Walter Brueggemann commends new book in 'After Christendom' series

Lloyd Pietersen's new book - the sixth in the 'After Christendom' series - Reading the Bible after Christendom will be published in 2010. Lloyd is delighted that well-respected Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann, has written a foreword, commending this book very warmly. Here is an extract from the foreword:

Lloyd Pietersen has written an important and challenging book to which sustained attention must be paid. He begins with a recognition that biblical interpreters in the West (and the whole church) now occupy a new cultural situation that requires a renovation of many assumptions and practices, not least the way in which Scripture is read and interpreted. His use of the term “Christendom” points both to the challenge and to the seductions to which the church, over time, has succumbed. The book begins with a stunning historical summary of the establishment of Christendom that was to enthrall the imagination of the church for many centuries…until now. Pietersen can see that decisions made by Constantine within the scope of six quick days settled the creedal, canonical, and political matrix of the church for all time to come…until now. The outcome was to make the church the handmaid of imperial power and to hand interpretation over to the socio-political elites. While the matter of political influence and entitlement is abundantly clear, what matters for this book is the doctrinal Gestalt of creation-sin-redemption that came to dominate and control the church’s interpretation of scripture. That grid, with its accent on “the fall,” lined out human persons and human community as powerless, and handed authority over the forgiveness of sin to the imperial church. Pietersen marks the way in which this theological grid has been everywhere accepted without serious critical reservation.

Pietersen’s book is a pedagogical project and I have learned much from it. At the same time, it is a passionate pastoral summons to the church to recover the world bespoken in the text and entrusted to us. Given the highly visible and unmistakable failure of the Constantinian system, this fresh reading may be just what is required, not simply to revive the church but to mediate the moral energy needed for a new society. Much of this has long been known among faithful Mennonites, the circle from which this book arises. But beyond Mennonites, this book is an important invitation to critique old categories of power and truth, and to read again, and so to be empowered for a different life in the world.