In the Ruins of the Church

Sustaining Faith in an Age of Diminished Christianity

Cover Art

Where to Purchase


"These coherently collected essays are Rusty Reno in his best action: bluntly honest, deeply analytical, and generally occupying an unexpected viewpoint. He means his title: the church really is in ruins, not just damaged, and we must abide life amid the stones if we are to be saved."--Robert Jenson, Center of Theological Inquiry

"This well-crafted work presents the reader with a new way of interpreting the situation of the church in the modern world, together with practical suggestions for living in ruins without the politics of separation. Reno's is a vivid, engaged, and important voice."--Stephen Sykes, Principal of St John's College, Durham, and Professor of Theology at the University of Durham

The Author

  1. R. R. Reno

    R. R. Reno

    R. R. Reno (PhD, Yale University) is editor of First Things and executive director of the Institute on Religion and Public Life.

    Continue reading about R. R. Reno


"Living in community - even the community of the Christian church, is hard work. [Reno aims] to describe this challenge to the church and to suggest solutions. . . . [He] finds biblical morality as traditionally interpreted much less easy to evade, making his analysis especially helpful for evangelicals suspicious of explaining away what appear to be clear apostolic imperatives."--Jesse J. DeConto, Prism

"The strength of Reno's work is that it beckons Christian believers back into the ruins where we belong. Reno's case for engaging with premodern texts and figures is largely persuasive, especially when he shows how such engagement enables us to live hopefully in our faith."--Cynthia L. Rigby, First Things

"This volume is a penetrating analysis of the postmodern world and the state of the church in that global setting. . . . Persistent readers, be they systematic theologians, church historians, or ecumenists, will be rewarded by their encounter with Reno's description of the contemporary world and the church. . . . An important [work]."--William G. Rusch, Religious Studies Review

"Reno makes a strong case for dwelling in and appreciating the power of the biblical text. . . . Following Nehemiah, I share Reno's hope for a healing of our souls--for inner transformation and salvation. . . . Reno is surely correct to emphasize that attempts to rebuild without a prior focus on dwelling will result in the most profound spiritual loss."--Cynthia L. Rigby, First Things

"[Reno's] arguments for Christian loyalty to the church are vigorous and, ultimately, compelling. In his own language, the church is in ruins, and he wants us to see the spiritual necessity of loyalty to these ruins. . . . Reno's case is passionately argued."--L. Roger Owens, Pro Ecclesia

"Reno provides food for thought in his wide-ranging and often poetic analysis of the state of the Episcopal Church."--Krish Kandiah, Themelios

"The book exhibits a coherent argument with repetition only as is required to swim against so much of the theological stream. . . . The focus on the Anglican tradition, a performance in keeping with a plea to avoid speaking of the church in the abstract, does not lessen the force of [Reno's] argument to those of other denominations. I commend this book to church leaders and theologians alike."--Jeremy M. Bergen, Toronto Journal of Theology

"Reno is eminently quotable, and particularly strong in providing a trenchant critique of the cultural influences that plague the church. . . . His readings of Augustine and Kierkegaard are striking, and his call for commitment to the church as a counter-cultural imperative surely is a point well-taken."--Keith Bodner, Canadian Evangelical Review

"In the Ruins is an intense and wonderfully untidy collection of essays. . . . Its critique deserves to be seriously pondered and its proposal, given an equally serious response."--Vic Froese, Journal of Religious and Theological Information