Low Anthropology (Book Review)

I’ve been compulsively following David Zahl and Mockingbird Ministries, reading and listening to everything I could get my hands on, for the past 3 years or so. Many I’ve talked to in the Christian community don’t know what to do with an author who is (on this book) endorsed by both the libertine progressive Nadia Bolz-Weber and the evangelical reformer Mike Cosper, let alone by those who no longer identify with the faith at all. Zahl, and Mockingbird, are seen either as antinomian (rejecting the law and therefore normative Christian ethical teaching) by Conservatives or as too confessional and evangelical by Liberals. Perhaps it is the fact that I lost any credibility to either theological tradition that led me to Mockingbird. Connecting with the expansive online world of MBird & Friends has assured me that I am not alone.

Just as he did with his earlier book, Seculosity, Zahl connects the refreshing river of grace with the often dry land of contemporary life from the first page. Unfortunately, too many would-be readers will be completely unaware of the good news within both books because of their clever titles. Be assured, the pages of this book contain not the dense exposition of ideas, but rather the proclamation of life-giving words. Zahl is a preacher in the best sense of the word, using illustrations from culture and society to distill complex God-talk into potent nuggets of Spiritual energy. In the tradition of Luther, Zahl provides a phenomenally potent account of the Theology of the Cross in everyday life. The best part is, Zahl doesn’t get stuck in the scaffolding of theology. He stays out in the concrete world of real life actions and decisions.

I’ll tell you, these words of grace are dangerous. If you haven’t heard these words of freedom before, you might just experience for yourself the lengths God will go to redeem your experience. Living out of the freedom of the Gospel (and not the constraints of the Law) might just lead you to an understanding of your own innate incapacity for goodness (ergo, Low Anthropology). This book offers good news that God will find you there and transform your life fully outside your own effort.

Low Anthropology by David Zahl is available wherever books are sold. If you’re looking for an independent bookseller to support, might I recommend Hearts & Minds Books.

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