian Examen The Daily Office Stations of the Cross Sabbath Silence and Solitude Centering Prayer Spiritual Direction The Labyrinth Pilgrimage Service …and eventually implement them into the life of your youth ministry! But Jones cautions us all: ‘These are not gimmicks. This isn’t an Ideas book or a discussion starter book or a great-games-for-over-50-kids-in-a-gym book. This is a strange book. Although it’s about spiritual exercises and their application in the practice of youth ministry, please practice them before you implement them! You won’t come close to learning everything you need to know after reading this book. In fact, you may be a few years from utilizing any of these practices in your youth ministry. But if you find one or two that you incorporate into your rule of life, I’m quite sure that you–and the students God has put into your care–will be eternally changed as a result.’ Complete with unparalleled instruction, deep and rich resources, and a look into Jones’ research, travels, and personal journals as he bathed in the serene light of contemplative Christian spirituality, Soul Shaper is your next best step on the postmodern path.”
2003 – Read. Think. Pray. Live. (TH1NK)
“If you want to know Jesus and what He’s all about, you’ve got to know how to do these four things––read, think, pray, live. It’s how your faith can grow. Lectio divina, or sacred reading, is a time-tested method used by believers to experience God in a personal and real way.
Tailored for students, this book teaches you how to engage your faith. Learning from a teaching that has worked for hundreds of years, you’ll find yourself challenged and encouraged to get to know God in brand new ways.”
2003 – Pray
“The prayers of prophets, apostles, the early and modern church, and even Jesus himself can help young people pray more effectively. Author Tony Jones highlights the important features of these powerful prayers so students can really enjoy talking to God.”
2005 – The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (Emergent YS)
“Broaden your spiritual horizons. How has spirituality changed in the last 500, 1,000, or even 2,000 years? How can ancient approaches to faith help my relationship with God today? In The Sacred Way, popular author and speaker Tony Jones mines the rich history of 16 spiritual disciplines that have flourished throughout the ages and offers practical tips for implementing them in your daily life. Find encouragement and challenge through time-tested disciplines such as: •Silence and solitude •The Jesus prayer •Meditation •Pilgrimage Explore these proven approaches to deepening your faith. As you do, your way of living your spiritual life will never be the same.”
2006 – Diving Intervention: Encountering God Through the Ancient Practice of Lectio Divina
“For 1500 years, Christians have used “sacred reading” or in Latin―Lectio Divina―as a way to tap into the power and vitality of God’s Word. For ancient Christians such as St. Augustine, St. Francis, and others it was a pillar of one’s daily relationship with God. Sound interesting? Learn how it works. Author and youth pastor Tony Jones explains the four steps of Lectio Divina: lectio (reading), meditatio (meditation), oratio (prayer), and contemplatio (contemplation). You’ll be amazed at the profound impact this practice will have on your spiritual life. Includes 12 lectio divina exercises in the back with passages from The Message Remix.”
2008 – A Emergent Manifesto of Hope (emersion: Emergent Village resources for communities of faith)
“Engage the latest thinking of the emerging church. Since the emerging church started grabbing headlines early this millennium, it has been labeled many different things. A movement. A conversation. A friendship. Some even call it a scandal.
An Emergent Manifesto of Hope is a coming together of divergent voices into a collection of writings that will bring you into the latest thinking of the emerging church. You will have a front-row seat as both established leaders and up-and-comers in this influential international movement grapple with how to be faithful Christians in today’s ever-changing cultural context. More than twenty-five contributors present honest, compelling, and at times highly personal reflections on topics like spiritual formation, social justice, sex, church and community, evangelism, racial reconciliation, postcolonialism, and the Bible.
As you engage these reflections, you will come away with a deeper understanding of the hopeful imagination that drives the emerging church. And you will appreciate the beauty of a conversation that is continually being formed and, by its unique nature, defies one univocal message.”
2008 – Ask, Seek, Knock: Prayers to Change Your Life
“What do Abraham, Moses, Deborah, and David have in common? They all prayed and saw amazing results. Walk through the earliest models of prayer and discover how our Israelite forefathers prayed. Includes a prayer guide.”
2009 – The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community
“The Didache is the most important book you’ve never read,” begins Tony Jones, in this engaging study.
