While many manuals advise clergy and congregants on tactics for church survival or thriving, few address the deepest identity, shape, and imperatives of the church in its identity in Christ and the tradition of discipling that stems from his life, work, death, and resurrection.
As compelling as it is clear, Craig Nessan’s important new work retrieves biblical metaphors of the body of Christ and, following Dietrich Bonhoeffer, sees church today as “Christ existing as community.” To theological-probing Nessan then adds contextual analysis and describes the four chief imperatives that mark Christ’s presence in the world today: peacemaking, justice-making, care for creation, and engagement with the other. He then unfolds the real-life implications of this paradigm of Christian community for local church structure, strategies for partnering, public witness, and interreligious engagement.
Craig L. Nessan is William D. Streng Professor for the Education and Renewal of the Church, academic dean, and professor of contextual theology and ethics at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, and serves as coeditor of the online journal Currents in Theology and Mission. He is the author of several books, including, Shalom Church: The Body of Christ as Ministering Community and Beyond Maintenance to Mission: A Theology of the Congregation. He is a member of the Eco-Reformation Speakers Bureau.
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