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Christopraxis: A Practical Theology of the Cross.

Christopraxis: A Practical Theology of the Cross. By Andrew Root. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014. ISBN; 978-1-4514-78150. xvi and 311 pages. Paper. $39.00.

This book is a study in "practical theology," a discipline that seeks to connect theology with church practice. This book is unique in that it counters secular trends in the discipline. In opposition to voices that focus solely on the contributions of the social sciences to practical theology, Root seeks to honor "evangelical experience," in which people claim that God is active in their lives. Based on the testimonies of lay people from two Pacific Northwest congregations, Root shows that they imply a "realism" with respect to God: God is active in molding their faith journeys. For Root, ministry then is at the intersection of where God meets people's needs. He articulates a "Christopraxis practical theology of the cross" that honors Jesus' continued ministry and sees ministry as helping people discern how God is working in their lives. The key for deciphering God's role in people's lives is the doctrine of justification by faith, for which Root appeals to the contemporary German theologian, Eberhard Jungel. Jungel's approach to justification by faith teaches us to honor God's work with people as relational, personal, and embodied. God's justifying work reorients believers such that they can serve as Christ in their congregations and communities. Root maintains that people need to nurture a critical awareness with respect to their experiences; they need to acknowledge that believers can be misguided about their experiences with God. Hence, they need to be vigilant with discerning whether and how God is working with them. This book is helpful for working pastors, counselors, and judicatories because it is sensitive to "hands-on" ministry. In my view, the book would be enhanced if it were also to acknowledge that God's work is embodied precisely as word and sacrament. But in general Root acknowledges that human experience with God is discerned best within the primary narratives of the scriptures and the gospel.

Mark Mattes

Grand View University

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Author:Mattes, Mark
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2015
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