My book: I need your help

It’s time to start writing my first book. As many of you know, I had a very powerful spiritual encounter four years ago that permanently stamped Matthew 9:13 on my soul, where Jesus says to the Pharisees, “Go and find out what this means: ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.'” I have become increasingly convinced that Matthew 9:13 is what Jesus would say to the American evangelical church today. We are in need of some major corrections in our theology which has gotten muddled through its oversimplification and popularization. Two springs ago, I took a retreat at Camp Highroad and came up with a series of “This not that” statements, starting with “mercy not sacrifice,” thinking that they would comprise the chapters of my first theology book. They have evolved and marinated since then. Now I have twenty. I have paired each “This not that” with a question. I’m not sure if the question is phrased right or if the pairings are right. I’m not sure what order to put them in. Some may be redundant and unnecessary, or I might not be covering a topic that is critically important. That’s why I need you to help me. Because I honestly believe that God is going to speak through you. So please look at my twenty prospective chapters below and give me your feedback on the pairings and questions I have create. Also if you have thoughts on other Christian writers I should read and utilize for any chapters, please share those.

Mercy not sacrifice How do we love our neighbor?
Worship not performance How do we love God?
Trust not opinion What makes us righteous?
Kingdom not stadium What are we building?
Servanthood not leadership Who is in charge?
Deliverance not punishment Why did Jesus die?
Mystery not certitude What can we know?
Emancipation not conquest Why do we share the gospel?
Gift not reward What is God’s grace?
Journey not decision How does salvation transpire?
Weakness not power How does Jesus reign?
Restoration not escape What is God’s goal for creation?
Awe not fright How do we fear God?
Cross not sword How does God conquer?
Instigator not dominitrax How does God intervene?
Communion not correctness What is God’s goal for humanity?
Samaritan not Pharisee Who are the best disciples?
Beauty not fascism What is God’s glory?
Inversion not privilege Who does God pick?
Empathy not sanctimony Why does God judge?

19 thoughts on “My book: I need your help

  1. Morgan,

    If this is to be of value, it will have to be concise and rely upon substance, not re-statements of pathos appeals.

    You’re gonna want a make a clean break from adult youth group thinkers like Claiborne, McKnight, rob, driscs, RHE, etc.

    As well meaning as they may be, they are for youth groups for adults. Baby talk that leaves intelligent young people unimpressed and uninterested.

      • The categories themselves are not bad hooks.

        Pathos would enter into how you flushed them out. And we’re not against all pathos here, bringing pathos out by bringing the reader to a scandalizing or disturbing conclusion is a great way to communicate a point.

        Now, constantly appealing to, for example, the tragedy of Christian history with something like: “…was ‘right belief’ really worth all of the crusades, inquisitions, heresy trials? Couldn’t we have looked to the example of…” is a great way to reduce Christian history to a “noble savage”-esque distraction.

        Not saying you’ve done this, just that it’s a temptation. But that sort of thing is ultra skim milk with no meat and will have 15-25 year olds, who grew up sitting through bad school teachers producing similar rants regarding everything from the Norman Conquest of England to genetically-modified organisms, rolling their eyes, tuning out and politely nodding so that no questions draw out the session.

  2. Morgan, after looking through your list and these comments, it’s clear to me that you need a good editor. I am experienced in helping pastors create meaningful books that influence lives. Contact me off this list for further details. Best regards, Cynthia Astle

  3. Morgan, I know you are writing this for an evangelical audience, and I also know know that you have demonstrated a deep regard for your encounters in the Catholic Church. I would encourage you to look at some of the Catholic thinking in these areas. I would encourage you to look at Pope Benedict’s Deus Caritas Est as indicative of what is going on in the Catholic world at this time. God Bless!

    • Thank you very much Sam. I will indeed look at Deus Caritas Est. Two of the pope’s favorite theologians, De Lubac and Balthasar, will figure heavily in what I write because they’ve taught me a lot.

  4. Morgan I’m super-excited to hear you’re writing a book. I can’t wait to read it. I like the “This not That” format you’re using to discuss things in a theopolitcal context.

    I wish you had a chapter entitled “Faith not Determination”. It seems in our individualistic society we take the “Faith without works is dead” verse and apply it to justify our pursuit of things (jobs, money, status). There’s a premium placed on the material but no premium is employed on the unseen (hope, love, communion with God). An athiest can have determination and drive to pursue the material things that they have yet to come to fruition but what seperates Christian faith from secular hope? This Christian culture begs for a better definition of faith. That verse alone should compel us to live fruitful lives as Christians not drunken pursuit of “things”.

    • Nice. I think I’m going to go into that with “Gift not Reward” about the way that people have the mentality that they’ve got something to prove and earn in life rather than living out of gratitude for the gift they just need to accept from God.

        • I have no idea. But God said to me last night that I need to ditch the blogging for a while and face the Goliath I’ve been hiding from.

  5. If I were writing your book on the topic you have chosen I would look long and hard at Matthew 5 :17-48 concentration on “You have heard”. Christ did not use the term “It is written”. That is significant and related.

  6. Well, I’d probably be interested in most of those, but you should probably pick 12-14.
    Authors that will be helpful in various areas:
    1. N.T. Wright, of course. Especially Surprised By Hope.
    2. Brian Zahnd’s Beauty Will Save the World.
    3. A Community Called Atonement – Scot McKnight
    God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom by Graham Cole

    I’ll be back with more later.

    • 1-3 I’ve already got. The Cole book sounds important. I’ll look into it. I guess I’m going to have to start trekking to the seminary library in DC because Amazon is breaking my bank.

  7. I think its a good list, if you’re seeking others then I offer Humility not Righteousness – How do we model the gospel? or Community (or Discipleship) not Membership – What makes us a church? May God Bless your endeavor! I look forward to your publication!

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