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Transforming Fire
Imagining Christian Teaching
PAPERBACK; Coming Soon: 1/28/2021
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7903-5
Price: $ 19.99
172 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 5.5 x 8.5
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Series: Theological Education between the Times

“We don’t need books about teaching so much as books that teach.” 

Considering Jesus himself taught in a variety of ways—parable, discussion, miracle performance, ritual observance—it seems that there can be no single, definitive, Christian method of teaching. How then should Christian teaching happen, especially in this time of significant change to theological education as an institution? 

Mark Jordan addresses this question by first allowing various depictions and instances of Christian teaching from literature to speak for themselves before meditating on what these illustrative examples might mean for Christian pedagogy. Each textual scene he shares is juxtaposed with a contrasting scene to capture the pluralistic possibilities in the art of teaching a faith that is so often rooted in paradox. He exemplifies forms of teaching that operate beyond the boundaries of scholarly books and discursive lectures to disrupt the normative Western academic approach of treating theology as a body of knowledge to be transmitted merely through language. 

Transforming Fire consults writers ranging from Gregory of Nyssa to C. S. Lewis, and from John Bunyan to Octavia Butler, cutting across historical distance and boundaries of identity. Rather than offering solutions or systems, Jordan seeks in these texts new shelters for theological education where powerful teaching can happen and—even as traditional institutions shrink or vanish—the hearts of students can catch fire once again.

Table of Contents

A Little Advice
1. Christian Traditions and Shapes of Teaching
2. Recognizing Scenes of Instruction
Part One: Bodies
3. Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Macrina
4. Marcella Althaus-Reid, Indecent Theology
5. Classrooms
Part Two: Sciences
6. Bonaventure, The Mind’s Path into God
7. Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be
8. Theology and the Limits of Knowing(ness)
Part Three: Moving Pictures
9. Teresa of Ávila, The Interior Castle
10. John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
11. The Use and Abuse of Imagination
Part Four: Children
12. C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
13. Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
14. Education and Resistance
Part Five: Barriers
15. Johannes Climacus (with the Assistance of Søren Kierkegaard), Philosophical Crumbs
16. Simone Weil, Letters and Essays
17. Locked Gates
Conclusion: Finding or Making Shelter
Suggestions for Further Reading

Praise for the TEBT series:

“At once visionary and realistic, the books in this series offer fresh, short, and very different answers to the question, ‘What is theological education for?’ Studies of that question have appeared every couple of decades and seem to assume that ‘one-size-fits-all’ answers are possible. What’s new and groundbreaking here is that a group of theological educators from a broad array of very different religious traditions address the question in conversation with one another and in light of the changing place of faith communities in contemporary culture.”
— David H. Kelsey
Yale Divinity School
“The authors of this series invite us into an exercise of the imagination—to let loose of the theological school models we know so well and instead craft ways that we teach and learn as if we are living in the new Jerusalem. This is daring work. Will we have the will to grasp it? I encourage you to read and see.”
— Emilie M. Townes
Vanderbilt University Divinity School
“I would be hard-pressed to name any other resource that even approaches this series in its visionary outlook and wide perspective on the challenges and opportunities currently facing theological education. The authors represent an unparalleled selection of leaders in theological education whose views and experiences point to different paths into the future, all leading to true excellence and relevance in theological education.”
— Justo L. González
author of The History of Theological Education
“At a time of massive changes in churches and theological schools, as well as in society generally, the twelve-book series Theological Education between the Times presents an indispensable resource. Many people, especially younger generations, question as never before the necessity of religious practice or even belonging to a congregation. In this new context, the repercussions for theological education are many: What adjustments must leaders make to maintain support? How can faculty modify programs to meet the demands of modern times? What message will attract prospective students? Astute theological educators from diverse backgrounds prayed together and engaged in conversations that contributed to the authorship of this lucid and compelling series intended for anyone concerned about the fate of religion in society.”
— Katarina Schuth, OSF
Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity