To the early Christians, hospitality was central to the gospel mission. This hospitality did not consist of entertaining neighbors, but welcoming the stranger, especially those who could not return the favor. Yet despite urgent need, hospitality has fallen by the wayside.
Christine Pohl’s classic work, Making Room, first spoke to this issue in 1999. And it is just as relevant today, with the refugee crisis, the rise in homelessness, and growing loneliness and isolation. This revitalized edition, with a new foreword and afterword by the author, introduces the theology of hospitality to a new generation. Pohl combines rich biblical and historical research with experience in contemporary Christian communities, including the Catholic Worker, L’Abri, Good Works, Inc., and others.
Pragmatic and thoughtful, Pohl deals frankly with both the blessings and the boundaries of hospitality. Readers will find a wealth of wisdom to revive authentic hospitality in their ministry.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition Preface I. Remembering Our Heritage 1. Introduction: A New Look at an Old Tradition 2. Ancient and Biblical Sources 3. A Short History of Christian Hospitality II. Reconsidering the Tradition 4. Hospitality, Dignity, and the Power of Recognition 5. The Stranger in Our Midst 6. Hospitality from the Margins III. Recovering the Practice 7. The Fragility of Hospitality: Limits, Boundaries, Temptations 8. Making a Place for Hospitality 9. The Spiritual Rhythms of Hospitality Afterword Appendix: Communities of Hospitality Select Bibliography Index
Christine D. Pohl (1950–2023) was professor emerita of Christian ethics at Asbury Theological Seminary. She authored numerous articles and books, most notably Living into Community: Cultivating Practices That Sustain Us and (with Keith Wasserman) Good Works: Hospitality and Faithful Discipleship.
“When I first picked up Making Room, I imagined I would be reading about inviting people over for dinner or making sure your son's girlfriend feels welcome when she comes to visit. But Christine Pohl is concerned with the poor. I may envision potlucks when I think of hospitality, but Pohl means welcoming strangers. . . . Pohl demonstrates that hospitality is obligatory, ‘basic to who we are as followers of Jesus.’ . . . Casual readers beware: Making Room is guaranteed to challenge even the most complacent Christian. You are not likely to walk away from this book unchanged.” —Lauren Winner, in Books & Culture
“In Making Room, Pohl explains the biblical mandate for hospitality, distinguishes it from ‘entertaining friends,’ traces how the practice has been understood throughout church history, and helps us reflect on how hospitality can be restored to its rightful place in our lives, individually and corporately, as the people of God. And if there ever was a time when opening our homes and lives to strangers was absolutely essential, it is now, in our deeply broken and fragmented age.” —Dennis Haack, in Critique, A Newsletter for Thoughtful Evangelicals
“Pohl is particularly effective in identifying the paradoxes, ambiguities and tensions associated with hospitality. Central to its New Testament roots is the intermingling of guest and host roles in the person of Christ. Jesus welcomes the marginalized into his presence, offending those who thought themselves to be more important. At the same time, he experienced the vulnerability of the marginal—as a refugee, an itinerant, convict. And so, for Christians, ‘We offer hospitality within the context of knowing Jesus as both our great host and our potential guest.’ Jesus extended the definition of who is the stranger, widened the dimensions and intensified the implications of hospitality.” —Hillary Russell, in The Expository Times
“In a time in which many scholarly works are both hastily written and of dubious significance, Christine Pohl’s fine work on hospitality is quite the opposite on both counts. It will stand as the benchmark work on this subject for a long time to come. This is a work in ethical archaeology. Pohl digs through the centuries’ layers and discovers hospitality as a way of living out the Gospel that was once central to Christian experience but for several centuries has been marginalized. She argues convincingly that the church needs to recover the practice of hospitality, not only because it meets the needs of the poor but also for the church’s own sake.” —David P. Gushee in The Asbury Theological Journal
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