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Balancing Acts: Obligation, Liberation, and Contemporary Christian Conflicts [Paperback]

By Henry G. Brinton (Author)
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Item description for Balancing Acts: Obligation, Liberation, and Contemporary Christian Conflicts by Henry G. Brinton...

Overview
American congregations are more divided than ever over a broad range of theological and social issues -- and this book outlines an innovative way to understand and address these difficult conflicts. Balancing Acts introduces readers to the two major spiritual themes that animate life in America today -- obligation and liberation -- and discusses how most Christians align themselves with one of these attitudes. One group focuses on the obligations of religious life and seeks moral clarity, while the other tends to see religion as a liberation movement and stresses God's love for the oppressed of the earth. The ability to strike a balance between these competing camps is the key to managing tension in the church and in the larger community -- and Balancing Acts provides readers with the tools to find and nurture Christian unity in the face of political, cultural, and theological diversity. Whether the issue is women in ministry, presidential politics, immigration, homosexuality, or war, this book demonstrates how common ground can be found by people of faith who are willing to perform a balancing act between obligation and liberation.

Publishers Description
Henry Brinton identifies the social and political phenomenon of our time -- the increasing tendency of people to live and worship in like-minded communities. Not only does Brinton explain the theological basis for this ideological segregation, but he shows in dozens of examples the way a polarized country can regain its balance. Bill Bishop, Staff Writer Austin American-Statesman American congregations are more divided than ever over a broad range of theological and social issues -- and this book outlines an innovative way to understand and address these difficult conflicts. Balancing Acts introduces readers to the two major spiritual themes that animate life in America today -- obligation and liberation -- and discusses how most Christians align themselves with one of these attitudes. One group focuses on the obligations of religious life and seeks moral clarity, while the other tends to see religion as a liberation movement and stresses God's love for the oppressed of the earth. The ability to strike a balance between these competing camps is the key to managing tension in the church and in the larger community -- and Balancing Acts provides readers with the tools to find and nurture Christian unity in the face of political, cultural, and theological diversity. Whether the issue is women in ministry, presidential politics, immigration, homosexuality, or war, this book demonstrates how common ground can be found by people of faith who are willing to perform a balancing act between obligation and liberation. In Balancing Acts, Henry Brinton draws on his own rich experience to offer a way of approaching hot-button social issues with both pastoral and prophetic care. It's a useful read for any pastor and should stimulate discussion in congregations everywhere. Art Simon, Founder and President Emeritus Bread for the World How are we to minister and serve in the church today? Here is a healthy analysis of the challenge to faithful Christians in North American congregational life, provided by a thoughtful and experienced pastor. Brinton calls us to balance the obligation-keeping necessary for life together with the liberation-seeking call of the gospel. The work deserves a careful reading by both pastors and lay leaders in congregations, as well as by seminarians preparing to serve and lead the church. Louis B. Weeks, President Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education A clear and compelling model for individuals and congregations wrestling with issues that are increasingly dividing and polarizing the church and our society. By grounding his work in the fundamental yet opposing biblical themes of obligation and liberation, Brinton provides a means for us to move from the labels of left and right, conservative and liberal, toward a common ground where dialogue and understanding are possible. Vanessa B. Andrews, Director National Cathedral Association Henry G. Brinton is the senior pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia, and senior writer for the preaching journal Homiletics. He is also a frequent contributor to the Outlook section of the Washington Post, writing on contemporary religious issues. Brinton is a graduate of Duke University (B.A.) and Yale Divinity School (M.Div.). About the Author Henry G. Brinton is the senior pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia, and senior writer for the preaching journal Homiletics. He is also a frequent contributor to the Outlook section of the Washington Post, writing on contemporary religious issues. Brinton is a graduate of Duke University (B.A.) and Yale Divinity School (M.Div.).

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Item Specifications...


Studio: CSS Publishing Company
Pages   148
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.48" Width: 6.2" Height: 0.37"
Weight:   0.46 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2006
Publisher   CSS Publishing Company
Edition  New  
ISBN  0788023861  
ISBN13  9780788023866  


Availability  116 units.
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More About Henry G. Brinton


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Henry G. Brinton is senior pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia, and a contributor to the preaching journal Homiletics. He is the author of the book Balancing Acts: Obligation, Liberation, and Contemporary Christian Conflicts and has written on religious topics for USA Today and The Washington Post.

