The CSBV is delighted to announce that during Lent this year we will again host Book Club sessions via Zoom, with authors and respondents of the books below. Recordings will be made available following the event. Brief descriptions of the books are provided below; please go to their event pages to access more detail. You do not need to have read the book to attend – all are welcome!

Tickets: £3 donation
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If the fee restricts your ability to attend, please select a no donation ticket.

Tue 20 Feb. Christianity and Critical Race Theory

With authors: Robert Chao Romero and Jeff M. Liou. Respondent: Sara Améstegui Deik

Critical race theory has become a lightning rod in contemporary American politics and evangelical Christianity. This irenic book offers a critical but constructive and sympathetic introduction written from a perspective rooted in Scripture and Christian theology. The authors take us beyond caricatures and misinformation to consider how critical race theory can be an analytical tool to help us understand persistent inequality and injustice-and to see how Christians and churches working for racial justice can engage it in faithful and constructive ways.

The authors explore aspects of critical race theory that resonate with well-trod Christian doctrine but also that challenge or are corrected by Christian theology. They also address the controversial connection that critics see between critical race theory and Marxism. Their aim is to offer objective analysis and critique that go beyond the debates about social identity and the culture wars and aid those who are engaging the issues in Christian life and ministry. The book includes a helpful glossary of key terms.

Tue 27 Feb. Blessed are the Peacemakers: A Biblical Theology of Human Violence

With author: Helen Paynter. Respondent: Matthew Lynch

This volume in Biblical Theology for Life series dives deeply into the topic of human violence. Before exploring what the Bible says about violence, Old Testament scholar Helen Paynter sets out the contours for the study ahead by addressing the various definitions of violence and the theories of its origins, prevalence, and purpose. What is violence? Is there such a thing as “natural violence”? Is violence a human or social construct or can we describe natural phenomena as violent? How does the concept of violence relate to the concept of evil? Violence is everywhere; is it escapable? How do we resist violence?

The book concludes by discussing of what this means for Christians today. For many of us who live without routine encounters with or threats of violence, we must consider our responsibility in a world where our experience is the exception. With attention to the multi-headed hydra that is violence and the concealed structures of violence in our own Western society, Paynter challenges readers to consider their own, perhaps inherited, privilege and complicity. The question of how we regard “others,” both as individuals and as societies, is a deeply relevant and urgent one for the church: The church can and should be a wholly non-othering body. So what implications does this have for the church and, for example, Black Lives Matter or the rampant xenophobia in our society or immigration and global migration issues? How do we resist evil? What does it mean to turn the other cheek when the cheek that has been slapped is not our own? How do we resist the monster without becoming the monster?

Wed 6 March. Forbidden Fruit and Fig Leaves: Reading the Bible with the Shamed

With author: Judith Rossall. Respondent: Joel Osborne

Christian theology has concentrated too much on issues around guilt and the needs of the perpetrator of sin, but ignored the strong biblical theme of shame and the needs of the sinned-against. This book seeks to address this lack of serious engagement with shame in scripture.

Tracing the story of shame through the biblical story of creation, exodus and exile the author shows how key narratives in the Hebrew scriptures, such as those of David and Job can be read as offering commentary on shaming abuse of privilege and power.

Ultimately, the book argues, the culmination of scripture is with the ultimate shaming moment – that of God, on the cross. Provocative and timely, the book demonstrates a crucial lens through which to understand scripture, and is a vital resource for preachers and biblical scholars alike.

Tue 12 March. The Ballot and the Bible: How Scripture has been used and abused in American Politics

With author: Kaitlyn Schiess. Respondent: Michael Spalione

Christianity Today 2024 Book Award Finalist (Politics and Public Life)

How do Bible passages written thousands of years ago apply to politics today? What can we learn from America’s history of using the Bible in politics? How can we converse with people whose views differ from our own?

In The Ballot and the Bible, Kaitlyn Schiess explores these questions and more. She unpacks examples of how Americans have connected the Bible to politics in the past, highlighting times it was applied well and times it was egregiously misused. Schiess combines American political history and biblical interpretation to help readers faithfully read Scripture, talk with others about it, and apply it to contemporary political issues–and to their lives. Rather than prescribing what readers should think about specific hot-button issues, Schiess outlines core biblical themes around power, allegiance, national identity, and more.

Readers will be encouraged to pursue a biblical basis for their political engagement with compassion and confidence.