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About Robert D. Cornwall
Robert D. Cornwall is Minister at Large with standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He retired as pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Troy, Michigan in June 2021. He serves as the Editor of Sharing the Practice (Academy of Parish Clergy). He holds a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Cornwall is very active in ecumenical and interfaith work. He currently serves as a Chaplain for the Troy Police Department and Co-Chair of the Disciples of Christ-Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Bilateral Dialog. He previously served as the Convener of the Troy-area Interfaith Group and was a founder of the Metropolitan Coalition of Congregations (suburban Detroit), serving as its President from 2013 to 2015. He earlier served as President of the Greater Santa Barbara Clergy Association, the UCSB University Religious Conference, and helped found the Lompoc Interfaith Group.
The author of a growing number of books on history, theology, the Bible, and more, he likes to opine on matters religious, historical, theological, cultural, and political.
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"As an urban pastor and church historian, Cornwall seeks to reclaim aspects of his church's ecclesial inheritance that continue to resonate within American religious and cultural life. Using the principles of freedom and covenant as interpretive guides, he writes a succinct, readable, and persuasive interpretation of this distinctive American church tradition. Designed to be a study guide for individual readers and classes, this slender volume can help Disciples reframe the way they understand their church."
--Keith Watkins, Church Historian, Open Road Cyclist
"This accessible yet thorough treatment on Disciples' ethos and vocation counters the oft-used quip: 'You can be Disciples and believe whatever you want.' Rather, as Cornwall rightly argues, Disciples are marked by a peculiar call to a unity that encompasses diversity, a freedom fortified by responsibility, and a denominational particularity that nonetheless honors our common apostolic witness to Christ. . . . A timely, persuasive call from a thoughtful theologian and pastor committed to Disciples, and the whole church!"
--José Francisco Morales Torres, Director of Pastoral Formation, Disciples Seminary Foundation, Claremont, California
Robert D. Cornwall is Senior Pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Troy, MI. He received his PhD in Historical Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is editor of Sharing the Practice (Academy of Parish Clergy). His books include Religion, Politics and Dissent, 1660-1832, co-edited with William Gibson (2010), Faith in the Public Square (2012), and Unfettered Spirit: Spiritual Gifts for the New Great Awakening (2013).
Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, or the Eucharist are some of the names used to signify what is arguably the center of our worship as Christians.
"Although the Eucharist may stand at the center of Christian worship, there are a great variety of theologies and practices present within the Christian community. For some it is a mere memorial of Jesus' last supper with his disciples. For others it is the place where one not only encounters Jesus' spiritual presence, but consumes his true body and true blood under the signs of bread and wine. Although rooted in the practices of the early Christians, time has witnessed considerable evolution, and with evolution comes diversity of practice and belief," says author, Dr. Robert Cornwall.
This newest addition to the Topical Line Drives series offers a rich but brief stimulus for us to converse about our differences in theology and practice. It is Dr. Cornwall's hope that such conversations will increase our joy in the experience of this sacrament given to us by Jesus Christ.
What does your spiritual DNA look like? In terms of your spiritual identity, where do you come from and where are you going? We live in an age when many Christians have experienced several denominational and religious communities. Many wonder what to do with these experiences. At the same time many congregations are made up of people who come from different traditions, and the question is how to bring these diverse experiences into the life of the congregation in an enriching way. If we take as our starting point, the call of Abraham and Sarah to take a journey to an unknown land with the promise that their descendants would be a blessing to the nations, what might this look like in terms of our spiritual lives? Join with the author as he draws on his spiritual journey that has taken him into several denominational traditions, as well as his experiences as a pastor and historical theologian, to discern values and concepts that can help congregations and individuals make sense of their diverse spiritual experiences, so that together we might fulfill the Abrahamic calling, reaffirmed in Christ, to be a blessing to the nations.
2nd Expanded Edition
All too frequently studies of the gifts of the Spirit consist largely of answering two questions: "What are the gifts?" and "Which ones do I have?" In many cases studies go on to a third question: "How can I get more?"
In response, institutional churches and theologically and intellectually respectable Christians often tend to avoid the work of the Holy Spirit in the church entirely. It's much easier to simply close the doors and windows than it is to deal with the wind (John 3:8). After all, they've seen the wind blow out the candles, disarrange the altar vestments, and send a chill through the congregants.
Author, pastor, and church historian Bob Cornwall has experienced all of this for himself. He has seen traditional churches and worship. He has seen Pentecostal worship. He has led congregations in difficult times. For more than 30 years, he has studied, practiced, prayed, and lived the work of the Holy Spirit in the church. The result is Unfettered Spirit: Spiritual Gifts for the New Great Awakening. Here he avoids both the errors of replacing the freedom of the Spirit with human whim and of trying to tame or confine the Spirit that will not be fettered. He asks: "Do you truly believe that God is present in the world? And, do you believe that God is working through us to break down the walls that divide us from God, from each other, and from the world? And if you do, do you believe that you have been gifted and empowered to participate in this ministry that takes down the walls of egoism, suspicion, greed, self-interest, and hatred?"
If you can say "yes" to these questions, jump right in. This is the book for you.
