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It's a Dance: Moving with the Holy Spirit Paperback – November 1, 2007
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Luke is a journalist at a local newspaper in Southern California doing a series of articles on churches in the area. As he interviews Nate, pastor of a nontraditional church that operates a pub, he learns more why than who, what, when, and where.
Patrick Oden uses a fictitious church and fictitious people to write a nonfiction book about the Holy Spirit. Oden destroys the myth that solid Christian doctrine is only communicated in a didactic style. The personalities of the people and the conversational style turn theology into an enlightening, fascinating read.
About the Author
Patrick Oden has a history and theology degree from Wheaton College and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. He lives, writes, runs, watches birds, and kayaks in Lake Arrowhead, California.
from the foreword by Alan Hirsch (author of The Forgotten Ways and The Shaping of Things to Come and founding director of Forge Mission Training Network): "The truth is that I can't think of one text from the ever-increasing EMC [Emerging Missional Church] stable that even gets close to addressing the issues touched on in this sensitive work by Patrick Oden. Sure, there are the standard, heavy theological books on the subject, but none of them (as far as I am aware) pays specific attention to the particularity going on in the creative edges of the church....Using a narrative approach--rather than the more conventional concept-based approach to theologizing--Patrick ably guides us beyond rigid fundamentalism, wet-noodle liberalism, and technique-based ecclesiology to a kind of direct engagement with the Spirit that is as wholesome as it is life-transforming."
Shane Claiborne (author of The Irresistible Revolution, activist, and recovering sinner): "A book written with the artful grace and subtle mystique the Spirit deserves...like a refreshing ballet amid the hustle and bustle of postmodern theologizing."
Neil Cole (church starter and wineskin architect; author of Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens and Search & Rescue): "There is music everywhere if you stop and listen. Oden has heard the beat and started into the dance. In this book, Oden has truth and fiction twirling together in a beautiful waltz. Once you hear the music, you can never go without it. Join the dance."
Michael Frost (founding director of Centre for Evangelism and Global Mission at Morling Theological College in Sydney, Australia; author of Exiles and coauthor of The Shaping of Things to Come): "It's a Dance is a conversation more than a book. It's a lively discussion through which we develop a fluid, organic, shifting, growing awareness of the unmistakable and missional work of the Holy Spirit. It's a conversation that the emerging church definitely needs to have and we are indebted to Patrick Oden for starting it."
Eddie Gibbs (senior professor, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California): "The theoretical principles of the emerging-church phenomena only reach a limited audience of pastors and students. Patrick Oden's storytelling approach makes those insights far more attractive and accessible to a wider audience, which needs to be part of the conversation. He has done an excellent job not only of popularizing the key concepts but of adding insights of his own." ---
Veli-Matti Karkkainen (professor of systematic theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California; docent of ecumenics, University of Helsinki, Finland): "While books on pneumatology--the doctrine and spirituality of the Holy Spirit--abound in these days, there is no work comparable to that of It's a Dance: Moving with the Holy Spirit. This pneumatological narrative indeed is a dance with the Spirit, an invitation to the Divine Ball, a feast of pneumatology. It not only breaks new ground in combining creatively biblical, pastoral, theological, and literary elements. It also points to the future of doing theology in a postmodern world, consulting spiritual experiences in the community and everyday life along with best insights of theological tradition and contemporary constructive thinking."
Kirsteen Kim (honorary lecturer, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, U.K.; vice-moderator of the World Council of Churches' Commission on World Mission and Evangelism; author of The Holy Spirit in the World): "An imaginative book for people who have been touched by the Spirit of God and want to know more. It introduces key biblical passages and doctrines on the Holy Spirit in a painless way, and gently widens perceptions of where and how the Spirit is at work."
Dan Kimball (a pastor at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California; author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church and The Emerging Church): "What an encouraging, inspiring, and refreshing book to read! Often we forget the critical importance of acknowledging the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives that this book strongly reminds us of."
Frank D. Macchia (professor of theology, Vanguard University of Southern California, Costa Mesa; author of Baptized in the Spirit: A Global Pentecostal Theology): "What a great idea: theology through table talk! Patrick Oden invites the reader to listen in on a series of fictional conversations about the life of the Holy Spirit. The result is an invitation to focus on Jesus and to follow him by participating, and inviting others to participate, in the creative dance of the Holy Trinity. There is no dry or abstract theologizing here, only a highly-readable guide to the Holy Spirit that everyone will truly enjoy, from the seasoned pastor to the new Christian."
