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The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier [Hardcover]

By Tony Jones (Author)
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Item Number 85165  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.01" Width: 6.5" Height: 1.25"
Weight:   1.03 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2008
Publisher   John Wiley And Sons
ISBN  0787994715  
EAN  9780787994716  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Explores the beliefs, practices, and faith of emergent Christians around the country, discussing the origins, theology, interpretation of Scripture, and sense of community promoted by the emerging church movement.

Publishers Description
What the "Emergent Church Movement" is all about-and why it matters to the future of Christianity

Following on the questions raised by Brian McLaren in A New Kind of Christian, Tony Jones has written an engaging exploration of what this new kind of Christianity looks like. Writing "dispatches" about the thinking and practices of adventurous Emergent Christians across the country, he offers an in-depth view of this new "third way" of faith-its origins, its theology, and its views of truth, scripture and interpretation, and the Emergent movement’s hopeful and life-giving sense of community. With the depth of theological expertise and broad perspective he has gained as a pastor, writer, and leader of the movement, Jones initiates readers into the Emergent conversation and offers a new way forward for Christians in a post-Christian world. With journalistic narrative as well as authoritative reflection, he draws upon on-site research to provide fascinating examples and firsthand stories of who is doing what, where, and why it matters.

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More About Tony Jones

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Tony Jones is the author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier, and the theologian-in-residence at Solomon's Porch in Minnesota. He is the author of many books, including The Sacred Way, and is a sought-after speaker in the areas of emerging church, postmodernism, and Christian spirituality. Tony lives in Minnesota.

Tony Jones has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Living Theology
  2. Youth Specialties S

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Church Institutions & Organizations   [1650  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity   [1828  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Solid, thoughtful, engaging.   Feb 22, 2008
TNC is a really good book, and a huge contribution to the conversation about the new ways of doing church and the new ways of being Christian that are all around us, as well as an insightful look at the impending collapse of liberal vs. conservative polarities in politics, religion, and society in general. Part sociological study, part theological exploration, part peripatetic travelogue, part exegetical exploration, part personal observation, and part fresh hermeneutical method, it is one of the best books I've read in years. In particular, it provides a wonderfully helpful history of the group of thinking practitioners now known as 'emergent village', and will no doubt give great confidence to those who are beginning to explore fresh methods, philosophies, and theologies of living in the way of Jesus.

Among many other highlights, Tony brings to light Sheryl Fullerton's brilliant insight that such expressions of Christianity are 'feral', as those freed from the strictures of conventionality explore new ways of being followers of Jesus in our ever-changing world. And, to prove the point, Tony offers several insightful looks at individuals and groups who are embodying these ideas.

One of my favorite features of the book is one that I'm afraid might be detrimental to its reception: it is wonderfully blustery. Tony writes with a friendly swagger that is not unlike another favorite author of mine, Tony Bourdain. Interestingly, it is an opinionatedness that is-- quite paradoxically-- borne out of a profound sense of humility. When one is sure that one cannot be too certain, that one is too limited in wisdom and intelligence to be right about everything, one finds a new freedom to pursue understanding of a few things, and a willingness to be appended and corrected. Tony does this, and does it well, but I'm afraid some of those who are unfavorably disposed toward this project won't see the nuance.

Too, I wish it included a little gem that I found buried in a random podcast recently: in the early days of this generative friendship now called emergent village, Tony was a lonely voice for renewal of the larger church. Where most of these upstart entrepreneurs were pronouncing the death of the mainstream church and advocating pioneering efforts of church planting, Tony was arguing for patience and reinvestment in the larger structures-- he thought the giant ocean liner could be steered in a different direction. All of which sheds a world of light onto Tony's current impatience with conventional expressions of church, and which fact would endear him to many mainliners who find resonance with this idea of renewal, and who seem to be generally frustrated with Tony's cynicism.
fantastic book  Feb 22, 2008
first, here's my "official" endorsement of the book (found on the back cover):

I devoured this book! Like A New Kind of Christian gave words to the experiences and thoughts of so many, early in this decade, The New Christians provides language, theology and a nudge toward a path out of our bi-polar morass of left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, mainline vs. evangelical. It cuts sideways across all the rhetoric, entrenchment and warfare-positioning of modern-day Christianity. I'm confident Tony's book will provide definition for many, helpful disequilibration for others, and - best of all - new hope for those who cannot (or refuse to) continue trudging numbly along the cattle paths of the American church.

now, a bit more...

if you're a follower of jesus and part of the emerging church, this book will offer you history and definitions and language and clarity and (i realize this sounds grandiose, but i mean it) courage.