If you are hesitant, or if the idea of the Holy Spirit working unfettered in your congregation and community frightens you, read the first four chapters carefully as Bob lays the theological foundation. You may find your "maybe" or even your "no" turned into a "yes."
Building on this foundation, Bob continues with five chapters on the gifts of the Spirit as described in Scripture. These are practical discussions that will let you keep your bearings in discussions of the Spirit and, more importantly, in a community where the Spirit is active.
Finally, he concludes with a discussion of how to lead and pastor a church where the gifts of the Spirit are active. Whether you are a Pentecostal, an evangelical, a mainliner, a progressive, or any other label you might find for yourself or your church, you will profit from reading this book.
"Prayer changes things."
It's a common saying, and too often Christian discussion of prayer deals only with how we can change other things and other people through prayer. But what if prayer is much more than we imagine? What if it is also the means of correcting our relationship to the Creator and at the same time of changing our relationships with one another? Perhaps prayer can ultimately help transform our theology, what we believe about God, into character and action.
In Ultimate Allegiance, Dr. Bob Cornwall takes us to the Lord's Prayer, a short and simple prayer that is well-known and often recited. But in each of its major petitions, he finds deep meaning that challenges us to think and to change. In fact, this prayer of Jesus brings us to the ultimate question of just where we should place our ultimate allegiance.
This book can be read individually but is designed especially for small group or church studies, especially in conjunction with the related study guide.
Can the Bible speak to people in this postmodern age? Are we doomed to a choice between rigid fundamentalism and complete rejection of this foundational source for Christianity?
Bob Cornwall has found that he can take the Bible seriously in his ministry, and yet avoid such controversial labels as "inerrancy" or "infallibility." Taking his vocabulary and direction from the work of Karl Barth, he charts a course toward a serious study and use of scripture that embraces historical-critical methology, but at the same time expects God to speak through the text in ways that will change our lives and minister to this postmodern age.
Following the outlines of the Participatory Study Method, Dr. Robert Cornwall presents a study guide to the book of Ephesians that is both usable and challenging while not skirting the difficult issues.
These eight lessons take you through the letter leading from the history and background to modern application and sharing in corporate study and worship. Whether you are approaching this book as an individual, as a small group, or in a larger classroom setting, this study guide will provide you with direction, exercises, and questions for discussion and further investigation.
This study guide will be useful for individual study, as a guide to key topics in Ephesians, or for small groups.
You've been a lectionary preacher throughout your ministry. You like the discipline of dealing with the scripture of the week rather than just grabbing something that is easy for you to handle.
You're willing to preach on the hard stuff. But what about the rest of scripture, those passages that never appear in the weekly readings from the Revised Common Lectionary? Are you and your congregation missing something that could be of great benefit? Dr. David Ackerman, who writes the introduction to From Words of Woe to Unbelievable News, felt the need to cover more of scripture and proposed a fourth year lectionary that covered passages that are not included in the Revised Common Lectinoary.
In turn, Dr. Bob Cornwall, a pastor highly qualified for the task, chose to use these texts in a series of sermons for Lent and Holy Week. He preached those sermons in 2014. We now offer these sermons in this Topical Line Drives volume. One of the stumbling blocks with new ideas is the question of how one gets started. It's sometimes hard to find just the approach to take to a new set of texts and a new set of ideas. Bob Cornwall leads the way, finding timely and powerful applications of these difficult texts. Besides being a resource for pastors, these sermons provide meditations that can be used as the basis for a Lenten study or for small groups.
The doctrine of the trinity is probably the most complex and mysterious topic in Christian theology, yet it impacts our understanding of many other doctrines.
Pastor/Theologian Robert D. Cornwall brings his knowledge of church history to the task of examining this doctrine, looking at how it developed and what justifies its presence in Christian theology. He uses the history of his own Disciples of Christ tradition as one of the expressions of the Stone-Campbell movement, which avoids creeds very effectively in examining how we distinguish between the statements and events of scripture and our theological reflections on them.
Can a doctrine not mentioned in scripture be of value? Are creeds necessary or even useful? Cornwall threads a careful course between the value of the creeds, and within them the doctrine of the trinity, in defining our ecumenical relationships and task on the one and, and on the other the danger of having creeds as a test of fellowship and faith. While rooted in his own denomination's traditions, this is very valuable to other denominations and movements as we examine what defines us while at the same time seeking freedom in non-essentials.
This book is especially strong in examining the history of the development of this doctrine and connecting this to our ongoing reflection on scripture and what our tradition and experience provides.
This short volume is valuable to all those who seek to understand the trinity not just as an element in a doctrinal system, but as it aids us in thinking about elements of our faith.
What do the letters of John, tucked away near the end of the New Testament, tell us other than that we ought to love one another? That's a good message but can we put some muscle into it?
With the help of Dr. Robert D. Cornwall and his new study guide on the Letters of John in the Participatory Study Series, we certainly can Cornwall guides us through a historical, theological and practical study of these three little letters, taking 1st century material, helping us understand it clearly, and applying it to our daily lives in the 21st century.
Besides its value in studying these books, this guide provides a model for a successful small group or individual study of any Bible passage. Each lesson includes readings, questions, exercises, and a suggested prayer in closing helping to bring the application home.
This study is useful for individuals and small groups, but can also be valuable in planning a sermon series.