September #BookOfTheMonth: God's People and the Seduction of Empire

Added about 5 years ago by Sacristy Press

Cover imageOur September #BookOfTheMonth is God’s People and the Seduction of Empire, “an accessible, radical and rare example of the vitality and relevance of both the Old and New Testaments”.

As human beings we are continually seduced by the thought of appearing more impressive and successful in the eyes of those around us. This is how the world in which we live dominates and oppresses so many people, venerating the gods of retail, economics and culture.

In God’s People and the Seduction of Empire, Graham Turner confronts many of our comforting assumptions about the story of God’s people. Taking us on a journey through scripture, he draws together familiar texts (and some unpopular passages) to demonstrate that the Old and New Testaments coalesce around two central themes: personal spirituality and social justice.

Following God’s call to Abraham and Jesus’ call to his disciples, we are called to a higher truth—the Kingdom of God—whose equality, peace and love seems foolish to the world, including, sadly, many Christians. It is, however, the path to freedom.

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For those who still live in ‘empire’, a book like this is extremely helpful and important. In fact, without this wisdom and frame, the Bible has often ended up being a tool of oppression instead of a gift for liberation.

—Richard Rohr, Author and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (New Mexico, USA)

This book is a compelling read with useful material for group work. With the world experiencing change and upheavals on an unprecedented scale it is a timely call to attention for Christians both lay and professional. Instead of seeing the decline of church congregations in the developed world as the death throws of Christendom, Turner sees this as just one of the many casualties of empire-building in a social climate where individual identity, personal ambition and self-serving concentration of power hold sway with an ever widening gap between the haves and have-nots. In contrast he selects the biblical concepts of the commandments (Sinai), diversity (Babel), respite from work (Sabbath) and a chance to recover (Jubilee) as being God's way for mankind. He outlines the counter-intuitive values of God's kingdom described by Jesus, where love is power, loss is gain, the suffering can see themselves as blessed, outcasts become insiders and failure can be the springboard to new life. In particular he sees the liminal state where all seems lost as the place where true prophecy will arise. This is sure hope, no matter how confusing and threatening the times may be. By following God's way and working together in the solidarity of fellowship to resist the Seduction of Empire, God's people can find wholeness, freedom and fulfilment, despite the cost in worldly terms. This freedom lies in a space of tension between the secular structures of the civilised world and the values of the Kingdom. All this is presented in a thoroughly readable and thought-provoking narrative.Richard Noble

This is a very powerful book about how church members and congregations should see the bible as a personal, historical, and communal guide to challenging the abuses of empire. I personally feel this book should be taught in seminaries and bible classes everywhere.

—Goodreads reviewer

This is an excellent book, written in a very clear, easy to read style. The book looks at the struggle with Empire from Old Testament to New Testament times and how it has been very easy for people of faith to develop empire attitudes. The book then looks at the current situation with the church and again, how it can be so easily influenced by the empire mindset. Graham's reflections are insightful, honest and passionate. He uses the life and ministry of Jesus to give Christians and the church the example to resist the temptations of empire and live according the to the values of the Kingdom.

—Amazon reviewer

Please note: Sacristy Press does not necessarily share or endorse the views of the guest contributors to this blog.

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