Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation

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It is extraordinarily different. Jan 10, Porter Sprigg rated it it was amazing Shelves: christian , discipleship , theology , want-to-re-read , social-commentary , biblical-analysis , for-school , english-classes. This book is so important. I have wrestled a lot with how to love my "enemy" whether that be the family member I'm angry at or the fellow citizen who is my political opposite.

This book provides a powerful challenge to those who so quickly write off "the other. We must also truly strive to see the justice and truth in their positions, even if from our position it s This book is so important. We must also truly strive to see the justice and truth in their positions, even if from our position it seems like they have absolutely none. This is not easy pie-in-the-sky empathy. It's brutally difficult empathy. But as Christians who look to take up their crosses and obey Jesus, there is no other way. Read this book! The text itself is pretty dense but its message is nothing short of radical.

Jun 22, Lesa rated it really liked it. This was an excellent book. Appreciated the idea that in conflict, forgiveness is not the final end goal; embrace should follow. Jan 28, Joshua Butler rated it it was amazing.

Book Review: Exclusion & Embrace | Emerging Scholars Blog

Volf, personally coming from a context of genocide, is very vulnerable about the dramatic tension in attempting to reconcile himself with both the God who identifies with the suffering, exploited, abused an this book rocks, seriously loved it. Volf, personally coming from a context of genocide, is very vulnerable about the dramatic tension in attempting to reconcile himself with both the God who identifies with the suffering, exploited, abused and victimized and delivers the needy thereby critiquing the powers of victimization and holding them to account and the God who forgives the victimizers, perpetrators, oppressors and calls us not towards revenge or isolated neutrality but towards reconciliation.

God's all-embracing love requires nothing of us for it to be there but everything from us in order to enter it. Volf argues that God's violence is a "violence to end all violence" which is hope for the oppressed and victimized around the world who seek to embrace the oppressor to no avail; Volf lambasts the Western sentimentality which has shirked from affirming the justice of God's violence and claims this was striking to me to truly reclaim a non-violent proactive resistance to oppression and injustice in our world we actually need a stronger reclamation of God's justice, a "more violent" God properly framed as a "violence to end all violence" in the context of his loving pursuit to restore his creation and set the world to rights from the hands of human brutality as the grounding of God being powerful enough to redeem creation from humanity's sin and ground our hope.

View 1 comment. Aug 08, Peter Kerry Powers rated it really liked it. Some years ago my wife, Shannon, occasionally wrote reviews of classic books for a publication for gifted high school students. Although I don't think there is an official genre know as the re-review, I think there probably ought to be. In a day and age when most people fail to read even one book a year, much less a relatively challenging and completely serious and comprehensive work of theology, perhaps we readers ought to take it as part of our role to reintroduce books from decades past to re Some years ago my wife, Shannon, occasionally wrote reviews of classic books for a publication for gifted high school students.

In a day and age when most people fail to read even one book a year, much less a relatively challenging and completely serious and comprehensive work of theology, perhaps we readers ought to take it as part of our role to reintroduce books from decades past to readers for whom they will be new, if not unheard of.

It's in that spirit that I take a few minutes to write out some thoughts on Volf's Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation , a book first published in Still in print and available 22 years later from Abingdon Press , I felt Volf's wrestling with questions of identity and the possibility of embrace spoke to our own period, if only because in the age of Trump we seem to be wrestling more starkly, and perhaps more helplessly, with the questions that drive Volf's reflections.

Can we all just get along, much less embrace, in the face of random police shooting in the name of civil order, family separations in the name of national security, lethal white unity rallies with good people on all sides on all sides, and the general belief that we are so hopelessly separated by our different identities that empathy is beside the point and, in the words of Roxane Gay, we should all just stay in our lanes?

I would like to think a work of theology could solve all this; indeed, Volf indicates that it is the real work of theologians to be about the business of helping to form subjects who could bring about the world of embrace that he imagines.

Exclusion & Embrace

There is a generosity of vision in Volf's book that I find admirable, even compelling. His central concept of embrace is not a campfire Kumbaya version of hugging it out, but a compelling narrative of what it means, or at least ought to mean, to be a fully realized human being.

