On the Writing (and Reading) of Books
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
2. The Liberated Church: Recasting Our Vision of Discipleship
3. The Radical Reformation: The Anabaptists and Suffering Servanthood
4. The Priestly Kingdom: Communal Ecclesiology and Every-Member Ministry
5. The Community of the Spirit: Leadership Jesus’ Style
6. The Politics of Jesus: Disarming the Principalities and Powers
7. The Future of Christianity: Habits of the Upside-Down Kingdom
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 www.daveblackonline.com.