Wednesday 30 May 2018

Why You're Here: Ethics for the Real World

Recently I won a copy of Why You're Here: Ethics for the Real World (John G. Stackhouse, Jr.) on Goodreads.  Martin found it really exciting and has written the following review of it.

Stackhouse develops a cogent ethic from twin vocations: the 'Human' calling we were created for, to 'maximise shalom', and the 'Christian' calling of the Church as agents of salvation.  These impel us to act, even though our options and outcomes will routinely be compromised in this time between Christ's ascension and return.  Stackhouse explores that tension for individuals, communities, and the public sphere.

I plan to share the book with several friends, both new to and familiar with theological reading.  I found the sections on the two callings very useful and expect to re-use their language often.  The latter half had a less straightforward flow, with more digressions and responses to previous authors, but the discussion was worthwhile.  The sustained attention paid to shortcomings, ambiguities, and devil's choices was very welcome.  

A key feature for many will be the argument that our Human calling is 'permanent'.  It was given to us before the Fall and persists even to the eschatological New Earth, therefore it remains important to the church today. These two callings interlink, and thus our evangelism will be strongest when our churches embrace their twin calling and our future hope expands to all the richness of creation.

A second controversial theme is that Christians will legitimately arrive at very different positions.  God might even need to spread us across opposing camps, both to ensure representation within those movements and to voice aspects of truth which seem conflicting within our frame of reference.  Thus believers should extend each other liberty and trust, incidentally becoming a model for a pluralist society.

Despite calling for "the balance of a runner traversing a broken-up and heaving landscape"[p224] the book was encouraging.  Overall I found it compelling and practical.

Disclosure:  I took courses under Stackhouse in 2002, so may be predisposed to his worldview.  I received a free copy via random giveaway coordinated by goodreads.
Sound interesting?  You can read more on the author's own blog, or buy yourself a copy here :-)

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