For Volf, the notion of embrace is inherent in the mutual and overspilling love of the Trinity, as well as the fundamental character of God's engagement with human beings; the incarnation is a metaphysical embrace of humanness, and the cross is an appeal to be embraced in return.

Human beings are only fully realized as human beings when we actually seek to give up our separateness and embrace others as we find them. And so Volf's work is surely a challenge to the good and the just and the true among us. Volf's work asks us to imagine the ideal of embrace not as the coming together of two fundamentally separate individuals "hugging it out" when it comes to their differences, but rather as a complex dance in which we realize that we cannot be what we ought to be until we learn to genuinely love those that we have despised, and even more that we find it in in ourselves to love those who have despised us.

This kind of call sounds strange to our age of tribalism, though perhaps no stranger than any age where we find it easy to love those like us, less easy to love those unlike us, and not possible at all to love those who do not love us. On the other hand, perhaps it is not so different from the famous proclamation from Martin Luther King, Jr. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. For embrace to happen, all four must be there and they must follow one another on an unbroken timeline; stopping with the first two opening the arms and waiting would abort the embrace, and stopping with the third closing the arms would pervert it from an act of love to an act of oppression and, paradoxically, exclusion.

The four elements are then the four essential steps of an integrated movement. Embrace cannot be forced; nor is embrace is limitless. Nevertheless, in Volf's understanding, embrace is necessary to our full humanities, to forgiveness, and ultimately to justice and the task of creating the kind of society in which we might hope to live and flourish as human beings. As I said at the outset, I think Volf's book is worth reading since it is eerily contemporary in its impulses and in its wrestling.

We can learn from him even where we disagree. I do think that if the book were written now, he might have to ask harder questions about the relationship between justice and love, between embrace and power. It's very clear in Volf's work that he subordinates justice to love, saying that embrace has to shape the definition of justice, that embrace is "about love shaping the very content of justice. From my own position situated within the matrices of power as a white male American middle class human being--all affording me pleasures and potentialities and possibilities that others do not possess in an unjust world--what does it mean for me to offer embrace in the absence of justice.

Is it possible to expect embrace outside the quest or journey toward justice. Volf's book reflects on repentance as a part of this process, but I think he could use even more thinking here in the particular ways that repentance is properly not simply from the self and toward the other ultimately God , but is also and must be a turning away from injustice and my participation in it and toward justice, away from a life in which embrace might be colored with the expectation of inevitable betrayal and toward a life mutuality that in some ways must accompany embrace.

Although I think we would do well to wonder whether subordinating justice is any more appropriate as a Christian ethic than would be the subordinating of one person of the Trinity to another, I do think the Volf's wrestling is worth our reckoning with. It is surely the case that 20 years later we are no closer to the beloved community that embrace would supposedly make possible than we were when Volf wrote this very good and important book. Mar 23, Mike Blyth rated it it was amazing Shelves: forgiveness , reconciliation , theology. I love this book and include it in the top 10 books that have influenced my life.

Living in the fault zone between Muslim and Christian civilizations, and having gone through religious riots and killings in our town, the book's message is especially relevant. Reconciliation is something still being worked on. The book is loaded with insights and nuances that cannot be boiled down to a simple message. However, it is definitely not for everyone. Much of it is extremely academic and as a doctor I co I love this book and include it in the top 10 books that have influenced my life.

Much of it is extremely academic and as a doctor I could only understand it because I had been doing some reading about postmodern culture, criticism and thinking. As an outsider to Volf's academic discipline, I had the feeling I was reading a message of vital importance encased in something that the academy might accept.

Unfortunately it also limits the audience. It's not a book I can easily get my colleagues to read. I would dearly love to see a rewrite for non-specialists, and have even started editing a readable version for friends here. Finally, I think that there is something to Rev. Thomas Scarborough's criticism review on Amazon. I do not agree that the book is in any way shallow, but it does not deal satisfactorily with the difficult problem of what to do when "the other" apparently wants nothing except your own destruction, and where "justice" might seem to require the destruction or at least constraint of "the other.

