The Home of God

A Brief Story of Everything

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Pub Date 27 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 26 Aug 2022

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Description

We live in the midst of a crisis of home. It is evident in the massive uprooting and migration of millions across the globe, in the anxious nationalism awaiting immigrants in their destinations, in the unhoused populations in wealthy cities, in the fractured households of families, and in the worldwide destruction of habitats and international struggles for dominance. It is evident, perhaps more quietly but just as truly, in the aching sense that there is nowhere we truly belong.

In this moment, the Christian faith has been disappointingly inept in its response. We need a better witness to the God who created, loves, and reconciles this world, who comes to dwell among us.

This book tells the "story of everything" in which God creates the world as the home for humans and for God in communion with God's creatures. The authors render the story of creation, redemption, and consummation through the lens of God's homemaking work and show the theological fruit of telling the story this way. The result is a vision that can inspire creative Christian living in our various homes today in faithfulness to God's ongoing work.

We live in the midst of a crisis of home. It is evident in the massive uprooting and migration of millions across the globe, in the anxious nationalism awaiting immigrants in their destinations, in...


Advance Praise

“Most modern Christians imagine that the gospel is about God rescuing ‘souls’ from this world to go and live with him somewhere else. The Bible, however, insists that God wants to come and make his home with us—and that he has launched this project through Jesus and the Spirit. The present book, a shining example of systematic theologians actually reading the Bible instead of plundering it for texts to redeploy within other narratives, argues its case through detailed, suggestive exegesis of three central biblical texts (Exodus, John, and Revelation). The result is a vision that is neither Augustine’s spiritualized focus on God alone nor Hegel’s dangerous elision of God and the world but a rich vision of rescued and restored human beings living with joyful purpose within a gloriously renewed creation. A remarkable book!”—N. T. Wright, former Bishop of Durham; research professor of New Testament and early Christianity, St. Andrews; senior research fellow, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford

“Centered on readings of Exodus and John, Volf and McAnally-Linz’s book gives us a ‘story of everything’ as the story of God’s making God’s home on earth. It is an unusual kind of systematic theology but a compelling one. It is scripturally rich and imaginatively engaging, learned and fresh—it will be widely appreciated.”—Karen Kilby, Bede Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Durham

“It is a treat to read the Bible with these systematic theologians! Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz have discovered the ‘red thread’ in the story of the biblical writings: the ever-deeper coming of God to the world. The goal in the Old and New Testament writings is for the world to become a ‘home of God.’ The indwelling of God is the future of the earth, indeed of the whole cosmos. This is the exact opposite of the modern destruction of the earth and of life. This is the ‘ecology’ of God.”—Jürgen Moltmann, University of Tübingen

“Most modern Christians imagine that the gospel is about God rescuing ‘souls’ from this world to go and live with him somewhere else. The Bible, however, insists that God wants to come and make his...


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Featured Reviews

Is it possible to have a favorite theologian?

Of course it is.

My love for the work of Miroslav Volf likely began at the same point it began for many individuals familiar with his work - with 1996's "Exclusion and Embrace," a masterpiece (in my opinion) acknowledged by Christianity Today as one of the 100 Most Important Religious Books of the 20th century.

"Exclusion and Embrace" changed my life. As a survivor of significant trauma and one who lives with significant disabilities, I've long had a complex, challenged relationship with organized religion and Volf's ability to write and lecture about the complexities of life, relationship, trauma, and the practicalities of daily living has helped me profoundly in academic, practical, theological, and deeply personal ways.

This has continued over the years with a variety of other works both written and spoken with "End of Memory" particularly impacting my life as a person of faith.

With "The Home of God: A Brief Story of Everything," a book that Volf co-writes with Ryan McAnnally-Linz, Volf creates an account of the story of creation, redemption, and consummation through the lens of God's homemaking work. "The Home of God" shows the theological fruit of telling the story this way.

For those familiar with Volf's writing, it will be unsurprising that "The Home of God" has a strong academic tone to it. Volf's exegesis of scripture has always been comprehensive yet intimately woven into the fabric of his discussions. Nearly 1/3 of "The Home of God" is comprised of Volf's sources for the book and the research, which I imagine comes naturally for Volf, is exhaustive and, at least for this markedly less learned Christian, sometimes downright exhausting.

"The Home of God" is a book that required I take it in smaller pieces, absorbing the knowledge yet also absorbing the applicability of the knowledge. Volf, as is always true, doesn't simply share knowledge for the sake of sharing knowledge but also applies that knowledge to Christian living. As I wound down my reading of "The Home of God," I chuckled to myself "He wasn't kidding. This really is a brief story of everything."

Volf believes we need a better witness to the God who created, loves, and reconciles this world, who comes to dwell among us and with "The Home of God" he sets out to theologically and scripturally validate this belief. A systematic theology with flexible boundaries as to what systematic theology means, "The Home of God" particularly dwells within Exodus and John and shares what Jurgen Moltmann calls the "ecology of God." (As a side note, like Volf I am similarly inspired by Moltmann).

It is arguable, I suppose, that "The Home of God" struggles at times to find a balance between academic Volf/McAnnally-Linz and the more literary prose that often flows out of the academics. Truthfully, I somewhat leaned toward a 4-star rating as this occasional imbalance at times impacted my reading experience of "The Home of God."

Yet, time and again as I sat down to write this review and reflection I found myself vividly feeling the words and ideas and beliefs and lessons unfolding in "The Home of God." I found myself returning to Volf's resources here and looking up and learning more. I found myself reflecting upon the applicability of these stories and realizing how immersed in them I'd become. While I don't think, necessarily, that the casual theologian will find "The Home of God" a welcoming read, for those familiar with theological concepts and terminology this is an insightful, well-informed, and absolutely inspirational theological work.

As I began winding down my time with "The Home of God," I began connecting this work to Volf's other works and I began realizing that when I embrace this idea of the indwelling of God within this earth and within our lives that I can also then imagine a God intent on existing within our human experiences whether that be disability or trauma or any other subject that Volf has approached in his work. There is a thread that ties it all together and as I sit here thinking about it I can't help but weep.

Indeed, Miroslav Volf is one of the very few theologians who can stimulate me intellectually and bring me to tears.

He's done it once again.

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This is the first book that I have read by Miroslav Volf and I will be back to read more. In "The Home of God", Volf co-writes with Ryan McAnnally-Linz. "The Home of God" argues that "Home" is the central, unifying telos of the Biblical narrative. The writers draw out that many of us have a vague but deep and demanding desire for the peaceful contentment of belonging. Volf and McAnnally-Lin show from the arc of the scriptural narrative that the Christian faith presents a vision of creation becoming complete and whole as God indwells it - becoming both the home of God and the home of his creatures. The writers make build their case from an exposition of three key biblical texts Exodus, John, and Revelation. I was particularly impacted by the chapters on Revelation and the vision of the Great God who shares his glory with his creatures.

I have greatly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to all ministers, theological students and all those who think and dream of an enduring "home" that is not poisoned by the oppression of Babylon!

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