We didn’t plan it this way, but my friend and Energion author Dave Black now has a book with a subtitle that begins with “Confessions of …” So what do I mean “not planned” and why is this significant? Well, I wrote a book several years ago, and the subtitle began with “Confessions of …” Not an earth shattering coincidence, but interesting. But it wasn’t planned. In fact, we held a contest for the book title, so you can blame Mark Stevens, who won a free copy of the book for his winning title suggestion.
Oh, I forgot. Dave’s book is titled It’s All Greek to Me: Confessions of an Unlikely Academic. Mine is titled Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Confessions of a Liberal Charismatic. Of course, “liberal charismatic” and “unlikely academic” are not all that similar.
I’m going to have to include the back cover below for those of you who want to track down the Greek text that forms the background.
I’ve gotten a few questions as to why I publish this sort of book. “What sort of book is that?” I’m glad you asked! I’m talking about the memoir, or personal testimony sort of book. A book that tells something about how God has led in the author’s life. I’ve even created a new category over on our Energion Direct web site for testimonies. I consider Psalm 78:1-7 a sort of theme text for my own ministry. I learned to love the Scriptures from my parents who studied it. I hope I will pass that love on to my children. I think it is often more important for people to know what sort of person an author is than what they say. I know this sounds odd coming from someone who publishes books that generally argue one or another point of view. But you see it’s more important to me that my authors are writing about things they care about and truly believe in than how well known they are.
But there’s an additional, personal factor with this particular book. Becoming publisher for some of Dave Black’s books was a surprise to me. It started because one of my authors at the time—and I didn’t have very many—had taken Greek from Dave Black. At the time, Dave had written and had published more books than there were in the Energion catalog. But he entrusted his manuscript for The Jesus Paradigm to my little company.
Let me say something about that manuscript. I have a mental list of books that I think should be getting more attention than they have. I regularly wonder what I can do to bring more attention to them. The Jesus Paradigm is one of those books. More people need ot read it. It will challenge the way we organize our lives and the way we do church. One pastor who read it said with some concern, “This guy is trying to run me out of a job!” Just so! Jesus didn’t die so professional Christians could have jobs. I’m not saying here that there should be no Christians paid to do the work of ministry. I don’t know how many should, but one thing I do know. I know that many, many more unpaid Christians should be doing the work of ministry.
Since I published that manuscript Dave and I have become good friends. Many people think it is an unlikely friendship. A Southern Baptist professor and a Methodist who embraces the title “liberal charismatic”? It may seem odd, but it shouldn’t. Dave is one of those many people I know for whom the kingdom of God is central. We have Jesus!
More importantly he’s very transparent, he means what he says, and he’s ready to listen to disagreements. You can have an excellent discussion with him at just about any moment. And for my more liberal friends who wonder, let me note that I’ve never heard Dave respond to an issue of interpretation by citing his own theology or tradition. He always argues facts and the text. You can disagree, but you’re going to have to deal with the data.
I’m not going to try to explain friendship. I like being an unlikely friend and having unlikely friends. I’m just not sure what makes a friendship “unlikely.” I’m even told my marriage is unlikely, but it seems pretty likely to me.
So consider reading this little book. It’s just $3.99, and I had a lot of fun creating the cover. So here’s the back cover. Enjoy!