Volf addressed this after September 11 in an interview with Christianity Today, and doubtless in other writings and addresses, but I did not get much understanding of this from the book. Jan 18, Daunavan Buyer rated it really liked it Shelves: missional , recommendations. Exclusion and Embrace is not a book that should be approached lightly. This work is extremely thought provoking and, at times, challenging.

Not for the faint of heart, Volf presents a thesis that is radically different from popular thinking, in either liberal or conservative circles: that at the heart of the cross, Jesus is modelling is a radical inclusion and opening of Himself to the other, and this is what followers of Christ are called to emulate. At the level of gender, truth, and peace: em Exclusion and Embrace is not a book that should be approached lightly. At the level of gender, truth, and peace: embracing the other is absolutely essential to taking up the cross of Christ.

The reason I did not give five stars is because of the difficulty of this book to read at times.


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Some of the content is necessary for proving the thesis while other aspects seem to be unnecessary. That said, this book is extremely well written. Mar 13, Roland Clark rated it it was amazing. Nov 16, Eric rated it liked it. A very deep and theological book, this explore how Christians can forgive in the face of great evil. Volf is Croation and the book flows out of his experiences as a Christian in the Balkans in the mid and late nineties. Basically the embrace of forgiveness is only made possible at times by appropriate exclusion. This book gave me a new perspective on my parents divorce when it was happening because I could see how divorce as exclusion in order to put a stop to unhealthy relationships can make A very deep and theological book, this explore how Christians can forgive in the face of great evil.

This book gave me a new perspective on my parents divorce when it was happening because I could see how divorce as exclusion in order to put a stop to unhealthy relationships can make room for embrace and forgiveness. This book needs to be read far slower than I did and he uses pretty sophisticated theological vocab and models. Mar 08, Rod White rated it it was amazing. This is one of the best books ever.

I want to start reading it again right now. It is very thick, full of theological intricacies. But underneath it all is a deep understanding of God and a very practical desire to breed reconciliation back into the world. If you would like to understand how to work with the modern and post-modern philosophies that dominate us in this era as a Christian, read this book.

If you want to be a wise peacemaker and a better lover-of-enemies, rad this book. If you dare This is one of the best books ever. If you dare to have a believer's opinion about truth and about world politics, read this book. Jan 29, Donna rated it it was amazing Shelves: social-justice , religion. Miroslav Volf is a very thought provoking theologian. His works are not a quick read, but full of wisdom and information for reflection. This is my favorite of his books, and, although I rarely re-read books, this one is also on my read again list. I am sure I will get even more from it on the second go around.

Oct 09, Paul, rated it liked it. I like the big idea of the book, namely that sin can be pictured by exclusion and the proper response of Christians is the embrace. That being said, much of this book is so speculative, so derivative, so far removed from the text of the Bible that I am unsure of its truth or usefulness. Worth reading, but keep your thinking hat on. May 14, Anieta rated it it was amazing. Theologian Miroslav Volf's is also a Croatian whose theology and faith differed from that of the predominant religion of his culture. He thus writes from biblical text, strong rational argument, and experience.

The beginning chapters of Exclusion and Embrace are deep, but worth wading through as the remainder of the book clarifies and expands on the premises outlined at the beginning.

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Ultimately this book is about redeeming memory without removing boundary. Even so living out truth with integrit Theologian Miroslav Volf's is also a Croatian whose theology and faith differed from that of the predominant religion of his culture. Read more Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private.

Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Please enable cookies in your browser to get the full Trove experience. Skip to content Skip to search. Volf, Miroslav, author. Published Nashville, Tennessee : Abingdon Press, []. Nashville : Abingdon Press, [? Language English View all editions Prev Next edition 2 of 6. Other Authors ebrary, Inc. Identification Religion Verzoening. Identificatie psychologie Other Philosophy -- Religious aspects.

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Reconciliation -- Religious aspects -- Christianity. Reconciliation - Religious aspects - Christianity Religious aspects. Summary Life at the end of the twentieth century presents us with a disturbing reality. Distance and Belonging Ch. Exclusion Ch. Embrace Ch. Gender Identity Ch.

Oppression and Justice Ch. Deception and Truth Ch. Violence and Peace. Notes Includes bibliographical references pages and index. Online ebrary Electronic reproduction. More Posts. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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