Henry G. Brinton was born in 1960.

Henry G. Brinton has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Immersion Bible Studies


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Reviews - What do customers think about Balancing Acts: Obligation, Liberation, and Contemporary Christian Conflicts?

Prophetic Probing and Dialectic Tension  Apr 2, 2007
Henry Brinton has been tackling challenging issues for many years. His church, in Northern Virginia, is in the midst of the DC Beltway ethos of compromise and euphemism, however, he maintains a uniquely clear and accessible perspective. He has honed his insight as a frequent contributor to the Washington Post.

Pastor Brinton provides a gyroscope for many of the dividing issues within mainline Protestantism. Following traditions like Jacques Ellul - he uses the tension between issues of Liberty and Obligation as glue instead of as a wedge.

Henry provides a perspective that every lay person needs in order to arrive at a sure foundation in uncertain times.
 
An Important book for us in the pews and pulpits  Sep 17, 2006
I want to commend Henry Brinton for his successful effort to define the critical issues the Presbyterian Church (USA) and other "main line" churches face today and into the near future and encouraging us to zero in on these issues in the every day life of the church. John McLellan
 
The Road to Christian Unity  Sep 13, 2006
I have long enjoyed Henry Brinton's columns in The Washington Post and USA Today. Balancing Acts is another outstanding example of Brinton's understanding of the spiritual crisis in America created by our own diversity and certainty in our own opinions. This is honest, straightforward, and necessary talk about the division so prevalant in Christianity on both theological and social issues. Brinton does not simply offer these topics lip service--he offers practical examples of how to bring about unity in a faith divided. This should be required reading for pastors and lay people alike.
 
The Missing Piece  Sep 7, 2006
Pastor Brinton does an excellent job of describing Obligation (the individual with God) and Liberation (the individual with the unknown masses). What is missing is the individual with family.
Our God has revealed Himself to us as Father.
Not Hermit-Monk (Obligation) or social-Christian reformer (Liberation).
Our culture minimizes the role of Father and reduces it to a sitcom. Thereby, the clever devil undermines the paradigm of God the Father.
I challenge Pastor Brinton to write a book on "Intentionally Unfruitful". How can we moderns understand God's revelation if we had no father, were abandoned by a father, or choose to flee from responsibilities of fatherhood?
 
Dialogues in the Pews  Aug 7, 2006
Henry G. Brinton, pastor sequentially of two medium to large mainstream churches in the northern Virginia suburbs, writes with engaging nuance of one of the most complex jobs around.

"What does God require of pastors?" seems to be the underlying question. Brinton's answer: "balancing acts." The image evoked for me was of a high-wire artist, juggling a red-hot pole with a cluster of strongly held beliefs dealing with "obligation"--purity, moral clarity, exclusiveness--on one end, and a cluster of beliefs-in-progress, dubbed "liberation"--diversity, charity, inclusiveness--on the other end.

These theological tensions, as mediated by pastors, are the meat of the book, "a balancing act between the truth of God and the grace of God." (Brinton, quoting Rev. Dr. Susan Andrews, former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (PC(USA)).

The analytic use of moral categories like Obligation (Abraham, covenant) and Liberation (Moses, exodus) is designed to help us understand a source of conflicting group passions in theologically and demographically diverse congregations, in cultural politics, and ecumenism. In this genre, the Berkeley linguist, George Lakoff's "strict father"/"nurturant parent" come to mind, or Jack Haberer's five types of "God Views."

Brinton opens up (a) mismatches between young pastor expectations and deep-seated ways of doing that involve comfort, maintenance, tradition; (b) the impact of wholesale incorporation of immigrant groups into progressive churches; (c) the ambivalent reception by committees on the preparation for ministry of the flood of women inquirers and candidates; (d) government faith-based involvement; (e) relation with other denominations; (f) gays and lesbians; (g) youth and mission; (h) the unchurched and self-help spirituality; and (i) living in a nation at war.

The text is sprinkled with insights from the Pulpit & Pew research project at Duke (where 46-year-old Brinton did his undergraduate work; his M.Div. is from Yale), and from his wide-ranging reading. Parishioneres and leading lights, academic and ecumenical, serve as quotable resources in Brinton's conversation with the reader.

Things 'get in balance', in Brinton's view, when people work together, learn to respect one another in outreach and church work, and in loving, joyful worship. The chapters are thematic and lend themselves to good small group discussion.
 

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