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All Things Hold Together in Christ

A Conversation on Faith, Science, and Virtue

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As Christians engage controversial cultural issues, we must remember that "all things hold together in Christ" (Col. 1:17)--even when it comes to science and faith. This anthology is an invitation to find resources for faithful, creative thinking in the riches of the church's theological heritage and its worship traditions. Reflecting "the Colossian Way" this book offers a vision that will help congregations pursue the truth in love. Top Christian thinkers show how attending to the formation of virtue through the practices of worship creates the hospitable space we need to deal with difference and disagreement in the body of Christ.


Foreword by Michael Gulker
Introduction by James K. A. Smith
Part 1: Creating a Community for the Conversation: Ecclesiology and Worship
1. The Church as Church: Practicing the Politics of Jesus Rodney Clapp
2. Friends of God and Friends of God's Friends Samuel Wells
3. Friendship and the Ways to Truth David Burrell
4. Worship Is Our Worldview: Christian Worship and the Formation of Desire James K. A. Smith
5. Common Prayer Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro
Part 2: Putting on Christ: Formation in Virtue
6. The Master Argument of MacIntyre's After Virtue Brad Kallenberg
7. The Nature of the Virtues Alasdair MacIntyre
8. The Church as a Community of Practice Jonathan R. Wilson
9. Resistance to the Demands of Love: On Sloth Rebecca DeYoung
10. Cultivating Gratitude: Pray without Ceasing Paul Griffiths
11. Why Christian Character Matters N. T. Wright
Part 3: Come Let Us Reason Together: Tradition-Based Rationality
12. The Rationality of Traditions Alasdair MacIntyre
13. Aquinas and the Rationality of Tradition Alasdair MacIntyre
14. The Epistemic Priority of Jesus Christ Robert Barron
15. Reading Scripture with the Reformers Timothy George
Part 4: All Things Hold Together in Christ: Exploring God's World
16. Come and See: A Christological Invitation for Science Mark Noll
17. Encountering God's World: Curiositas vs. Caritas Paul Griffiths
18. The Religious Path to Exclusive Humanism: From Deism to Atheism James K. A. Smith
19. Natural Theology, or a Theology of Creation? Stanley Hauerwas
20. Science, Stories, and Our Knowledge of the Natural World Alasdair MacIntyre
21. Science for the Church: Natural Sciences in the Christian University Jonathan R. Wilson


"A quiet revolution is going on in the contested debates between science and religion, and this anthology represents vital reading for its manifesto. The foreword and introduction by the editors are essential prior reading in laying out the way this book can be a training manual in learning how to think differently about those debates. Scientific knowledge as equated with understanding what nature is all about becomes unsettled by an insistence on the cultural embedding of science as practice. Theological knowledge is qualified by reference to the practical and ecclesial context in which that knowledge needs to be grounded. The steps required to re-vision such a perspective are built into this anthology, drawing on influential theologians and philosophers who have, in different ways, insisted on the importance of Scripture-laden faith traditions and virtue development. The editors insist, and I think they are correct, that the methodological basis for understanding dialogue between theology and science needs to be overhauled. It is time for theology to reclaim a voice but at the same time become aware of its limitations as a servant in the broader vision of building the church for a new century. This anthology will be essential reading for the student and educated layperson alike."

Celia Deane-Drummond, director, Center for Theology, Science, and Human Flourishing, professor of theology, University of Notre Dame

"This book demonstrates how texts can speak again and afresh in new contexts. This anthology's convergence of authors and readings invites readers into a new way of thinking about faithful Christian practice amid the postmodern university, Christian or otherwise. As such, those who follow the logic of All Things Hold Together in Christ--a dense yet sturdy argument whose path is facilitated by our conductors' expert arrangement of many renowned voices into a novel harmony--will be initiated into 'The Colossian Way,' which aspires to be nothing less than a viable mode of contemporary discipleship along the way of Jesus in a secular world."

Amos Yong, professor of theology and mission, Fuller Theological Seminary

"The Colossian Forum is renewing the conversation on science in the church today. It's the kind of conversation we need--starting with worship of the Creator, practicing humble dialogue within Christian communities, and remembering the limits of science as well as its importance in a Christian worldview. This volume presents the writings of leading philosophers, theologians, and historians on the role of Christian practice in forming virtues, the role of virtues in forming intellectual discourse, and the role of Christology in forming our understanding of science and creation. Our best guard against deism and scientism is to center the science and faith conversation on Jesus Christ, the crucified savior and the creator of the cosmos, in whom all things hold together."

Deborah Haarsma, president, BioLogos

"A valuable collection of writings for those wishing to go deeper into the theoretical underpinnings of The Colossian Forum. Drawing on Alasdair MacIntyre's work, various scholars develop insights for a virtue-centered approach to discipleship, holding out hope for the church as a cultivator of virtue through practices, shaping believers who express the faith as a living tradition. Focused on religion and science, the implications extend more broadly to dialogue and debate over divisive issues, always looking for ways that faith can shape us to better engage challenges not as a threat but as a context in which faith may deepen."

Jenell Paris, professor of anthropology, Messiah College; senior fellow, The Colossian Forum

The Authors

  1. James K. A. Smith
    Seth Thompson, © 2017 Green Frog Photo

    James K. A. Smith

    James K. A. Smith (PhD, Villanova University) is a popular speaker and the award-winning author of a number of influential books, including Desiring the Kingdom, How (Not) to Be Secular, You Are What You Love, On the Road with...

    Continue reading about James K. A. Smith

  2. Michael L. Gulker

    Michael L. Gulker

    Michael L. Gulker (MDiv, Duke Divinity School) is president of The Colossian Forum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and an ordained Mennonite pastor. He previously pastored a church in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Continue reading about Michael L. Gulker


"All Things Hold Together in Christ draws its title from Colossians 1:17, an important truth, especially when it comes to the controversial and infamous debate between science and faith. . . . [This book] brings together some of the best Christian thinkers to form believers into a community that recognizes Jesus Christ as the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of all things, transforming the faith-science conversation to properly understand the place of reason, tradition, and the importance of virtue and character. . . . Be ready to not only be informed by this book; let this book play a part in forming you as it leads you into a paradigm-shift in your conversations on controversial issues."

Theron St. John,

Englewood Review of Books