A Living Alternative

What does faith look like in a world where Christianity no longer dominates economy, policy, and morality? Why are mainline Christian structures so intimidated by this inevitability? And how can the church learn from those radical-reformers of the past as we venture into this unforeseen post-Christendom world?

In “A Living Alternative: Anabaptist Christianity in a Post-Christendom World,” these questions and more are put to the test by some of the brightest new voices in the emerging Anabaptist tradition. “A Living Alternative” is an exceptional anthology that provides its readers a range of viewpoints using modern Anabaptist lenses. Offering alternative viewpoints to the dominant strains of Christianity that have narrowed and diminished important aspects of the Reign of God, “A Living Alternative” reshapes the landscape of the conversation and provides a way forward.

Taking these critical issues into conversation with the past and present, readers will experience all the distinctive elements of the “Third Way” tradition including non-violence, Kingdom citizenship, and a Jesus-centered approach to a holistic faith practice. “A Living Alternative” also includes chapter study guides to foster creative new insights for individuals and communities alike, as we all prepare a faith for the future.

Authors AO GreenBenjamin L. CoreyBrian GummChris Lenshyn,Chris NickelsChristopher GortonDeborah-Ruth FerberDonald R. ClymerDrew HartHannah HeinzekehrJamie Arpin-RicciJoanna HaraderJustin HiebertMicael GrenholmRobert Anthony MartinRyan RobinsonSam WilcockSteve KimesTyler M. TullyWilliam Loewen

Foreword: Stuart Murray, author of The Naked Anabaptist

Editors: Joanna Harader and AO Green

Release Date: Published December 6th, 2014

From the foreword: The challenges and opportunities of post-Christendom will require us to draw on the rich resources of many Christian traditions. Anabaptism may be an alternative to the Catholic and Protestant version of Christianity that have been dominant for many centuries but are now struggling to adapt to a world they can no longer control. On many topics it offers a ‘third way’ that many are finding refreshing and provocative. But, as the essays in this book make clear, what is even more urgently needed are alternatives to the military-consumerist culture that dominates, dehumanises and destroys so many across the globe. We need to search out authentic ways of living alternatively as well as thinking alternatively. And we will need the insights and experiences of our brothers and sisters from many other traditions as we offer the best insights of our own, albeit for many of us adopted, Anabaptist tradition. My hope for this book is that it will enable all of us to continue the conversation as we journey on together.

Stuart Murray

Author of The Naked Anabaptist

Endorsements

What a rich collaborative offering! A Living Alternative draws from diverse perspectives to sing a thoughtful and inspiring chorus on the ways in which peacemakers can follow Jesus’ counter-cultural mission as we seek to understand, engage and transform our world. Including both theological foundations and strategic action steps, this book is an excellent resource for all who wish to interact with our complex, multicultural, and post-Christian world out of hope, rather than fear.

Christena Cleveland

author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart and associate professor of reconciliation studies at Bethel University in Saint Paul, MN

The world is poised to receive the wisdom of the Anabaptists.  We are fat with consumerism.  We are tired of war.  We are hungry for community.  We need an excuse to slow down, turn off the noise, and simplify our lives again.  For many of us, progress has also meant digress.  This chorus of wise voices will stir you to imagine what it means to be the peculiar people of God in the 21st century.

Shane Claiborne

author and activist

Thank you, God, I’m not like those Christendom Christians” is the kind of prayer Neo-Anabaptism needs saving from. Likewise, the hubris of contemporary attempts to found the church of “This Time We Got It Right,” is a particularly poor fit for the beauty of the Peace Church tradition. Yet if Anabaptism can be recovered as a confession of our complicity- in Pharaoh’s economics of exploitation, Solomon’s religion of empire-imitation or Caesar’s politics of privilege and power- it may be one of the most fruitful conversation partners for future of faithfulness. In these pages, a conversation towards confession wonderfully begins. Lord, have mercy.

Jarrod McKenna

Australian Peace Award winning Activist, Pastor and Co-Founder of First Home Project

In a day where the church continues to be pushed to the margins in a pluralistic reality, too many Christians/Churches/Movements are desperately trying to hang on to some place at the centre of a culture they hope will return. Instead, we need bold followers of Christ to teach us what it looks like to join Christ on mission at the margin. A Living Alternative is a collection of voices doing just that.

