IVP - Behind the Books - Blurbmania: The Next Evangelicalism and Deep Church

April 15, 2009

Blurbmania: The Next Evangelicalism and Deep Church

One of the necessary parts of the publishing process is soliciting endorsements for new books. Sometimes authors do it directly, and other times the publisher approaches potential endorsers on their behalf. There’s never-ending debate on whether or not endorsements ultimately make much of a difference, but I am often excited by what endorsers say about our books.

Here are a couple cases in point, for two books assessing the state of the evangelical church in North America. Soong-Chan Rah’s The Next Evangelicalism recently came in from the printer. Just as we were finalizing the cover copy, we got this endorsement:

“One of the most important changes now going on in American—and indeed world—religion is the profound transformation of evangelicalism, a movement which encompasses hundreds of millions of people. This book is the best and most balanced treatment of the subject now available. It is well researched, clearly written and comprehensive.” —Harvey Cox, Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard University, and author of When Jesus Came to Harvard

Pretty high praise, from someone who doesn’t often blurb books from evangelical publishers. I literally said “Stop the presses!” and made room on the back cover for Cox’s blurb.

The title The Next Evangelicalism is obviously a nod to Philip Jenkins’s landmark The Next Christendom, so we were happy when Jenkins said of Rah’s book, “Soong-Chan Rah explores the impact of ethnic and geographic shifts on the present and future state of evangelicalism. He gives us fair warning that parts of his heartfelt book are ‘intended to provoke,’ and they will. But that doesn’t stop his book from being timely, thoughtful and very rewarding.”

And we’re getting some very positive early blurbs for Jim Belcher’s forthcoming Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional. Jim is in a unique location as having been around during the early “Gen X” ministry days of the mid-90s that eventually morphed into what is now called the emerging church. Since then he has gone on to plant and pastor a Reformed PCA church. Can you be both emerging and traditional? Jim goes beyond both worlds and goes deep. Jim’s book is getting praise from all sides as a constructive proposal for the future of the church:

“Jim Belcher shows that we don’t have to choose between orthodox evangelical doctrine on the one hand, and cultural engagement, creativity and commitment to social justice on the other. This is an important book.” —Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

“Deep Church is a narrative of one man’s journey of spiritual discovery involving at core a search for a place to stand. Whether you can fully agree with Jim’s findings or not, you will find this book to be an accessible, well-articulated, deeply personal and (thankfully) theologically irenic apologetic for the emerging church.” —Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways, and founder of Forge Mission Training Network and Shapevine.com

“Working out his ideas in the crucible of pastoral ministry, Jim Belcher proposes fascinating new ways to arbitrate today’s disputes by appealing to the Great Tradition. Read it and learn how your church can go deeper.” —Collin Hansen, editor-at-large, Christianity Today, and author of Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists

Deep Church is the book we need—it’s a genuine third way. Jim Belcher is poised like no other to evaluate the emerging movement: he knows theology, he loves the church, he cares about twentysomethings, he knows the entire emerging movement, and he remains faithful to theological orthodoxy. Most of all, Deep Church avoids the clamor for extremes. There are only two or three really good books about the emerging movement, and this is the best analysis I’ve seen.” —Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University

Posted by Al Hsu at April 15, 2009 1:29 PM Bookmark and Share


Yes, endorsements do sometimes make a difference. As a church librarian at an Evangelical Presbyterian Church, I often look at the endorsements before buying a book. If I don't know the author's affiliations and theology, endorsements help me assess whether the book if a fit for our library.

Comment by: Carol at April 24, 2009 6:57 PM

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