if you're a follower of jesus and not part of the emerging church (or suspicious of the emerging church), this book will help you understand, will de-fang the emerging church (for those who are willing to consider what tony suggests, and don't just read in order to bolster their predetermined hatred), and will help you see that we're not all heretics (any more than you are).

if you're a used-to-be christian, intrigued and spiritual but suspicious of christians, or not-sure-you-can-keep-up-this-charade christian, this book will bring hope: there is a way that rings true to your soul without buying into the crap baggage of traditional liberal/conservative battle-camps.

and, finally, if you're looking to find more to build your case about this horrible thing called the emerging church, "the coming apostasy" (as a friend of mine so ludicrously published recently), "the end of christendom", "the last generation of christians", "not christianity by any definition i know": well, you'll surely find plenty here to make you feel good about yourself and your silly self-confidence (as exemplified in a review a two or three prior to this one, by a group that expends all their energy calling people heretics).
History & perspective  Feb 22, 2008
This has been a fun, challenging, insightful read for me. As one who's been reading and thinking and messing people up with "emergent" dialog, Tony Jones' The New Christians (copyright 2008, Jossey-Bass Publishers) gets into the nitty gritty history and thoughts behind the movement in a way that's accessible and personal.

I found "the emergent church" folks about ten years ago, reading some of their forebears and thinking new thoughts that scared me, to be frank. I attended a couple of seminars, traveled to Maryland for one of the Off The Map conferences, and read through alot of books. I put this new work right up there with the most meaningful of my library - good for anyone looking for someone "on the same page as me", and detrimental for anyone wanting to just keep the status quo religiously.

It's into this mess of paradox, oxymorons and mystery that Jones and others have sought to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling".

What I like about Jones' prose is that he doesn't water anything down. There are problems on both sides, there are misunderstandings all over, and there's a need for forgiveness and mercy and grace from each corner. He does this with the historical potions of the story, and then does much the same with the theological discussion of truth, the Bible, interpretation, missiology. There's a flow that's working for me, like a primer on what I've been reading from my own vantage point that's developed over the same passage of years.
Not only a good book about the emerging church phenomenon, but a sensational book about one Christian's story  Feb 22, 2008
Contemptuous initial reaction. That captures Western churchianity's reaction, in great part, to the emerging church phenomenon.

And a face of that change, what many websites and right-minded folk consider a veritable Imperial Potentate of new, a person your church elders warned you about is......Tony Jones.

Tony Jones - a person with the second most frequently used surname. Tony is that guy in the minivan next to you. He grew up in a good, normal mainline tradition - he was your kid's youth pastor. He volunteers as a police chaplain. He reads good night stories to his kids, he adores his wife. He went to colleges and seminaries that are the bastions of not new.

The white guy from Minnesota (insert hockey joke or FARGO reference here) with a Howdy Doody face is the face of new, the guy who church elders and countless websites warn you to stay away from.

Now that is funny.

Tony Jones makes most of his living writing and selling books. For that reason alone, you ought to consider buying his books, so that his kids and wife Take a minute right now and go buy a book of his. We can wait - it's the Internet for crissakes, we got nothing better to do.

His newest book The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier is unlike any he has written before. He writes about his sense of the history of this emerging/emergent phenomenon in the U.S. - if you are hungry for that, buy the book. He writes about the incredible cast of folks that find safety from fear, uncertainty and doom in this phenomenon - if you are hungry for that, buy the book. He writes about theology in a way that is pretty impressive for a fella with a fancy East Coast PhD, as well as a bunch of other -ologies - if you are hungry for that, buy the book.

His newest book is unlike any he has written before in one other way, at least from my POV. This is Tony's story - personal, messy, even disjointed or not fully figured out. This book is small and incomplete, almost like listening to Tony talk...and talk...and talk. Tony think in ways that are really interesting - he also writes in ways that are very personal in this book.

A bit of my own story is in this book as well. A year ago, Tony interviewed me about my experience in seminary. Tony was gracious and loving when he interviewed me about this excruciating time in my life. His writing of this story is also gracious and loving - a bit scary to read in print, but gracious and loving.

Tony writes about the crude manifestations of new, the rapid iterating that accompanies the new, the brave efforts so many people engaged in new must endure in the context of Western churchianity. This is my tribe - holy broken people, new Christians who look for God's spirit moving in their midst, then try as best they can to follow that Spirit. This is my institution - I must confess to an up-to-date membership in Western churchianity , the modern institutional church system which continues to replace Christianity with its own brand of organized religion.