Cameron Roxburgh

National Director of Forge Canada

Even thought I’m not an Anabaptist by chosen label or tradition, I found so much richness and truth in this book.  Deep, challenging, prophetic, and conversation starting, I loved A Living Alternative. If you’ve ever wondered what your life would look like if you really lived like Jesus, this book will give you an accessible theological foundation for the practical living out of your discipleship particularly in a post-Christian context.

Sarah Bessey

Author of Jesus Feminist

People are starving due to a diet heavy on nationalism, violence, greed and consumerism for a taste of something more nourishing: the Kingdom of God. Many Christians all over the globe, and dare I say especially in the shadows of Americanized civil religion, are discovering a new subversive way forward: Anabaptism. This radical reform movement isn’t actually new at all, having emerged in the 1500s as a “third way” out of the former postures of both the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. But today, Anabaptism offers resources for many of us in a post-Christendom reality, to live out the costly teachings of Jesus and the Apostles like the early church did—under the noses of imperialist ideologues.

In A Living Alternative we get insider wisdom from several of my friends from diverse backgrounds and perspectives—all of whom have been captured by a vision of life in God’s kingdom that subverts status quo approaches to faith. This book provocatively challenges us to see this cultural moment in the West as an invitation to return to the grassroots nature of the Jesus movements of the first century. The authors demonstrate how several values from Anabaptism can help guide the broader Church forward in the twenty-first century. I hope many Christians, especially those outside of traditional Anabaptist structures, will read this book and heed its call to alternative ways of living as the people of God. I highly recommend this excellent resource for anyone desiring to look and live more like Jesus, something our neighborhoods, cities, and world so desperately need.

Kurt Willems

Kurt Willems, Pastor of Pangea Community and author at KurtWillems.com

A Living Alternative is a delightfully wide-ranging collection of essays that sparks the imagination with the hope of Christian faithfulness in a Post-Christian age.  Drawing upon the compelling stories of the 16th century Anabaptists, these authors call us to a renewed and deeper faith. Readers will not find easy solutions here, rather wisdom to guide us as we follow in the narrow and treacherous way of our Anabaptist forebears.

C. Christopher Smith

Editor of The Englewood Review of Books and co-author of Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus

Over the last several decades, individuals and groups around the globe have been captivated by the vision of the humble, self-sacrificial kingdom movement that Jesus inaugurated with his life, death and resurrection, and they are noticing how radically it contrasts with the now-dying religion of Christendom.  This has led many of us to the conviction that we are on the cusp of a new reformation, one that will likely forever change the face of what people identify as “the Christian faith.” This is what makes A Living Alternative such an important and timely book!  In this splendid collection of essays readers will find a wonderfully diverse group of people wrestling with an amazingly diverse set of issues surrounding what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus in a post-Christendom world.  Perhaps even more importantly, in each of these essays readers will sense the refreshing vibrancy and beauty of the kingdom vision that has captured the imaginations of these authors, and this can’t help but pull readers further into this vision. So, whether you already identify with this kingdom movement or don’t yet know what I’m even talking about,  I’d like to challenge you to thoroughly digest this book!

Greg Boyd

Senior Pastor, Woodland Hills Church; President of ReKnew Ministries (reknew.org); author and co-author of 20 books, including The Myth of a Christian Nation, Letters From a Skeptic, and Is God to Blame?

The power of the Anabaptist approach to Christianity lies in its resolute insistence on combining belief and action, faith and practice, doctrine and ethics. A Living Alternative demonstrates that this approach is more relevant than ever in our fragmented world. These lively essays, mostly by younger writers, make a compelling case for engaged Christianity—confrontive, compassionate, peaceable, edgy, most of all seeking to embody the way of Jesus.

Ted Grimsrud

Ted Grimsrud, Professor of Theology and Ethics, Eastern Mennonite University

As the church struggles to find its way thru the cultures of post-Christian America, some fresh voices arise, both prophetic and pastoral, to speak clarity and truth to our situation. With a keen sense of history, and acumen for culture, they offer us A Living Alternative to the dilemmas we find ourselves in. The time is right for these new Anabaptists. We ignore them at our own peril. They are a force for renewal in our time.

David Fitch

David Fitch, BR Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology, Author: Prodigal Christianity

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