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Theological Studies > Topics & Issues
What Is Jesus Doing?
Jesus is present here and now, Christians have always affirmed. But how are we to understand his present activity in a challenging, post-Christian context? In what ways is he at work in our congregational worship, pastoral care, preaching—and even our board meetings?
At a time when many feel uncertain about the future of the church, What Is Jesus Doing? brings together leading thinkers in pastoral theology, homiletics, liturgical theology, and missiology in a compelling resource for pastors and theologians. Emphasizing the reality of Jesus both as the resurrected, ascended Christ and as present and active today, the contributors consider how to recognize the divine presence and join in what God is already doing in all areas of church ministry.
With deep theological reflection, personal stories, and practical suggestions, this interdisciplinary conversation invites leaders to remember that the church is first of all God's project, not ours—and that this truth should fill us with hope.
"Evelyn Underhill famously insisted, 'God is the interesting thing about religion.' If theology is the discerning of what God is doing in the world and the subsequent earnest yearning to participate in that action, then this elegant and absorbing collection of essays is an admirable response to that challenge. If pastoral care means taking people a little more seriously than they take themselves, then this volume is an exemplary form of pastoral care for the church today."
"Many of us make the mistake of speaking of Jesus in the past tense and subjunctive mood: 'What would Jesus do if he were here now?' This book answers another set of questions altogether: we must speak of Jesus Christ in the present tense as the living Lord, reigning, working for our transformation through the church. Andrew Purves has taught us all to speak, with Saint Paul, of the crucifixion and resurrection of our ministries. These essays represent the rich community of those gathered with a similar vision. May they find a wide and joyous readership."
"This is a gem of a book, filled with outstanding essays across disciplinary divides on a topic that is at once relatively neglected and yet vital for the life of the church. Pastors, scholars, seminary students, thoughtful Christians of all kinds, prepare to have your thoughts deepened, your practices of ministry challenged and enriched, and your hope for the life and calling of the church renewed."
"This is not just a collection of academic essays. It's a series of learned meditations on one of the most breathtaking mysteries of the universe: Jesus Christ, the crucified, risen, and ascended Lord, is alive and active today among us by the Holy Spirit. If you are weary of trying to market the church and reinvent it by our human power, be encouraged. The triune God is at work through his Word and Spirit. Together, these essays encourage pastors and church leaders to make a bold move: to discern the triune God's work and enter in, as those who belong to Christ by the Spirit. Read expectantly, with joy."
"In a world of rapid and disorienting change, a 'bias-for-action' is often a necessary trait of leaders and ministers. But without deep formation in the activity and character of God, these actions can become, as Thomas Merton once described, 'the contagion of our own obsessions.' In this thoughtful and accessible collection of essays, Van Driel and colleagues remind us that God's being and action is first, foremost, and primary, and then leads us to discernment and activity that enables us to develop a bias for 'wise action' that honors and embodies God as our first, foremost, and primary task. This is a timely book that will stimulate both good conversation and more reflective action."
1. What Is Jesus Doing? Christological Thoughts for an Anxious Church and Tired Pastors (Edwin Chr. van Driel)
2. He Ascended into Heaven: The Ascension and Agency of Christ in the Theology of T. F. Torrance (David Fergusson)
3. Rethinking Church in a Post-Christian Age (Edwin Chr. van Driel)
4. Cultivating the Spirit’s Leadership in Congregational Life (Dwight J. Zscheile)
5. A Present Witness: Incarnation, Participation, and the Spirit of God (Scott J. Hagley)
Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care
6. The Mission of God in Pastoral Care (M. Craig Barnes)
7. Shaping a Pastoral Spirituality: Learning from the Spiritual Vision of Quaker Thomas R. Kelly (L. Roger Owens)
8. Baptizing the Ordinary: Divine Agency and Church Administration (Anthony B. Robinson)
9. God’s Agency in Ecclesial Structures: A Time of Pruning (Will Willimon)
10. Ministry and the Concursus Dei (Andrew Root)
Liturgics and Homiletics
11. The Mysterious Mingling of Divine and Human Agency in Liturgical Participation: Pedagogical Reflections (John D. Witvliet)
12. Preaching the Word of God (Nicholas Wolterstorff)
13. The Prophetic Agency of Jesus Christ and the Task of Preaching (Angela Dienhart Hancock)
14. Preaching in Context (Trygve D. Johnson)