Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Divine Embrace 1

Robert Webber for more than thirty years called evangelicalism to its historical roots. It is a fact that far too many evangelicals simply don’t know their church history but Bob educated an entire generation of Wheaton students in what many today call “deep ecclesiology” or “evangelical ecumenism”. Many followed him on the Canterbury Trail. I begin today a series on Webber’s new book, The Divine Embrace, the last book he published before his passing last Spring.
Question: How familiar are you with Webber? Which of his books have most influenced you? Which of his ideas most influenced you?
[If you click on Webber’s name above you will be led to the Amazon page on Webber’s books. Hence, no links below.]
Many became aware of Webber’s work because of his Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail while emerging Christians may not known of him until his The Younger Evangelicals. I like his more recent Ancient-Future series:
Ancient-Future Faith
Ancient-Future Time
Ancient-Future Evangelism
This new book, The Divine Embrace. The subtitle is “Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life.” This project, like so many of his books, will take us deep into the history of the Church, into the Patristics, and guide us forward by saying the future is through the ancient.
The book begins with a table full of people when Bob was asked about Christian spirituality by a bundle of folks who were all over the religious and agnostic maps. His answer: All spiritualities are rooted in a story and it is the story of God in the way of Jesus Christ that gives to Christianity its true spirituality. It can’t be proven. It’s a story that can be told. So he did … and this book explains how that story shapes genuine Christian spirituality, an ancient future spirituality.
The themes of The Divine Embrace deal with the Crisis: how spirituality became separated from the divine embrace (of union with God). And it deals with the Challenge: returning spirituality to the divine embrace.

Comments read comments(26)
post a comment

posted November 26, 2007 at 8:02 am

Ancient-Future Time has been a very influential book in my life. I love the idea of walking with Christ and the Church throughout the year.

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 8:07 am

I have only the most fleeting acquaintance with Webber’s work and am very much looking forward to this series.

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 8:45 am

I have his worship library and two of the ancient-future texts.

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 9:34 am

I’m already 1/2 way through and love it. I’ve never read the Ancient-Future series, but will likely go back and read some (do you recommend them?).
Funny thing, I was going to email you , Scot, asking your thoughts on the book, b/c you are so into the ‘story’ of the gospel, and wondered your opinion on this book and the past series.
Thanks for walking through this book, Looking forward to reading your thoughts and dialogging with them.
If you’re reading this and wonder if it’s a worthwhile read – YES, pick it up – the 1/2 half is worth the price of the book.

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 9:41 am

I haven’t read this book but I am excited about your series. I read Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail and it resonated with many thoughts and conclusions I have reached.

report abuse

Howard Walters

posted November 26, 2007 at 9:55 am

I am 43 years old, and was raised in a small Baptist church in northwest Florida (a region humorously referred to as Lower Alabama by many natives there). Out in front of the church was a white sign with language that now, years later, I can still recite: “Fundamental, Independent, Evangelical, Pre-millenial, Dispensational, Bible Believing Church.” They didn’t actually say KJV Only on the sign, but if you thought to ask, you wouldn’t fit there anyway. This was a religious universe where you didn’t go to movies or listen to rock and roll (smoking was fine but beer was “of the devil”) and you prayed for “all those Catholics that were going to hell and didn’t know it.”
In my late 20s I began a journey, and only much later understood that it was the Gracious Father calling me to a living and loving relationship, and out of a language-based system of works and legalism and pride.
Along the path of my journey, I encountered Robert Webber and Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail. That book has been described many ways—I describe it as an oasis in a dry desert. God used this text to free my spirit to look and listen for the story of Jesus as it is truly told across many faiths, including Catholicism. While I currently worship in the Brethren community of the Church, I find love and fellowship across the broader Body, free from the distractions of denominationalism. Webber is one of those men I wish I could have met or heard in person–but will look forward to asking him a few questions when I see him again (on one side or other or neither of the millenium :):).

report abuse

Michelle Van Loon

posted November 26, 2007 at 10:08 am

I read Webber’s “Worship Is A Verb” when it first released, and it rocked my world. It wasn’t the subject matter of the book as much as it was that Webber’s writing challenged my my pet (read: narrow) definitions and categories about church life and practice.