Jurgen Moltmann (professor of theology, University of Tubingen, Germany): "I read Patrick Oden's book with growing admiration. This new style of theology is a surprise from chapter to chapter. One is drawn into a proceeding conversation and is 'in' all of a sudden. I like chapter 9 on inciting creativity. The whole book is inspired by the creativity of the Spirit. It's a 'dance' in the vividness of the Spirit. Let this dance never end!"
Carole Spencer (adjunct professor of church history and spiritual formation, George Fox Evangelical Seminary, Portland, Oregon): "Among the myriad new books on the emergent church that have appeared lately, Patrick Oden's book is different. It's a compelling dialogue, solid theology, and insightful biblical studies all rolled into one. Oden's book is an amazing combination of a Quaker understanding of the Holy Spirit with revolutionary insight for the renewal of the church in our time. This book is a great gift to the Friends Church and beyond. I plan to use this book as one of the required texts in my Theology and Culture class because it provides ready access to how critical thinking about the doctrine of the Holy Spirit interfaces with the role and function of the church in a missional context." ---
About the Author
Patrick Oden has a PhD in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Azusa Pacific University and Fuller Seminary. He lives in San Dimas, CA with his wife Amy and baby daughter Vianne.
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Top Customer Reviews
Patrick Oden writing a compelling narrative here that is well thought out and flows very well. I found the characters well developed (thought not the focus of the book) and I found myself relating to many of the characters on the book and the questions they are asking. If this work was just a work of fiction, I would recommend it as a good read.
Yet this book is so much more than the story that is told. The beauty of this book is that it exposes people to very deep theological concepts, questions and terms in a very non confrontational and easy-going way. It's as if you are along for the ride as two men converse. It's a Dance exposes it's reader to very unfamiliar theological terms such as kenosis (the outpouring of the Spirit) and percholeresis (moving with the Spirit), yet explains them in language that anyone can understand. It is as the title suggest, a dance. It tackles difficult questions of theology like salvation and what Christian worship and living should look like and presents an interesting perspective of how he believes it should look. Yet this book is grounded on the firm ground of the core beliefs of Christianity.
The questions posed in the minds of many of the characters are common in today's world dealing with how one views God, the church, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and how one pursues their spirituality. These are questions that are asked frequently in our churches yet are never answered satisfactorily or really discussed. A portrait is painted for those who may be experiencing crises in faith, questions about God, or dissatisfaction with Church and offers them hope. On a personal note, this book reflects what I have experienced in my walk with Christ since coming back to a Christian faith four years ago. His descriptions of how the Spirit moves in our lives and how the Spirit inspires us to be creative, missional and relational are all themes that ring true in my own experience. Yet Patrick's book challenges us to look more intently at the role the Spirit plays in our lives, in our families, in our relationships, in our communities, and in our churches.
I enjoyed the book immensely and it really got me thinking. So I thank Patrick Oden for this tremendous work on pursuing our Christian walk.
I highly recommend this book even if the reader is well-versed on the work of the Holy Spirit. Oden brings a healthy dose of reality that people seek answers and "It's a Dance" sojourns through those answers in a way readers can relate to the Holy Spirit and relate to others.
Through a series of events that only God could have ordered, Nate found himself the pastor of an unusual church where the members meet in a local pub. He explains to Luke the differences between the church of Acts and church today, and how, with the help of others, he tries to allow the Spirit to work through the church rather than working the Spirit. We, as readers, are given the opportunity to eavesdrop on the conversation, as well as to observe Luke's internal reaction to what he learns from Nate and the others.
I tend to steer clear of non-fiction. With many non-fiction books, most of the time I feel as if I'm being lectured. However, as I read "It's a Dance," I couldn't help feeling like I sat at the table with Nate and Luke, listening as Nate expounded and Luke questioned. The style was natural. I didn't feel like I was being instructed, but rather as if I were being taught. There *is* a difference between the two.
The personal stories enhanced the book and interruptions were a matter of course and dealt with accordingly. By the time the worship service came at the end of the book, even though I was actually on my lunch break at work, I was able to join in. And I cried at the end. I can honestly say that I haven't ever read a book that made me cry. This book comes at a point in my life where I have been thinking for a long time about the inadequacy of today's churches. Like Debbie and Melissa, I also quit going to church because I wasn't getting what I needed. I was lost and no one came searching for me. A former pastor of mine told us of a desire he had for the church to be as it was in Acts 2:42-47. I realized that was what I was looking for, but it was nowhere to be found. Even the church I now attend, though wonderful and very instrumental in my return to God, is not near what I've been searching for. I may not be able to find it here while I am still on this Earth, but I know it's there. And I know that I'm not the only one. Reading Patrick's book has encouraged me, and it has also given me a desire to seek the Holy Spirit's work in my own life. For that reason alone, I would recommend this book. Fortunately, I also think it's a good book.