Thirty years ago, Ben Witherington III prayed for the energy to write a commentary on every book of the New Testament. This he has done, in addition to writing several other books, including a two-volume work of New Testament theology and ethics. Now, at age 60, the prolific author and Asbury Theological Seminary professor has turned his attention to activities that make up, he says, "99 percent of people's ordinary lives." The result is his latest release, The Rest of Life: Rest, Play, Eating, Studying, Sex from a Kingdom Perspective (Eerdmans). Rachel Marie Stone, author of the forthcoming Eat with Joy: Redeeming God's Gift of Food (InterVarsity), spoke with Witherington about the need for theological and ethical reflection on the everyday things of life.
Having written many scholarly volumes, why are you now turning your attention to the "ordinary" things of life?
There is very little serious theological reflection on the ordinary Christian life: the things we do every day, like working, playing, eating, or going to church. I wanted to ask, "What do these things look like in the light of the coming kingdom of God? Where did God intend all these things to go?" I wanted to somehow take a global view that would work toward the integration of all these things in the mundane life: keeping in balance work, worship, play, sex, and so forth. The aim was to fill a gap in theological reflection.?
Where do you see a Christian tendency to "baptize" worldly things with a Christian justification?
Christians have infinite how-to manuals on marriage, money, sex, and everything else, but I don't see much of what I read in 1 Corinthians 7, which speaks of sitting lightly with ...