Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation
By Miroslav Volf
336 pp.; $19.95, paper
If you've browsed lately in a seminary bookstore, you will have noticed the shelf-straining quantity of new or recently published works of systematic theology and the even greater volume of biblical commentary—including many books in both categories by evangelicals. And a few blocks away in the mall, the Christian bookstore will be well supplied with popular guides that offer practical application of Christian principles to every manner of concern, from child-raising to love-making to managing your finances. But where do you go to find books that bridge the gap between the seminary and the mall—books in which theological reflection and biblical interpretation are brought to bear on our common lives with clarity and intellectual rigor?
Miroslav Volf displays such ability in his powerful new book, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Volf's concerns about the dynamics of exclusion and embrace are significantly shaped by his identity as a Croatian. He was once asked whether he could embrace a cetnik, one of the notorious Serbian fighters who were destroying his country and his people. He knew immediately how he wanted to respond: "No, I cannot—but as a follower of Christ I think I should be able to."
Exclusion and Embrace provides a poignantly honest and profoundly theological account of the moral significance of both sides of that response. As Volf puts it in his preface,
The tension between the message of the cross and the world of violence presented itself to me as a conflict between the desire to follow the Crucified ...1