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The Church's Great Malfunctions
Though theology, like nearly every human endeavor, is a collaborative process, not many eminent theologians turn in articles with the names of co-authors attached. But Miroslav Volf's article arrived bearing no fewer than five additional namesJoseph Cumming, David Miller, Andrew Saperstein, Christian Scharen, and Travis Tucker, his colleagues at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.
That generosity is a good clue to Volf's contribution to Christian theology. His 1996 book Exclusion and Embrace was both a serious work of biblical and theological investigation and a deeply personal reflection on the horrors of sectarian violence in his native Croatia, setting a standard for personal engagement with its subject that theology, unfortunately, rarely meets.
The Yale Center for Faith and Culture is dedicated to advancing faith as "a way of life," not just a way of thinkinga way that should transform every human practice. While the essay responds to the question we've been addressing in CT's 50th anniversary yearHow can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good?the Yale Center staff's collaboration is also an eloquent answer all by itself.
There is a remarkable image in the closing pages of Scripture that has become a touchstone for the way my colleagues and I think about faith and culture. Amid its descriptions of the New Jerusalem, Revelation includes "the tree of life, bearing 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:2). The tree holds out hope that whole cultures will be healed and mended, becoming places where people can flourish. And it sets an agenda for faith as a way of life that contributes to that ...1