Perhaps: Reclaiming the Space between Doubt and Dogmatism (IVP Academic, Fall, 2021) (buy/preorder here)
This book encourages readers to reclaim the little word “perhaps” as a sacred space between the warring extremes of unchecked doubt and zealous dogmatism. To say “perhaps” on certain contested topics means exercising a hopeful imagination, asking hard questions, returning once again to Scripture, and reclaiming the place of holy speculation as we cling to a faith that stands distinct from both pervasive skepticism and abrasive certainty.
In this day especially, it’s time Christians learned to say “perhaps.”
“Perhaps a meadow exists between dogmatism and skepticism, a fruitful space for cultivating beautiful truth. Perhaps Origen, Augustine, and Edwards can converse there with Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy. Perhaps instead of rehearsing or debunking information, we can foster theological imagination. Perhaps Joshua McNall’s wit and wisdom has pointed the church toward a better future. Perhaps we should listen.”Matthew W. Bates, author of Gospel Allegiance and associate professor of theology at Quincy University
“Drawing on the best insights from believers, thinkers, and artists of the past, Perhaps demonstrates that the brightest future of the church will be cultivated through the kind of theological imagination modeled here. Such an imagination—robust and inviting, informed and inquisitive—encourages a confidence in Christian belief that, paradoxically, can come only with a willingness to wonder what might be. Perhaps is one of the most faith-building books I’ve read in a long time.”Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books and Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me
The Mosaic of Atonement: An Integrated Approach to Christ’s Work (Zondervan Academic, 2019) (buy here)
The Mosaic of Atonement offers a fresh and integrated approach to four historic models of atonement.
While modern treatments of the doctrine have tended toward either a defensive hierarchy, in which one model is singled out as most important, or a disconnected plurality, in which multiple images are affirmed but with no order of arrangement, this book argues for a reintegration of four famous “pieces” of atonement doctrine through the governing image of Christ-shaped mosaic.
Unlike a photograph in which tiny pixels present a seamless blending of color and shape, a mosaic allows each piece to retain its recognizable particularity, while also integrating them in the service of a single larger image. If one stands close, one can identify individual squares of glass or tile that compose the greater picture. And if one steps back, there is the larger picture to be admired. Yet in the great mosaics of age-old Christian churches, the goal is not for viewers to construct the image, as in a puzzle, but to appreciate it.
So too with this mosaic of atonement doctrine. While no one model is set above or against the others, the book notes particular ways in which the “pieces”–the feet, heart, head, and hands–mutually support one another to form a more holistic vision of Christ’s work. “This is my body,” Jesus said to his followers, and by reintegrating these oft-dismembered aspects of atonement, we will note fresh ways in which it was given for us.
Long Story Short: the Bible in Six Simple Movements (Seedbed, 2018) (buy here)
The Bible can be daunting. It’s ancient, enormous, and sometimes challenging to understand. Long Story Short opens up the Christian Scriptures by sharing the biblical narrative in a way that requires no prior engagement with the Bible. It traces the big story of who God is and how he is saving the world through six simple movements: Creation; Fall, Israel; Jesus; Church; New Creation. With this framework in place, readers will not only understand how the little stories of the Bible fit together into a seamless whole, they will also be compelled to step into the drama to be part of its performance.
This book is for anyone who may find the Bible confusing, irrelevant, or inaccessible. Included at the end of each chapter are group/reflection questions, and references for sections of Bible reading that accompany that part of the scriptural story.
“Joshua McNall in his engaging and witty little book Long Story Short, can help you understand the storied world in and of the Bible, and perhaps more importantly help you understand how actually you are in the story, and you must embrace it as yours.”
Dr. Ben Witherington III
Amos Professor of NT for Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary
“Long Story Short will make you smile, make you think, make you wince, make you wonder. It warmly welcomes you into fresh engagement with ancient truth. Josh masterfully connects the familiar with what we have yet to discover. Whether you read it personally or discuss it in a book club or small group, you’ll see yourself in God’s story.”
General Superintendent, The Wesleyan Church
A Free Corrector: Colin Gunton and the Legacy of Augustine (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015) (buy here)
The published version of my doctoral thesis, A Free Corrector evaluates the work of the twentieth century British theologian, Colin Gunton, and his controversial treatment of Augustine’s theological legacy.
While others have critiqued Gunton’s negative reading of Augustine, my book goes further in addressing Gunton’s argument regarding Augustine’s “afterlife” (that is, the appropriation of Augustine by crucial figures from the medieval era to the dawn of modern thought).
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