Books

Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ

by J. Todd Billings

At the age of 39, Christian theologian Todd Billings was diagnosed with a rare form of incurable cancer. In the wake of that diagnosis, he began grappling with the hard theological questions we face in the midst of crisis: Why me? Why now? Where is God in all of this? This eloquently written book shares Billings’s journey, struggle, and reflections on providence, lament, and life in Christ in light of his illness, moving beyond pat answers toward hope in God’s promises. This hope is expressed in prayers and actions of lament and thanksgiving, compassionate protest against injustice, and a joyful entry into life amid loss.

Theologically robust yet eminently practical, Rejoicing in Lament engages the open questions, areas of mystery, and times of disorientation in the Christian life. Billings offers concrete examples through autobiography, cultural commentary, and stories from others, showing how our human stories of joy and grief can be incorporated into the larger biblical story of God’s saving work in Christ. Students in systematic and pastoral theology courses, pastors, counselors, caretakers, and anyone seeking a theologically informed reflection on suffering will appreciate Rejoicing in Lament.

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Calvin’s Theology and Its Reception

Disputes, Developments, and New Possibilities

by J. Todd Billings

J. Todd Billings and I. John Hesselink have compiled an essential collection of essays for the study of John Calvin’s theology. Leading Calvin scholars examine the early and late reception-history of Calvin’s fundamental teachings, including reflections on the contemporary possibilities and limitations in developing Calvin’s thought.

Union with Christ

Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church

by J. Todd Billings

Christianity Today 2012 Book Award Winner
Named a 2011 Book of the Year, Christianbook.com’s Academic Blog
Accomplished theologian J. Todd Billings recovers the biblical theme of union with Christ for today’s church, making a fresh contribution to the theological discussion with important applications for theology and ministry. Drawing on Scripture and the thought of figures such as Augustine, Calvin, Bavinck, and Barth, Billings shows how a theology of union with Christ can change the way believers approach worship, justice, mission, and the Christian life. He illuminates how union with Christ can change the theological conversation about thorny topics such as total depravity and the mystery of God. Billings also provides a critique and alternative to the widely accepted paradigm of incarnational ministry and explores a gospel-centered approach to social justice. Throughout, he offers a unique and lively exploration of what is so amazing about being united to the living Christ.

The Word of God for the People of God

An Entryway to the Theological Interpretation of Scriptureby J. Todd Billings

by J. Todd Billings

This book fills a real need for pastors and students. Though there is currently a large body of material on the theological interpretation of Scripture, most of it is highly specific and extremely technical. J. Todd Billings here provides a straightforward entryway for students and pastors to understand whytheological interpretation matters and how it can be done.

A solid, constructive theological work, The Word of God for the People of God presents a distinctive Trinitarian, participatory approach toward reading Scripture as the church. Billings’s accessible yet substantial argument for a theological hermeneutic is rooted in a historic vision of the practice of scriptural interpretation even as it engages a wide range of contemporary issues and includes several exegetical examples that apply to concrete Christian ministry situations.

Calvin, Participation, and the Gift

The Activity of Believers in Union with Christ

by J. Todd Billings

Winner of 2009 John Templeton Award for Theological Promise.

Is the God of Calvin a fountain of blessing, or a forceful tyrant? Is Calvin’s view of God coercive, leaving no place for the human qua human in redemption? These are perennial questions about Calvin’s theology which have been given new life by Gift theologians such as John Milbank, Graham Ward, and Stephen Webb.

J. Todd Billings addresses these questions by exploring Calvin’s theology of “participation in Christ.” He argues that Calvin’s theology of “participation” gives a positive place to the human, such that grace fulfills rather than destroys nature, affirming a differentiated union of God and humanity in creation and redemption. Calvin’s trinitarian theology extends to his view of prayer, sacraments, the law, and the ecclesial and civil orders. In light of Calvin’s doctrine of participation, Billings reframes the critiques of Calvin in the Gift discussion and opens up new possibilities for contemporary theology, ecumenical theology, and Calvin scholarship as well.