We can barely overstate the historic significance of the Sermon on the Mount for Christian ethics. Since the day Matthew recorded this remarkable compendium of Jesus' teachings, these words have had an enduring influence on how we live and what we believe.
Glen Stassen is well known for his two creative books on "just peacemaking." In the tradition of Stanley Hauerwas or perhaps Lesslie Newbigin, he now provides a contemporary discussion of Jesus' sermon for modern readers. However, this is not a book of homilies. It is a plea, firmly supported by skilled exegesis and scholarship, for the ethics of the sermon to be lived out. "The Ten Commandments are about God's deliverance of the vulnerable from powerful forces that threaten them," Stassen writes. "They are also about God's command to us to participate in delivering those who are vulnerable."
Stassen follows the plausible assumption that the theology of Isaiah is behind Jesus' teaching in the sermon. He urges us to think with Jesus through the prophet's views. As in David Gushee and Stassen's earlier volume, Kingdom Ethics (2003), Living the Sermon on the Mount highlights at a more popular level how the sermon teaches in "triads": Traditional righteousness is described, a moral diagnosis is given, and a transforming initiative is offered. In Stassen's view, the Lord's Prayer rests at the literary heart of the sermon, providing an organizing center, with themes echoed in the surrounding texts.
Lively and compelling, this book will stimulate personal reflection and countless sermons.
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Living the Sermon on the Mount is available from ChristianBook.com and other retailers.
Jossey-Bass' site has excerpts from the book.
Glen Stassen's page at Fuller Theological Seminary has resources on his work.
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