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 10:11 am

One thing I know is that is we as Christians will never begin to understand the love and grace of God. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be seperate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39. I pray and hope that we as Christians we be able to come together and get alone and set our differences aside and know just how much we are loved by God and just how much deep His love is and wide grace is and runs. Let all the minister memorize and live out 1st John. Love for all the brothers which would include all men and churches. Jesus prayer in John 17 was for us to ONE as He and God are ONE. It is up to us to answer that prayer. Can we do that? Can we answer that prayer? God help us to answer that prayer. God help us to understand your love and grace. Help us to set our differences aside and worship you. Let Jesus be our creed as Scot mentions on this blog. Jesus Creed. God I pray that all churches be ONE.

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 10:14 am

I attended a worship planning and leadership conference that he led in the late 90’s. It was awesome – and it opened my eyes to his writings, which I have come to love. I just started reading this book about a week ago, and I’m excited that, for once, I have the right book at the right time to keep up with the series!
I also spent many years relying on his Encyclopedia series when I was working in mega-church-land as a Pastor of Worship Arts – really excellent resource for people who don’t have a liturgical background.

report abuse

Tom Hein

posted November 26, 2007 at 10:25 am

I heard Webber speak twenty years ago at Denver Seminary. Good stuff, but I never followed up with it much. I’m looking forward to your thoughts. I appreciate the book review series that you do. It introduces me to books I might not otherwise take the time to think about.

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 10:28 am

awesome! ordering my copy now.

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 11:09 am

I’ve been most impacted by Ancient Future Faith. Coming out of an American Restoration Movement church, it was interesting to hear Webber’s perspective that going forward was so attached to looking back. Although the Restoration Movement has only done that with a limited perspective, much of what Webber wrote resonated with things I’d heard growing up.

report abuse

Greg Drummond

posted November 26, 2007 at 11:40 am

I’m still working my way through the Younger Evangelicals. It’s like I’m sitting in a seminary class. This is a hearty book. Gotta love Webber’s charts though!

report abuse

Mark Farmer

posted November 26, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Ancient-Future Faith was a pivotal book for me back in 2000. I was becoming aware that much Evangelical Christianity functioned as an ideology. This book gave me the tools, including its excellent introduction to postmodernism, to understand what I had been observing and to find a way forward in terms of narrative. I am also grateful for this book’s introduction to Christus Victor theology, which led to me reading of Gustav Aulen. In a word, AFF got me started on my journey of redefining my faith in a postmodern world.

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 4:13 pm

Is unity possible?

report abuse

Mark E

posted November 26, 2007 at 4:38 pm

I’ve read 2 of the ancient-future books. Skimmed Worship is a Verb. Loved The Younger Evangelicals. I’ve also read several articles and essays. The first book by Webber that really got me was Worship Old and New. I loved the detail and the serious thought that he put into the book (and his other books).
However, I do think that his use of “blended” worship brought confusion for many in my faith tradition.
I noticed on Amazon that they have an Ancient Future Worship book to be released in April 2008. I’m guessing this was a book that he finished before his death. Scot, do you know the story on this? The description looks interesting.
In Christ,
Mark E

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 6:51 pm

Having been “evangelized” away from a liturgical church in the mid-70’s, Webber’s “Common Roots” was instrumental in helping me reconcile my various church experiences, as was Peter Gilquist’s “The Physical Side of Being Spiritual” and the text of the original “Chicago Call.” In my opinion, not enough people are familiar with Webber’s work.
I look forward to the rest of this series.

report abuse

Dana Ames

posted November 26, 2007 at 7:03 pm

“Ancient Future Faith” was very significant for me in several areas:
-Christus Victor
-paradigms and how they change (or don’t)
-recovering the history of the church
-drawing upon the church fathers and E. Orthodoxy
I am very grateful for Webber’s life and work and was saddened at his passing.

