Paul and the Faithfulness of God by N. T. Wright. Explores the whole context of Paul's thought and activity— Jewish, Greek and Roman, cultural, philosophical, religious, and imperial— and shows how the apostle's worldview and theology enabled him to engage with the many-sided complexities of first-century life that his churches were facing.
The Birth of Christianity : Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus by John Dominic. Reveals how Christianity emerged in the period following Jesus'; death; shines new light on the theological and cultural contexts from which the Christian church arose.
A Short History of Christianity, Revised Edition by Martin E. Marty. Traces the church's quest through twenty centuries for unity, sanctity, universality, and authentic witness. Delves into the disparity between the ideals of the church and historical realty in order to provide a brilliant, instructive, and eminently fair statement of the history of Christianity from its founding to the present day.
Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass. The data is clear: religious affiliation is plummeting across the breadth of Christian denominations. And yet interest in "spirituality" is on the rise. So what is behind the sea change in American religion? A fresh interpretation of the "spiritual but not religious" trend.
God as the Ground of Being: Tillich and Buddhism in Dialogue: The impact of Paul Tillich's theology on a Christian - Buddhist dialogue by Jeffrey Small. The traditional Christian view of God as a supernatural deity creating the universe and man from nothing often has a difficult time finding common ground for a discussion on the nature of human suffering and the path to human salvation with the non-theistic tradition of Buddhism.
The Jewish Annotated New Testament by Amy-Jill Levine. Although major New Testament figures--Jesus and Paul, Peter and James, Jesus' mother Mary and Mary Magdalene--were Jews, living in a culture steeped in Jewish history, beliefs, and practices, there has never been an edition of the New Testament that addresses its Jewish background and the culture from which it grew--until now.
Saving Jesus From Those Who Are Right by Carter Heyward. A theological resource for spiritual transformation and social change; rethinks the figure and import of Jesus for church, academy, and society.
Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile by John Shelby Spong. An important and respected voice for liberal American Christianity for the past twenty years, Spong integrates his often controversial stands on the Bible, Jesus, theism, and morality into an intelligible creed that speaks to today's thinking Christian. In this compelling and heartfelt book, he sounds a rousing call for a Christianity based on critical thought rather not blind faith.
This Hebrew Lord by John Shelby Spong. Behind supernatural framework, "Illuminating the figure who stands at the center of all the Christian Church is," Spong explores Jesus under the light of the Hebrew tradition into which he was born. Candid, personal, and soundly argued, this is Spong's spiritual and intellectual pilgrimaged to the Christ he discovered in Jesus of Nazareth.
I've always preferred to use the Kingdom language of "Follower-ship" rather than "leader-ship." This subtle distinction is helpful to keep me focused on the outcomes of the Great Commission ... "making disciples." Leonard Sweet articulates this with his own persuasive style.