Nov 2, 2009

Hope In Time of Uncertainty

I love to read and admittedly I am forced in a way to read as I am currently doing some doctoral studies with Fuller Seminary which requires me to read and review many books. Over the last few weeks I have been madly reading away as I have a class coming up on culture and faith. Anyways, I thought you may enjoy my review on David Smith's book, Moving Towards Emmaus: Hope in Time of Uncertainty.

A fabulous book by David Smith based around the Lucan narrative where the disciples have left Jerusalem after the death of Christ and are on their way to Emmaus in a state of despair. Jerusalem represents the place at which all hope is lost as our Lord and the things we place our trust in are put to death. The road to Emmaus is a surprising journey whereby despair is echoed yet Christ himself comes to walk on that road, to bring comfort yet is not recognized. It is only at the breaking of bread that Christ is revealed and that the despairing disciples receive hope and are propelled back to the urban city of Jerusalem with good news. Smith takes this passage and explores the parallel applications there are for the times the church now finds herself in and also for the individual believer’s life. The overall assumption is that the church is in a time of despair as modernism has given way to a postmodern society that no longer looks to the Christian church for guidance. The church is in a time of despair as what she hoped to be effective is not so the case in today’s world. Smith also talks of other faiths and individuals from all walks of life that correctly find themselves in despair and how the Lucan narrative serves as a passage of connection and ultimate encouragement in Christ. At the end of each chapter, the author has what he calls ‘dispatches from the Emmaus road’ where testimonies of different people’s lives are recorded to illustrate the material included in each chapter. These are a fascinating read as both Christian and non-Christian stories are included. Smith in his preface expresses his desire to have this book read by Christian and non-Christian people alike.

The entire book was very enjoyable, chapter 3 on the ‘unknown Christ’ was thought provoking. Smith suggests that as the disciples did not recognize Christ on the road with them, so it is also with us at times. We have a perception of Christ that is often incorrect; it is clouded by our own limitations of experience and culture and is from our ideological reading of the Bible. Consequently what the disciples had been hoping for was wrong . Smith says that although the Emmaus Road is a place for healing it is only that because it creates a space within which we can look again at what we first thought we knew, and humbly recognize the partial nature of our previous understanding of the ways of God . As I consider how the church can be more effective in reaching today’s society, I find myself in challenging times and am, like Smith suggests re-examining the Jesus that I thought I knew. This book gives me hope that Christ is with me and wanting me to understand new ways for the future. I am excited that at the revelation of Christ, the disciples took the good news back to Jerusalem, to the urban city. My desire is to continue to take the gospel to the urban spaces of Australia and that through my struggles and questioning on my own Emmaus Road that people will ultimately know Christ and that others will be trained and equipped to successfully reach out with the Gospel.

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Have a terrific day,