A New Departure in Christian Theology
Imprint: Baylor University Press
214 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: October 2021
The theological enterprise in the West finds itself in a critical moment. Traditional models have failed to supply the church with the proper tools for engaging the hard, persistent realities of injustice. This is primarily because the models propose a language of faith that does not begin from the part of life where faith begins: namely, the testimonies we encounter along the way.
Leaving Emmaus conceives of theology as "thinking with testimonies of Christian faith," offering new students and seasoned practitioners alike a "new departure" for Christian discourse. The book restructures the sources of theology (Scripture, tradition, reason, experience) to make space for the integration of new voices alongside a thoughtful reading of Scripture and classic texts of the tradition. Discussing and interpreting our encounters with the risen Christ becomes a way of "leaving our home" of personal experience or faith conviction. In company with Alice Walker, Gregory of Nyssa, Rowan Williams, and Eve Sedgwick, Anthony Baker unfolds this integrative language and initiates a new departure into classical themes of theology, gathered around the central image of the Emmaus encounter. The "burning hearts" of that pericope become a periperformative encounter with the Word, issuing in the Spirit's internal witnesses to the calling of all creation by the Father to find itself in the risen Christ.
In this way the act of testimony itself becomes a repetition of the trinitarian God. This repetition carries through each loci of theology, from theological anthropology to eschatology. Noteworthy among the new insights this brings are a thoughtfully structured understanding of sin, a bold recovery of sacrifice, and an integrated theology of prayer. Baker equips us with a fresh map for navigating the peculiar demands of our cultural moment through resourcing the heritage of our shared faith for a theology that witnesses to the fullness of life and extends welcome to all.
Introduction: Thinking with the Witnesses
5 Human Beings
6 The God-Human
11 Last Things
Like the two traveling companions walking on the road to Emmaus, leading them from a well-known path to an unfamiliar realm in which they encounter the Risen Christ in a communal breaking and sharing of bread, Anthony Baker invites theologians and communities of faith to ‘leave home’ and undergo a process of metanoia in order to realize together who God is. By becoming attentive to the diversity of testimonies that reveal the challenging, nourishing, transforming, and liberating Good News about God within us—even in our corporeal world embroiled in crisis—we can attain this urgent theological discernment and practice.~Ángel F. Méndez-Montoya, Full-Time Professor and Researcher, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City
The humane breadth of Christian belief has rarely been displayed better than in Leaving Emmaus. Deeply grounded in the historical tradition, the concerns of human life are never far away, both encountered in literature and the arts and seen in compassionate attention to some of the most pressing social challenges of our day. The range of scriptural discussion is fascinatingly wide. I do not know of a more creative teacher of theology than Anthony Baker.~Andrew Davison, Starbridge Senior Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, and Fellow and Dean of Chapel, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Mirroring a superb, tenacious, rugged tour guide for the iconic Grand Canyon National Park, Dr. Anthony Baker uses the lucid, passionate language of ‘disrupted contemplation,’ to engage theology as faithful transcendence and testimony. He superimposes constructive over classical systematic theological categories framed in everyday language. Leaving Emmaus—grounded in autobiographical, experiential questions and reflections of a faithful life of family, colleagues, world events, scripture, history, novels, and plays—names large-scale, systemic failures, as it focuses on faithful transcendence. Luke 24 forms the biblical background for the volume. By mapping ancient and contemporary theologies, the text focuses on helping students learn to think theologically while exploring personal and communal contextual testimonies. Engaging categories of theology, spirit, Trinity, creation, human beings, the God-human, sin, sacrifice, church, prayer, and last things, Leaving Emmaus challenges readers to an inspiring encounter from an interdisciplinary perspective. Such an encounter involves retelling testimonies that move one toward freedom, hope, and transcendent love. This text is a must-read for those interested in thinking in new ways about theology as prophetic praxis and pragmatic pedagogy.~The Rev. Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, Ph.D., Scholar, Consultant, Poet, and Performer