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Christianity in a Nutshell.

Christianity in a Nutshell.

By Leonardo Boff, translated from the Portuguese by Phillip Berryman. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2013. Pp. viii, 119. Paperback $18.

A mark of maturity is the ability to synthesize a lifetime of reflection with clarity. Avoiding theological and philosophical language, Leonardo Boff in 119 pages poetically and prophetically articulates the essence of Christianity and his sixty books. In synch with modern science, he places God's "divine dynamism" (9) in creation and liberation in the context of billions of years of the "entire evolutionary process" (118) in which everything is connected.

Chapter 1, "Christianity and Mystery," develops the foundational assumption: "All is Mystery." God-Mystery desires to be known, self-communicates, and attracts humankind to know it and respond in "wonder and reverence" (5). Boff explores a new insight, "God is Mystery to us and to Godself." Thereby, "God's self-knowing never ends." It is "entire and full, and at the same time ever open to new fullness" (6). This thread of "newness" and "openness" continues until the "end" with "the new heaven and the new earth ... culmination of all things in the reign of the Trinity" (119).

For Boff the essence of Christianity is not in doctrines, dogmas, church, or rituals but in communion with the divine persons of the Triune God, who "always act in communion" (22), and with others. The loving actions of Father, Son (human and divine), and Holy Spirit are expounded with creative spiritual insights. The reign of God was the "great dream" that consumed Jesus. The Lord's Prayer encapsulates the core message of God's reign: relationship with "Our Father/Mother" and provision of "our bread"--human needs. In the last chapter Boff criticizes the church's option for power and its neglect of the centrality of the Trinity and of the fact that Jesus was a "poor and humble Nazarene" (96) and "Suffering Servant and Persecuted Prophet" (60,97).

This book will inspire secular seekers of spirituality and mature scholars eager to integrate a life of reflection with profound simplicity.

Sherron K. George is a retired Presbyterian Church (USA) regional liaison for South America and former professor of mission and evangelism at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas.

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Author:George, Sherron K.
Publication:International Bulletin of Missionary Research
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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