This website was originally established in 2002 in conjunction with the publication of my book, A Grammar of Christian Faith: Systematic Explorations in Christian Life and Doctrine, 2 vols., Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. A collection of my essays and other writings, On Being the Church of Jesus Christ in Tumultuous Times, was published in 2005 and another collection, A Lover's Quarrel: A Theologian and His Beloved Church, 2014.
The purpose of this site is 1) to encourage folk to read and engage the primary themes of these books; 2) to provide a place to post some previous and new essays and some miscellaneous postings such as sermons, prayers, talks, notes; 3) to establish a blog for posting ongoing commentary on the multifaceted Christian witness to and engagement with the cultures and politics of our contemporary worlds; and 4) to post some responses to my books and the writings on this website.
In short, this website intends to encourage conversation concerning the proper and truthful grammar of the church’s witness to the triune God. I am hopeful the site will be upbuilding for folk earnest about the Christian life and challenging for folk simply curious about how Christian discourses and practices shape human belief, emotions, and actions.
I am guided in my Grammar book and in my ongoing theological work by this definition of the church:
The church is that liberative and redemptive
community of persons
called into being
by the Gospel of Jesus Christ
through the Holy Spirit
to witness in word and deed
to the living triune God
for the benefit of the world
to the glory of God.
My theologizing pivots around the following definition of the Gospel:
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News
that the God of Israel, the Creator of all creatures,
has in freedom and love become incarnate
in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth
to enact and reveal God’s gracious reconciliation
of humanity to Godself, and
through the Holy Spirit calls and empowers human beings
to participate in God’s liberative and redemptive work by
acknowledging God’s gracious forgiveness in Jesus,
repenting of human sin, receiving the gift of freedom, and
embracing authentic community by
loving the neighbor and the enemy,
caring for the whole creation, and
hoping for the final triumph of God’s grace
as the triune Ultimate Companion of all creatures.
Therefore, I construe Christian theology as primarily confessional theology in the context of the church. I argue that Christian faith provides special ways of speaking and acting, in its discourses and practices, that make sense of human life by giving it meaning, practicality, truth, and hope.
Learning how to speak Christian discourse in worship and life is crucial to learning how to be a Christian. Rather than supposing that Christian discourses and practices must be continually updated and transformed in order to be relevant to the world on the world’s own terms, I propose that we need to rediscover how Christian concepts, practices, and understanding are intended to form Christian life in all its rich depths and thereby transform the world.
My daughter Verity Jones and her husband, William Wagnon, helped set up the original website in 2002. Will Boyd, of www.3storychurch.com , has re-formed this site to be more useable and manageable. My thanks to Verity, William, and now to Will.
I invite visitors to this website to peruse the whole site and to enter into conversation with me.