When Everything's on Fire
Is it possible to hold on to faith in an age of unbelief?
Intellectual certainty has long been a cornerstone of the Christian faith. But in an age of secularism, skepticism, and cynicism, our worldviews have been shaken. Various solutions exist—some double down on certainty, while others deconstruct their faith until there is nothing left at all. But Brian Zahnd offers a third way: what is needed is not a demolition but instead a renovation of faith.
Written with personal and pastoral experience, Zahnd extends an invitation to move beyond the crisis of faith toward the journey of reconstruction. As the world rapidly changes in ways that feel incompatible with Christianity, When Everything's on Fire provides much-needed hope. A stronger, more confident faith is possible when it is grounded in the beauty and truth of Christ. Zahnd permits us to risk the journey of deconstruction so that God can forge something more beautiful in its place.
"In our postmodern age ablaze with skepticism and secularism, Brian Zahnd's pastoral instincts and prophetic insights encourage us not to fear the loss of all that is being burned up in the church, but to be reassured that the enduring fire of God's love is branding the entire world with the kingdom of God. This is the burning bush of a book I didn't know I needed. Turn aside, take off your shoes, and read!"
"What we need is a wise, unflustered, generous, and disruptive friend. Brian Zahnd is this kind of friend. Engaging wounds inflicted by the church, questions haunting the mind, and those aches deep in the soul, Brian writes as one who has truly encountered Jesus, even while wrestling in the dark. Brian writes with the curiosity and daring of one who has learned to trust the long lyric of love."
"Is it possible to hold on to Christian faith in an age of unbelief? This is one of the many questions Brian Zahnd wisely and prophetically engages in When Everything's on Fire. It's a massive question that requires a level of exploration many are not adept to speak on. But Brian has time and time again demonstrated an uncanny ability to help us navigate this present age. Whether you are losing faith or want to help others hold on to it, we would do well to have Zahnd take our hand and be our guide."
"It is always a gift to find the words that lend language to your own experience. I needed this book. My world needs this book. Brian's words are a pleasing aroma, pastoral and full of love, reminding me—in the midst of what has often been my own terrifying disillusionment—that Jesus Christ remains the participatory God who empathizes with my lostness but does not leave me there, alone. How I have longed for faith informed by the kind of love that casts out fear, but what a frightening thing it is—to lose the fear that has for so long equated itself with faith! When Everything's on Fire, indeed. But does not my heart burn within me? Yes, and—admittedly—with a hint of envy. This is the book I wish I had written."
"Though this beautiful, compassionate, and intelligently crafted book is for everyone, it is especially for those who feel their faith is barely hanging by fingerholds over the abyss of unbelief. Before you let go, take a moment and a breath, and read this book. You are not alone. You do matter."
"'The theologian who writes about God but never utters Oh, God in prayer is not a theologian I'm interested in,' says Brian Zahnd. And I find Brian to be a very interesting pastor-theologian indeed! His well-tuned heart resonates with the hope that comes from having lived a thoughtful, prayerful, and intellectually and emotionally engaged life of encounter and reencounter with God—oh, God—in the beauty of Jesus Christ. Brian invites the singed and weary, those who find it hard to believe, to get rid of the smell of a smoky world and church afire with fickle fundamentalisms, empty modernist promises, and faithlessness to come. Come and be renewed in God's consuming fire, fully aware of the risk and wonder, starts and restarts, passion and stillness, humility and 'house remodeling' that come with it. If your faith is thin, if you've placed trust in what has proven to be untrustworthy, if you're wondering if it's still possible to be a Christian in the current fiery melee of the world, the church, and your own head and heart, come stand with Brian. This wise and tender friend will speak to you, with you, and for you, having first listened to and asked your questions in the company of philosophers, artists, writers, scientists, Scripture writers, and the very subject of Scriptures himself—and found those questions honored, upended, and reordered to the bright mystery of Christ Jesus. If you stand there long enough, you will find yourself enfolded by Jesus' first and last word over you, which is not righteous certitude, paper-thin apologetic, or religious sentiment but blazing, resurrected love."
"All truths are open secrets, and everything good and beautiful is accessible to everyone; so it is theoretically possible for any of us to stumble into any truth any time. But I believe the book you are holding now is one that truly only Brian Zahnd could write, and the precise book we needed him to write in this particular moment. His gift is clarity, and the way he focuses his prophetic vision here is so lucid, singular, and laser focused, it is almost blinding. Zahnd does not offer us certainty in uncertain times, which is always just a bad magic trick, anyway—he offers something much better: beauty. This is a flaming, scorchingly beautiful vision of faith in a world where faith has left many of us in the cold. Prepare to be burned."
"As a pastor, teacher, and friend, I've known many people who feel that their faith—and therefore their life—is on fire. This isn't in the 'on-fire-for-the-Lord' sense, but flames that threaten to bring to ash their once passionate trust in Jesus. More and more people in the West are walking away from their faith, but it doesn't have to be this way! There is no better guide than Brian Zahnd for someone who is in a season of life when everything's on fire. Brian's ability to speak as both prophet and pastor illuminates a path forward for those who face a dark night of unknowing. Rather than offering pseudocertainty and pithy apologetical arguments—rooted as they often are in modernity's gods—Brian invites readers to embrace the greatest mystery of all: a God who actually looks like Jesus! From now on, when I have a friend and/or member of my congregation who is going through a faith crisis, When Everything's on Fire will be the first book I hand them. I can't recommend this book enough—it's deeply moving no matter where you are in your journey with Jesus!"
"Brian Zahnd's unique voice is neither 'liberal' nor 'conservative.' It is both cheekily irreverent and profoundly faithful. Above all, it is Christ-centered. He reminds me a bit of the late great William Stringfellow in his defiance of fashionable religious trends, and his fearless challenges to 'monotheistic therapeutic deism.' I just wish the church would listen to him more. Here's your chance!"
Foreword by Bradley Jersak
Part 1: When Everything's on Fire
1. The Madman's Lantern
2. Deconstructing Deconstruction
3. The Day Derrida Died
4. The End Is the Beginning
5. Losing Jesus
6. The Dark Night of Unknowing
7. The Only Foundation
8. All Alone Upstairs
Part 2: Faith Forged from the Ashes
9. A Mystic or Nothing at All
10. The Grace of Second Naiveté
11. The House of Love
Conclusion: Every Bush Ablaze