The Didache is an early handbook of an anonymous Christian community, likely written before some of the New Testament books were written. It spells out a way of life for Jesus-followers that includes instruction on how to treat one another, how to practice the Eucharist, and how to take in wandering prophets. In The Teaching of the Twelve, Jones unpacks the ancient document, and he traces the life of a small house church in Missouri that is trying to live according to its precepts.
Readers will find The Teaching of the Twelve inspirational and challenging, and they will discover a unique window into the life of the very earliest followers of Jesus the Christ. A new, contemporary English translation of the Didache is included.”
2009 – The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier
“What the ‘Emergent Church Movement’ is all about-and why it matters to the future of Christianity
Following on the questions raised by Brian McLaren in A New Kind of Christian, Tony Jones has written an engaging exploration of what this new kind of Christianity looks like. Writing “dispatches” about the thinking and practices of adventurous Emergent Christians across the country, he offers an in-depth view of this new “third way” of faith-its origins, its theology, and its views of truth, scripture and interpretation, and the Emergent movement’s hopeful and life-giving sense of community. With the depth of theological expertise and broad perspective he has gained as a pastor, writer, and leader of the movement, Jones initiates readers into the Emergent conversation and offers a new way forward for Christians in a post-Christian world. With journalistic narrative as well as authoritative reflection, he draws upon on-site research to provide fascinating examples and firsthand stories of who is doing what, where, and why it matters.”
2011 – The Church Is Flat: The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church Movement
“The Church Is Flat is the first significant, researched study into the ecclesiology of the emerging church movement. Research into eight congregations is put into conversation with the theology of Jürgen Moltmann, concluding with pragmatic proposals for the practice of a truly relational ecclesiology. Tony Jones visited eight emerging church congregations (Cedar Ridge Community Church, Pathways Church, Vintage Faith Church, Journey Church, Solomon’s Porch, House of Mercy, Church of the Apostles, and Jacob’s Well), facilitating interviews, focus groups, and surveys.
After interpreting the data, Jones pulls out the most significant practices of these congregations and judges them relative to the relational ecclesiology of Jürgen Moltmann. Finally, Jones proposes a way forward for the emerging church movement, and the Protestant church writ large.
2012 – A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin
“In A Better Atonement, theologian Tony Jones debunks the traditional doctrine of Original Sin and shows how that doctrine has polluted our view of the atonement. In an intriguing interlude, Jones distances himself from other progressive theologians and biblical scholars by strongly defending the historical crucifixion and physical resurrection of Jesus. Jones then summarizes various understandings of the atonement, from the ancient church to today, ultimately proposing a view that both takes into account a realistic view of sin and maintains an robust belief in the Trinity.
2013 – Questions That Haunt Christianity: Volume 1
“Why would a perfect God create an imperfect universe?
Why didn’t Jesus rescue himself from the cross?
Will I retain my memories in Heaven? Theologian Tony Jones tackles these and other questions — real questions from real people — in the first volume of his series, Questions That Haunt Christianity. Jones delivers thoughtful, commonsense answers and provokes serious conversation about issues from the most abstract to the commonplace.”
2015 – Did God Kill Jesus?: Searching for Love in History’s Most Famous Execution
“The popular Patheos blogger wants to restore the cross as primarily a symbol of God’s overwhelming love for us and to rescue Christians from the shame and guilt from seeing our situation as “sinners in the hands of an angry God,” which was an invention of the medieval church and became enshrined as orthodox Christianity.
Many Christians believe that God the Father demanded his only Son die a cruel, gruesome death to appease His wrath, since humanity is so irredeemably sinful and therefore repugnant to God. Tony Jones, popular progressive Christian blogger, author, and scholar, argues that this understanding is actually a medieval invention and not what the Bible really teaches. He looks beyond medieval convictions and liberates how we see Jesus’s death on the cross from this restrictive paradigm. Christians today must transcend the shame and guilt that have shaped conceptions of the human soul and made us fearful of God, and replace them with love, grace, and joyfulness, which better expresses what the cross is really about.
How we understand the cross reflects directly what kind of God we worship. By letting go of the wrathful God who cannot stand to be in our presence unless he pretends to see Jesus in our place, we discover the biblical God who reaches out to love and embrace us while “we were yet sinners.” Jones offers a positive, loving, inclusive interpretation of the faith that is both challenging and inspiring. Did God Kill Jesus? is essential reading for modern Christians.”
[Emerging Unity will continue …]
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