As unlikely, even funny as it may be - Tony is one of many embodiments of the new that is breaking out all around.

Go buy his book The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier, or read for free The New Christians - Chapter One or go see him in person - but even more importantly, take heart in his stories of faith and practice in the face of fear, uncertainty and doom.

Book offers no answers on truth  Feb 21, 2008
A theme of this book could go something this: Emergents say they believe in truth, but they define it as something that is always changing and being refined, can never be grasped, and enfolds all beliefs, except the ones that insist there is only one truth.

The New Christians emphatically tries to convince readers that the "church is dead" (p. 4), at least church as we have known it. Jones uses several analogies to describe present day Christianity, such as it being like the nearly-obsolete pay phones, or a dying old growth forest, or compost (rotting vegetables). He says we can almost hear the "death rattle" of "America's church" (p. 5).

In Jones' efforts to convey to readers that non-emerging Christians do not care about humanity and the earth, he gives a detailed account of a chicken slaughterhouse where chickens are issued an electric shock and then their throats are slit. He says that the typical Christian just doesn't care about the world's abuses, tragedies, and woes, and says that when disaster hits, all they care about is whether "victims had invited Jesus into their hearts" (p. 18). Using extreme examples over and over to prove his points, Jones will leave many unsuspecting readers with the notion that up until now Christians have done almost nothing good for this world. Jones believes that the problems of the world are actually caused (at least in large part) by Christians.

Jones says that the gospel has been dormant throughout most of history, except during specific times when it was able to break through "human institutions." He states:

And although it [the gospel] has been crusted over for eons, it will inevitably find a time and a fissure, an opportunity to blast through that crust and explode, volcano-like into the atmosphere. (p. 36)

Ultimately, what one will come away with from Jones' book is that Jones (and all emergents, he says) believes that truth cannot be pinned down and set in concrete. What is true for today may not be considered truth tomorrow. And he isn't talking just about negotiable societal and cultural ideologies. He is talking about doctrine too. In fact, that is really the point he wants to get across in this book. Emergents love the Bible, he says, but they are not going to be so arrogant "[t]o assume that our convictions about God are somehow timeless" and to think they are "establishes an imperialistic attitude that has a chilling effect on the honest conversation that's needed for theology to progress" (p. 114). This progression of theology that Jones speaks of is not limited to areas of theology that are often and legitimately debated by Christian scholars. No; Jones says even the doctrine of atonement cannot be set in stone. He says it is "arrogant and a bit deceptive" (p. 77) to suggest that there can be any one understanding of atonement. Jones states that to "try to freeze one particular articulation of the gospel, to make it timeless and universally applicable, actually does an injustice to the gospel" (p. 96). He says we must "refigure our theology" (p. 104) and that "emergents" are "looking for a Christianity that's still exploratory" (i.e., theology is flexible - p. 108) and "a gospel that meshes with our own experience of the world" (p. 110). "Theology is not universal, nor is it transcendent" (p. 112), he claims, but it is "temporary" and we "must carry our theologies with an open hand" (p. 114). He adds:

[E]mergents reject metaphors like "pin it down," "in a nutshell," "sum it up," and "boil it down" when speaking of God and God's Kingdom, for it simply can't be done (p. 114).

In the end, Jones leaves his readers with this: "Jesus did not have a 'statement of faith'" (p. 234). In other words, Jesus was just as vague and unsure about what is truth, atonement, righteousness, the gospel, as are the emergents today. But this is a complete and horrible distortion of Jesus Christ, who did indeed have a statement of faith. In fact, everything He said was a statement of true faith, and He spoke as one knowing exactly what truth is: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Matthew 7:29)
And He also stated: "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." (John 16:13)

Jones makes a case for mysticism when he says that "[E]mergents will use all of the means available to them to quest after this truth we call God. Jones say emergents "quest after God using the tools of the medieval mystics and the ancient monastics (i.e., contemplative prayer).... some will even be open to sources of truth that are external to traditional [biblical] Christianity, be it philosophy or another religious system (p. 159)." And it is in these other religious systems that Jones and the New Christians find "truth." He puts it well:

In the aftermath of the myth of objectivity [absolute truth], of fideisims and airtight systems, we're left to embrace our subjectivity, to revel in it, for it's only when we accept our own biases that we allow them to be shaped by contrary opinions and biases. One place where this is most poignant is interreligious dialogue" (p. 155).

For those wanting to learn about or find truth, this book will not be of any help except to show that the emerging church is not the place to find it and can offer no answers.

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