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Resurrection City
A Theology of Improvisation
PAPERBACK; Published: 11/23/2012
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6759-9
219 Pages
Buy the ebook: Kindle | NOOK
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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Series: Prophetic Christianity (PC)

In Resurrection City Peter Heltzel paints a prophetic picture of an evangelical Christianity that eschews a majority mentality and instead fights against racism, inequality, and injustice, embracing the concerns of the poor and marginalized, just as Jesus did. Placing society's needs front and center, Heltzel calls for radical change and collective activism modeled on God's love and justice.

In particular, Heltzel explores the social forms that love and justice can take as religious communities join together to build "beloved cities." He proclaims the importance of "improvising for justice" -- likening the church's prophetic ministry to jazz music -- and develops a biblical theology of shalom justice. His vision draws inspiration from the black freedom struggle and the lives of Sojourner Truth, Howard Thurman, and Martin Luther King Jr. Pulsing with hope and beauty, Resurrection City compels evangelical Christians to begin "a global movement for love and justice" that truly embodies the kingdom of God.

Read a blog post by Heltzel about the book on EerdWord.
2014 Outreach Resources of the Year Justice category
Cornel West
— Union Theological Seminary
"Peter Heltzel is a jazz-infused theologian par excellence! Don't miss this gem of a book."
Shannon Craigo-Snell
— Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
"Jazz musicians can improvise because they are so rooted in musical traditions, because they know the standards so well. This grounding allows for the freedom to create something that is both continuous with the past and open to a new future. Theology, claims Peter Heltzel, should be like improvisational jazz — various traditions coming together in an ongoing continuity that is always new. In Resurrection City Heltzel performs just this kind of theology. Deeply grounded in Scripture, history, music, and the struggle for justice, Heltzel improvises a prophetic Christian theology of hope. Both scholarly and accessible, Resurrection City is a virtuoso performance."
Eldin Villafañe
— Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"This is an informative, provocative, and timely book — a gift to the church as it seeks the shalom of the city."
George E. Lewis
— Columbia University
"Heltzel's extraordinary theology prophetically re-imagines the future of Christianity through improvisation, the lifeblood of creative music around the world, enacting a clarion call to assembly that exhorts us toward a spiritual practice affirming the twinned imperatives of justice and love."
J. Kameron Carter
— Duke University Divinity School
"Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and the notion of 'Resurrection City,' Peter Heltzel, a leading thinker of his generation of American evangelicals, presents here arguably the most cogent theological engagement with race and the American evangelical world available today, even as he locates his engagement within a wider frame — a vision for an evangelicalism of the future. This, Heltzel lyrically argues, will be an evangelicalism that dares to love as God loves. It is a jazz-inflected, musical evangelicalism — an evangelicalism that engages its past, that negotiates the present with improvisational verve (the inspiration here is John Coltrane's sermonic anthem A Love Supreme), and that consequently can receive the future. I heartily recommend this book."
"A highly creative contribution that brings together conversations around missional church, racial and social justice, and postcolonial hermeneutics. As an academic, pastor, community organizer, musician and poet, Heltzel offers a rare book that will inspire Christians to re-envision the church as a community of hope and justice."
Choice (American Library Association)
"This work draws heavily on themes from liberation and black theologies. . . . Heltzel challenges the contemporary church to take up this historic message in the contemporary context and to engage in the struggle for justice and social reform articulated in these prior voices. Recommended."
Books & Culture
"Heltzel offers a new book that inspires hope amid troubled times. . . . It pulsates with both the prophetic rage and redemptive joy that Heltzel finds in the Bible and especially its central figure, the Jewish Jesus. . . . To read Resurrection City is to hear the jazzy theological ruminations of a white man resurrected by the black freedom struggle and the Occupy Movement."