Life in the twenty-first century presents a disturbing reality. Otherness, the simple fact of being different in some way, has come to be defined as in and of itself evil. Miroslav Volf contends that if the healing word of the gospel is to be heard today, Christian theology must find ways of speaking that address the hatred of the other. Is there any hope of embracing our enemies? Of opening the door to reconciliation? Reaching back to the New Testament metaphor of salvation as reconciliation, Volf proposes the idea of embrace as a theological response to the problem of exclusion.

Increasingly we see that exclusion has become the primary sin, skewing our perceptions of reality and causing us to react out of fear and anger to all those who are not within our (ever-narrowing) circle. In light of this, Christians must learn that salvation comes, not only as we are reconciled to God, and not only as we "learn to live with one another," but as we take the dangerous and costly step of opening ourselves to the other, of enfolding him or her in the same embrace with which we have been enfolded by God.

Volf won the 2002 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for the first edition of his book, Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (Abingdon, 1996). In that first edition, professor Volf, a Croatian by birth, analyzed the civil war and “ethnic cleansing” in the former Yugoslavia, and he readily found other examples of cultural, ethnic, and racial conflict to illustrate his points. Since September 11, 2001, and the subsequent epidemic of terror and massive refugee suffering throughout the world, Volf revised Exclusion and Embrace to account for the evolving dynamics of inter-ethnic and international strife.
We are at our human best when we give and forgive.But we live in a world in which it makes little sense to do either one. In our increasingly graceless culture, where can we find the motivation to give? And how do we learn to forgive when forgiving seems counterintuitive or even futile? A deeply personal yet profoundly thoughtful book, Free of Charge explores these questions¬ – and the further questions to which they give rise – in light of God’s generosity and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Miroslav Volf draws from popular culture as well as from a wealth of literary and theological sources, weaving his rich reflections around the sturdy frame of Paul’s vision of God’s grace and Martin Luther’s interpretation of that vision. Blending the best of theology and spirituality, he encourages us to echo in our own lives God’s generous giving and forgiving. A fresh examination of two practices at the heart of the Christian faith¬ – giving and forgiving¬ – the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lenten study book for 2006 is at the same time an introduction to Christianity. Even more, it is a compelling invitation to Christian faith as a way of life.“Miroslav Volf, one of the most celebrated theologians of our day, offers us a unique interweaving of intense reflection, vivid and painfully personal stories and sheer celebration of the giving God ... I cannot remember having read a better account of what it means to say that Jesus suffered for us in our place.”– Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
Over the last three decades a major cultural shift has taken place in the attitudes of Western societies toward the future. Modernitybs eclipse by postmodernity is characterized in large part by the loss of hope for a future substantially better than the present. Old optimism about human progress has given way to uncertainty and fear. In this book scholars from various disciplines -- theology, the social sciences, and the humanities -- explore the move from a bculture of optimismb to a bculture of ambiguity, b and they seek to infuse todaybs jaded language of hope with a new vitality.

"The Future of Hope" offers a powerful critique of todaybs stifling cultural climate and shows why the vision of hope central to Christian faith must be a basic component of any flourishing society. The first section of the book sets the context with telling cultural criticism of modernity. The second section focuses on affinities between premodern Christian visions of hope and twentieth-century thought. The final section of the book examines the relationship between postmodern thought, Christian tradition, and biblical hope, addressing how Christians in a postmodern world can best articulate their faith.

Written by truly profound thinkers, these chapters are diverse in their content, methodologies, and temperament, yet they are united by a deep engagement with both the Christian tradition and the larger cultural and intellectual climate in which we live and work. "The Future of Hope" can thus be read not just as an attempt at retrieval of hope for today but as itself one small act of hope in an age when people too seldom take time to think critically and hopefully.

Contributors: DavidBillings
Robert Paul Doede
Kevin L. Hughes
Paul Edward Hughes
Daniel Johnson
William Katerberg
John Milbank
Jurgen Moltmann
James K. A. Smith
Miroslav Volf
Nicholas Wolterstorff

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