Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power

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2014 Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year ("Also Recommended," Leadership)

ForeWord 2013 Book of the Year Award Finalist (Adult Nonfiction, Religion)

Power corrupts?as we've seen time and time again. People too often abuse their power and play god in the lives of others. Shady politicians, corrupt executives and ego-filled media stars have ...

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Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power

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Overview

Granted the Digital Book World QED seal for quality in ebook design

2014 Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year ("Also Recommended," Leadership)

ForeWord 2013 Book of the Year Award Finalist (Adult Nonfiction, Religion)

Power corrupts—as we've seen time and time again. People too often abuse their power and play god in the lives of others. Shady politicians, corrupt executives and ego-filled media stars have made us suspicious of those who wield influence and authority. They too often breed injustice by participating in what the Bible calls idolatry.

Yet power is also the means by which we bring life, create possibilities, offer hope and make human flourishing possible. This is "playing god" as it is meant to be. If we are to do God's work—fight injustice, bring peace, create beauty and allow the image of God to thrive in those around us—how are we to do these things if not by power?

With his trademark clear-headed analysis, Andy Crouch unpacks the dynamics of power that either can make human flourishing possible or can destroy the image of God in people. While the effects of power are often very evident, he uncovers why power is frequently hidden. He considers not just its personal side but the important ways power develops and resides in institutions.

Throughout Crouch offers fresh insights from key biblical passages, demonstrating how Scripture calls us to discipline our power. Wielding power need not distort us or others, but instead can be stewarded well.

An essential book for all who would influence their world for the good.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/14/2013
The executive editor of the magazine Christianity Today follows his groundbreaking book, Culture Making, with a study on the idea of power and how it drives our relationships and lives. If our understanding of the term “power” is shaped by the world’s definition, which often carries a negative connotation, we will fail to recognize that it was intended to be a gift from God to help us make something of the world. Broken into four parts focusing on biblical stories about the creation of power and where it will lead, the book also offers personal experiences and examples from modern culture to show that power, as we think of it today, isn’t how it originally was intended by its divine designer. How are power and idolatry related? What can we learn from powerful people in our business culture like Steve Jobs? How can a Christian in power be a good steward and use it to help solve injustice in the world? These are just a few of the questions that readers will ponder from Crouch’s deeply layered study. The wide-ranging allusions and references from the Cornell and BU grad who served as a campus minister at Harvard might lose readers who are less well-read. Agent: Kathryn Helmers, Creative Trust. (Nov.)
Scot McKnight
"In deft moves of integrating sound biblical theology with astute observations about culture, Andy Crouch wades into the immense topic of power--the powers, institutional power, cultural power, racial power--to offer the alternative Christian perception of power, a power that can be reshaped by the gospel about Jesus Christ, refashioned by love and reoriented by a new community called the church. In this book worldly power is deconstructed and replaced with a new kind of gospel power."
Gary A. Haugen
"Perhaps no question with such urgent life-and-death consequences is more poorly understood among Christians in our era than the stewardship of power; but gloriously, in Playing God, Andy Crouch provides the clarity we need in this once-in-a-generation work of sweeping theological and sociological depth. It is fresh, rigorous, profoundly helpful and a delight to read."
Soong-Chan Rah
"Andy Crouch presents an essential treatise on one of the most important yet undiscussed topics for the promotion of justice in American Christianity--the issue of power. The work of God's justice in the world requires an understanding of the dynamics of power. Crouch shines the light of Scripture on what could be a divisive topic. Playing God should spark this long overdue conversation."
Amy L. Sherman
"It's likely that most readers of this book will both possess more power than they realize and feel uncomfortable with the amount of it that they know they've got. This book holds keys to liberation. It illuminates that power is, foundationally, good. It offers 3D pictures of what power is for (flourishing) and what its right use looks like (creative image-bearing that expands our own and others' joyful 'meaning-making'). Crouch's Bible-saturated teaching frees us from guilt and guides us in the active, humble and, importantly, essential calling to steward our power, thus helping us avoid the equal dangers of abusing our power and neglecting it. Playing God is a wise, deeply insightful, imaginative work; by heeding its lessons, Christians will be far more fruitful in their efforts to advance Jesus' kingdom in our broken world."
Mary Andringa
"This is a thoughtful and compelling book about power. Thinking of power as a gift which is meant for flourishing gives the reader much to consider. Institutions are meant for flourishing. Therefore, leaders of institutions must ask the question about how they are using the power gifted to them. Are they image bearers of that power or god players? The author's biblical and personal stories help the reader work through these and many other great questions."
Russell D. Moore
"This book plowed through my heart, leaving idol shards everywhere in its path. Andy Crouch, one of Christianity's most compelling visionaries on culture, examines power and the ways we should harness it for human flourishing and the glory of God. The book will prompt you to rethink assumptions and perhaps to reset priorities. It is a 'powerful' read, in the right sense of that word."
Gabe Lyons
"Once again, Andy Crouch cuts to the heart of the matter by challenging us to take seriously the One whose image we bear. Playing God is a clear and compelling call for Christians to steward the kind of power that enables flourishing."
Brian Fikkert
"What do poverty, the cello, human trafficking, iPods, loan sharks, wine, the tower of Babel and the Olympics have in common? Crouch shows that all of these are expressions of power, God's unique gift to humanity. With unceasing eloquence, Crouch delivers a unique perspective on everyday life that opens readers' eyes to a whole new world of conflict, meaning and possibility. A truly transformative experience."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830837656
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 9/6/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 202,423
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Andy Crouch (M.Div., Boston University School of Theology) is executive editor of Christianity Today, where he was also executive producer of This Is Our City, a multiyear project featuring documentary video, reporting and essays about Christians seeking the flourishing of their cities. He served as executive producer for the documentary films Where Faith and Culture Meet and Round Trip. He also sits on the editorial board for Books & Culture and has been a columnist for Christianity Today.

His writing has appeared in several editions of The Best Christian Writing and The Best Spiritual Writing. He was editor-in-chief of re:generation quarterly and for ten years served as a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. He is a coauthor of The Church in Emerging Culture and a contributor to the Worship Team Handbook.

A classically trained musician who draws on pop, folk, rock, jazz and gospel, Crouch has also led musical worship for congregations of 5 to 20,000.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1 The Discovery of Power
Part 1: The Gift of Power: In the Beginning It Was Not So
Exploration: Genesis 1 - 2 - Original Power
2 Power Is a Gift
3 Idolatry
4 Injustice
A Note: Evangelism and Social Action
5 Icons
Exploration: John 2 - The Wedding Wine
Part 2: The Grip of Power: It Will Not Be So Among You
Exploration: Exodus 20 - The Ten Words
6 The Hiddenness of Power
7 Force, Coercion and Violence
8 The Lure of Privilege
Exploration: John 13 - Jesus, Power and Privilege
Part 3: Institutions and Creative Power: From Generation to Generation
9 The Gift of Institutions
10 Principalities, Powers and Broken Institutions
11 Becoming Trustees
Exploration: Philemon - The Peculiar Institution
Part 4: The End of Power: We Had to Celebrate
12 Disciplined Power
13 The Sabbath Ladder
14 The End of Power
Exploration: Luke 15 - Prodigal Power
Acknowledgments
Notes
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