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Letters to a Future Church: Words of Encouragement and Prophetic Appeals Paperback – March 10, 2012
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"My contributon to @ivpbooks 'Letters to a Future Church' sums up my work from past 3 years in 1 essay." (David E. Fitch, B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary, on Twitter)
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The letters, taken together, are haunting, troubling, critical, beautiful, and hopeful. While there is diversity of opinion and specific concerns, clearly the letter writers love the church. But don't get too prepared for a love-fest just yet. These writers are trying to inform, move, and cajole the church to be what it is supposed to be. You will find sharp critique here, but not condemnation. The writers are ever hopeful. At the (still) beginning of the 21st century, these writers decry standard church practices that undermine the very gospel the church claims to stand on. They demand that the church should actually live as a community where faith and practice are truly united in the Christian life.
In making their case, the writers point out many areas where the church has (unwittingly I hope) failed to live out its faith as a people that truly bring salt and light to the world. With agony they lament that on the whole, the measure of Christian morality is little different than their secular counterparts. Moreover, actual concern for justice and mercy, both in word and deed has been in short supply. 'Conservatives' will squirm- but so will 'Liberals'.Read more ›
The question was asked of church leaders from around the world, "If you could write a letter to the North American church today what would it say?" Well, in the fall of 2010, over twenty-five of today's leading Christian thinkers gathered at the Eighth Letter Conference in Toronto to answer the question posed above. As a result of that conference and the letters that were written, the book, Letters To A Future Church was born.
The book Letters To A Future Church edited by Chris Lewis, the cofounder of the Epiphaneia Network in Canada and one of the organizers of the Eighth Letter Conference is a book of letters written by a number of church leaders as well as others who are a part of the church offering words of encouragement as well as heart-felt prophetic appeals.
Letters To A Future Church is composed of 4 distinct sections: Mission, Truth, Art and Hope with 20 different Chapters, a part of the book that is referred to as a "reprise" and then concludes with four letters written to "the future church from the end of a millennium." Included in the book are letters written to the church by Tim Challies, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Shane Claiborne, Eugene Peterson, John Ortberg and others. Some of the names and people included in the book you might not recognize; however, who they are what they do and their letter to the church is as equally important as those of the more established and recognized lovers and leaders of Christ's church such as Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and John Ortberg.Read more ›
John's experience begs an interesting question: What might an eighth letter to the Church of North America say?
This is the question a group of Canadian believers posed to Christians all over North America. The responses they received became first the "Eighth Letter" conference and now this book, Letters to a Future Church. This is a collection of love letters written to the North American Church from a spectrum of North American Christians.
As you might expect from such a variety of worshippers, the letters range in style, content and quality. Some short, clear and poignant, like Rachel Held Evans' plea for bigger banquet tables. Some demand to be read a few times through and digested slowly, like Walter Brueggemann and Shane Claiborne's contributions.
The topics range, though a few themes emerge over and over: a call for unity instead of fighting, true community instead of paternalistic aid, and a vision for the Church to return to the forefront of culture.
Not all of the letters are excellent. But this only lends credibility to the project - the book embraces an actually diverse cultural and theological church.
I found some of the letters pretentious. Some I don't want to read again because they were too challenging.Read more ›