restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


On the Writing (and Reading) of Books

 David Alan Black  

In the current welter of religious publication, it might be helpful to explain why, with my latest book, I’ve decided to throw another pound or two of paper on the heap.

Here’s the expanded table of contents. I think it speaks for itself.

The Downward Path of Jesus: From Cultural Conformity to Radical Discipleship


1. Introduction: The Downward Path of Jesus

Smashing Our Idols

Imitating Christ

The Jesus Paradigm

A Cruciform Lifestyle

Making Disciples

2. The Liberated Church: Recasting Our Vision of Discipleship

Cultural Christianity or Costly Discipleship?

Churchianity or Christ?

Two Allegiances?

Lions or Lambs?

The End of Christendom?

Reformation, Revival, or Restoration?

3. The Radical Reformation: The Anabaptists and Suffering Servanthood

New Testament Church Life

The Anabaptists and Clerical Ministry 

A New Covenant Approach

Apolitical Christianity

The Brotherhood of All Believers

The Anabaptists and Missions

Conclusion: Why Study the Anabaptists?

4. The Priestly Kingdom: Communal Ecclesiology and Every-Member Ministry

The FDR-ing of the Church

Whose Responsibility Is It to Admonish the Unruly?

Every Member a Minister

From Serve Us to Service

Every Member a Missionary

5. The Community of the Spirit: Leadership Jesus’ Style

How’s Your Hekastology?

There’s Only One “Senior Pastor”

Church Leadership According to Philippians 1:1

Pastors as Shepherds

Summary: Who Rules the Church?

6. The Politics of Jesus: Disarming the Principalities and Powers

The Seduction of Politics

An American Theocracy?

A Post-Political Church

“Christian” Politics?

The Just War Tradition and Pacifism

Cross-Based Politics

A Test Case: Iran

Addendum: Comparison of the 1925, 1963, and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message

7. The Future of Christianity: Habits of the Upside-Down Kingdom

Upside-Down Deviants

Doing the Kingdom Together

The Gospel of Hospitality

How’s Your Serve?

What really surprises me is that I had not thought of writing this book earlier in my career. For New Testament teachers, a subject as central as discipleship can be ignored only at our peril.

In some ways, I’ve returned to my youth, when as a Jesus freak I extolled the Jesus way of life (while spouting the worst platitudes). But Jesus freaks never go out of style. If you think there are already enough books on this subject, you are probably right. I offer my own views not as an autonomous work but as an intellectual nod to my mentors, namely Bonhoeffer, Ellul, and Muggeridge. “I planted, Apollos watered” – but neither of them mattered in the least. The essential thing is to get the message across, n’est pas?

I must have the book finalized before I leave for Central Asia next month. I’ve entrusted the manuscript to a very select group of friends and colleagues whose criticisms I await like an anxiety-ridden mother.

Jacque Ellul once said, “Look at the one speaking, study that person’s face, learn that person’s life, and then take his or her words seriously – or don’t.” I like that. It’s really the only way to judge a publication. A book is true only when we can trust the one who wrote it.

Then again, only imbeciles will orient their faith and thinking toward mere men. Everything in our lives goes perversely wrong when we place our trust in any human author. Our faith must always and only be in Christ.

So please do not expect too much from this little book of mine. In the end, the Logos made flesh is the only one we can trust.

August 20, 2008

David Alan Black is the editor of

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