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Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times Paperback – October 3, 2015
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"This book illuminates the resilient faith of a current lamenter's raw trust in God. Everyone engaged in the shared struggle to hope in the midst of a violent and unjust world ought to read this accessible integration of biblical text, witness and sharp insight into the present cultural realties of the American church. Readers will discover a pithy prophetic response to the reality of shame, the problem of privilege and the possibilities of honor, hope and worship with integrity. This volume is a credit to the Resonate series." (James K. Bruckner, professor of Old Testament, North Park Theological Seminary, author, Healthy Human Life)
"Prophetic Lament is a commentary on the Old Testament book of Lamentations. Rather than reading as a typical commentary with foci on individual verses, original languages, and such, the book reads as an extended essay that swerves consciously between the experience of Israel's exile and reflections on contemporary events, particularly issues of justice that have often escaped white churches. . . . "Lamentations is a book that can and should speak into our current circumstances and, in Prophetic Lament, Rah has given us an accessible introduction for our troubled times." (David Swanson, Signs of Life, December 19, 2015)
"Soong-Chan Rah adds a significant voice to the rich and growing interpretive corpus on the book of Lamentations. He brings to his study a special attentiveness to the rootage of lament in Korean religious tradition. As Western culture is increasingly in 'free fall,' there is compelling reason to pay steady attentiveness to Lamentations. Rah's book will be of great value in that now-required attentiveness." (Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary)
"Let me warn you ahead of time. This isn't a how-to, feel-good, seven-steps-to-cool-justice kind of book. In a culture today where we often elevate conversations about justice, reconciliation and peacemaking, Dr. Soong-Chan Rah provokes challenge and courage for the church not just to love the ideas of such things but to commit ourselves to the journey―even at the cost of including the oft forgotten process of deep lament and confession. To say that I loved Prophetic Lament by Dr. Rah would be somewhat misleading. I didn't love the book, but I confess, I needed this book and believe this to be an important resource for the wider church." (Eugene Cho, senior pastor, Quest Church, author of Overrated)
"Not often am I taken by surprise when reading a book. As an academic and a writer, I've read a lot of books, and even though I've read the Bible many times over, I confess I had not really taken Lamentations or lament seriously until now. In Prophetic Lament, Rah gifts the church not only with his caring prophetic voice but also his pastoral calling, which help us to grieve the sins of our society and those of the church. This book is timely and reaches very deep theologically, emotionally and spiritually. If you care about our country and about how God feels about us, Prophetic Lament is not just a must-read; it is a must-read-now! Place this book on the top of your reading priority list." (Randy Woodley, Distinguished Professor of Faith and Culture, George Fox Seminary, author, Shalom and the Community of Creation)
"Soong-Chan Rah argues for reorienting Christian theology, ministry and church life around the harsh realities of our time. The anguished cries of those who endured the ransacking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which come to us in the book of Lamentations, have much to teach us. Repentance and shame, not triumphalism; compassion and justice, not consumerism; hope in a sovereign and faithful God, not despair―these are what that ancient text and Prophetic Lament call us to embrace. A needed word!" (M. Daniel Carroll R., distinguished professor of Old Testament, Denver Seminary)
"As a product of the African-American and urban church I am grateful for this important resource on the mission of God in the context of suffering. Soong-Chan Rah's transparent, prophetic and practical voice comes through in powerful and deeply insightful ways on the pages. In a time when too many churches are held captive to a feel-good and happy-rich gospel, this book shows us a more authentic biblical narrative." (Efrem Smith, president and CEO of World Impact, author of The Post-Black and Post-White Church)
"Finally, a book that rightly commends lament as the best way to interpret and reckon with the pain and suffering so prominent in today's news! The book also gives Lamentations, an oft-overlooked biblical book, a voice―a very fresh voice―in that reckoning. The author's scholarship is first-rate, his style winsome and true-to-life, and his message occasionally hard-hitting but always hugely relevant. An important book for openhearted evangelicals." (Bob Hubbard, professor emeritus of biblical literature, North Park Theological Seminary)
"In modern American Christianity, especially in the white church, we have done a disservice to our faith, our relationship with God and ultimately the justice of our society by focusing on the triumphal Scriptures of praise and glossing over the equally essential Scriptures of lament. In Soong-Chan Rah's riveting and provocative commentary on the book of Lamentations, he shows us that there can be no authentic praise and joy without justice, and no true justice without the deep acknowledgement of injustice, pain and sin inherent in the biblical practice of lament. Soong-Chan Rah masterfully explains the meaning of Lamentations in the context in which it was written, then seamlessly applies the lessons of these Scriptures to our contemporary setting, raising a powerful and prophetic challenge to the American church on critical issues such as racial inequity. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand and embrace a fuller, more authentic and more just expression of Christianity. Prophetic Lament is more evidence of Soong-Chan Rah becoming one of the most important theologians of our time, and one of the few who truly understands the world into which theology must now enter." (Jim Wallis, New York Times bestselling author of The UnCommon Good, president of Sojourners, editor in chief of Sojourners magazine)
"This timely book is indeed prophetic in its call for us to live as the faithful and repentant people of God in our violent age." (C. Christopher Smith, Relevant, December 18, 2015)
About the Author
Soong-Chan Rah (DMin, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity and Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, as well as coauthor of Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith and contributing author for Growing Healthy Asian American Churches. In addition to serving as founding senior pastor of the multiethnic, urban ministry-focused Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), Rah has been a part of four different church-planting efforts and served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Boston. He has been an active member of the Boston TenPoint Coalition (an urban ministry working with at-risk youth) and is a founding member of the Boston Fellowship of Asian-American Ministers. He serves on the boards of World Vision, Sojourners, the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) and the Catalyst Leadership Center. An experienced crosscultural preacher and conference speaker, Rah has addressed thousands around the country at gathering like the 2003 Urbana Student Missions Conference, 2006 Congress on Urban Ministry, 2007 Urban Youth Workers Institute Conference, 2008 CCDA National Conference, 2010 Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) National Preaching Conference and the 2011 Disciples of Christ General Assembly. He and his wife Sue have two children and live in Chicago.
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In a triumphalistic saturated church culture, where victory-language is all that we consume and spew, the act and discipline of lament are ‘swept under the rug.’ But this should not be so! Walking through the Book of Lamentations, Dr. Soong-chan Rah revitalizes a desperately needed exercise of deep-seated faith in God. Perhaps, American churches have far too quickly and exclusively clung to the triumphant talk and walk of the Resurrection without mulling over the horrors of the Crucifixion and Holy Saturday. This imbalanced fixation both reflects our insecurities of vulnerable expressions and produces contactless lifestyles. Lament hears ‘the blood crying out from the ground’ in history and from the wounded, experiences relentless grief, revisits grief, and cries out for God to remember his beloved ones. Lament is not proposed to solve problems but to audience with the one who sees and hears and embraces.