The Beautiful Community
The church is at its best when it pursues the biblical value of unity in diversity.
Our world has been torn asunder by racial, ethnic, and ideological differences. It is seen in our politics, felt in our families, and ingrained in our theology. Sadly, the church has often reinforced these ethnic and racial divides. To cast off the ugliness of disunity and heal our fractured humanity, we must cultivate spiritual practices that help us pursue beautiful community.
In The Beautiful Community, pastor and theologian Irwyn Ince boldly unpacks the reasons for our divisions while gently guiding us toward our true hope for wholeness and reconciliation. God reveals himself to us in his trinitarian life as the perfection of beauty, and essential to this beauty is his work as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The gospel imperative to pursue the beautiful community—unity in diversity across lines of difference—is rooted in reflecting the beautiful community of our triune God. This book calls us into and provides tools for that pursuit.
"Irwyn Ince is not merely a gifted thinker and writer on the subject of loving across the lines of difference. He is also, and has been for the duration of his life and ministry, a compelling practitioner of these important kingdom matters about which he writes. Irwyn is also my good friend. I have learned much from him and have been loved well by him. The same is true of the community that I serve, as we have drawn on Irwyn's wisdom in our own effort to honor the call of our Lord, who demolishes dividing walls and brings together Jew and Gentile—and every other race that is part of humanity—under Christ. If you are eager to move forward in the triune God's call to love and build community with those who are not like you, then this is the book for you."
"In John 17 Jesus prayed that the church would be one, just as he and the Father are one. The Beautiful Community is a clarion call to the church to image our triune God in both our unity and diversity—to see and cherish the beauty of a diverse and unified body of Christ. The church needs this book more than ever, and I'm thankful Irwyn Ince has written it."
"Irwyn Ince lays out a blueprint for the church in the twenty-first century. While we are individually made in the image of God, we are also corporately made in God's image as a body. At a time when we are as polarized and divided as ever, when culture is desperately trying to define our identity, there is no greater need than for God's church to model 'beautiful community' and true 'gracism.'"
"Dr. Ince provides all Christians in the American context, and the churches in which they serve, an accessible and clear biblical and theological vision to help them work toward the unification of all things and all people in Christ. The book is grounded in a succinct and accessible biblical, theological, and historical vision for the 'beautiful community' and written with the prose of a concerned pastor who longs to see the people of God reach their redemptive potential in matters related to ethnic unity and racial conciliation. Readers might not agree with everything Dr. Ince says in this book, but they will certainly be challenged to consider carefully the biblical and theological imperative of pursuing what Dr. Ince calls the 'beautiful community.'"
"Irwyn Ince is a ministry-minded, biblically grounded Christian leader with equal passion for the unity and diversity of the body of Christ. In this historically informed, culturally relevant, and theologically astute book, Ince grounds his fresh vision for the beautiful people of God in the holy beauty of the triune God. I recommend this guide for anyone who is open to understanding the deeper reasons why racial reconciliation is essential to living out the gospel."
Foreword by Timothy Keller
Part 1: Seeking and Knowing Our Beautiful Creator
1. The Holy and Beautiful Habitation: Our Relational God
2. The Beauty of the Lord: Our God Is Beautiful Community
3. The Perfection of Beauty: Knowing Ourselves
4. A Crown of Beauty in the Hand of the Lord: Beautiful Community as God's Image
Part 2: Restoring and Cultivating Our Beautiful Community
5. Your Beautiful Crown Has Come Down from Your Head: Ghettoization of Humanity
6. I Will Beautify My Beautiful House: Identity and Formation
7. Put On Your Beautiful Garments: Culture and Community
8. How Beautiful Are the Feet: Gospel Message—Devote to the Doctrine
9. The Beauty of Holiness: Probe the Preferences and Count the Cost
10. Our Holy and Beautiful House: Toast to the Truth