report abuse


posted November 26, 2007 at 7:05 pm

I’m pretty certain I have a book of essays on The Chicago Declaration edited by Robert Webber, somewhere in deep storage. That was helpful on the social side of evangelicalism. However, the book that (thankfully!) turned me inside out was one he wrote on Christianity and culture in the late 1970s – back in the days when some of the first books exploring culture and contextualization were finding their way into print. I didn’t realize at the time that I was already on course to become a cultural systems interpreter and futurist, and Webber’s approach gave me a far more comprehensive framework than anything else I’d found. It helped me interpret my own intercultural nature and why I always desired something beyond what I found in any one approach to being church. That slim volume gave me relief that I wasn’t crazy for wanting a more comprehensive and integrative form of discipleship, and it gave me hope that a dynamic balance was indeed possible if I/we would pursue a Christo-centric model of engaging culture.
In about 2000, Webber led an ancient-future worship conference at the school I worked at, and I asked him if he would sign my book. He graciously agreed, and I whipped out my 1979 hardcover first edition of that special book: *The Secular Saint.* He gasped, laughed, and scribbled inside, “This is a REALLY old book!” It’s wonderful to see on Amazon that it’s available in print again. In usual fashion, he gives an elegant, balanced, and readable reconfiguration of similar concepts to Niebuhr’s *Christ and Culture* – “the” book on culture that everybody seems to quote, but one wonders how many of the quoters have actually read it – or, if we did, we actually understood it …
But wasn’t that one of the best of Christ’s gifts to the Kingdom through Robert Webber? He took deep, complex, paradoxical material, and put it together in ways that really sing. He did the same with *The Younger Evangelicals,* the book I consider the best for really getting it on how paradigms affect methodologies, and why the traditional and pragmatic paradigms of our shared past do not fit well in the world of our future.
I’m looking forward to your reviews, and thank you for sharing his legacy and yours by doing that for us …

report abuse

Dana Ames

posted November 26, 2007 at 7:06 pm

I’m looking forward to hearing his thoughts, mediated by you, on union with God. Seems to me that it is totally missing from Protestant thought- but scripture is shot through with it.

report abuse

L.L. Barkat

posted November 26, 2007 at 9:17 pm

Interesting thought that all spiritualities are rooted in a story. You kind of slipped that in right before talking specifically about the Christian story. I wonder about this idea that all spiritualities are rooted in a story. Is it possible for spirituality to be rooted in something else… mathematics, or music, or art?

report abuse


posted November 27, 2007 at 9:07 am

to preacherman (8) and (15).

report abuse


posted November 27, 2007 at 9:17 am

to preacherman #(8) and (15)
just because we don’t manifest one, holy, catholic, church doesn’t mean it isn’t true
we are coming into a new time when we will spiritually practice ingathering(unity). as we have experientially dealt with salvation and being filled with the spirit over our history.
how do i know this…it is the spiritual side of the three old testamaent festivals all must attend.

report abuse


posted November 27, 2007 at 10:40 am

Thanks scott.

report abuse

Tom Grosh

posted November 28, 2007 at 8:58 am

I’m not sure how I first came across Webber, but I’m currently using ‘Ancient-Future Time’ as a framework for a new devotionally oriented Adult Elective at the local assembly of which I am a part. ‘Drawing Close to Our First Love’ begins this Sunday, moving through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Jesus’ ministry, and the beginning of Lent. I’m using ‘Watch for the Light’ followed by ‘Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent’ for the ‘content.’
I particularly find his tables helpful starting with Table 1: Christian-Year Spirituality at a Glance and Table 2: A Summary of Christian Year Spirituality which set the pattern for the Tables specific to the Spirituality of the given Church season.

report abuse

Custom ID Cards

posted July 29, 2014 at 10:06 pm

What a great article!

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog ...

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the ...

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: ...

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's ...

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or ...

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.