Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power [NOOK Book]


2014 Midwest Publishing Association Award of Excellence (General Trade) 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 Honorable Mention (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 ...
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Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power

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2014 Midwest Publishing Association Award of Excellence (General Trade) 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 Honorable Mention (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
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.)
John Wilson
"If this book hadn't been by Andy Crouch, I wouldn't have read it. A book on power? No thanks. But a book on power by Andy Crouch? Yes, I'll give it a try, maybe a bit reluctantly. Glad I did. (So much so that I started over immediately and read it a second time.)
Charles Scriven
"Readers will find plenty of insight and inspiration here. As a journalist, Crouch places high value on clarity of style and usefulness for everyday life. He brings in stories from his personal life and from popular culture that sustain interest and shed important light. And he illuminates his theme through multipage explorations of key biblical passages, which will be helpful to readers with preaching responsibilities. Crouch's evangelical perspective bears provocatively on a conversation pertinent to everyone."
James K.A. Smith
"A good book prompts you to ask questions you wouldn't have otherwise. A great book embeds some of those in your gut so that you can't shake them for a while. On that score, Playing God is a great book. It provoked nagging questions I haven't been able to shake (or answer!). . . . Playing God's proclamation of the good news about power is crucial and timely—an antidote to both our penchant to seize power exclusively as well as our allergy to assume responsibility."
Bill Easum
"Playing God is an excellent resource for pastors who are afraid to use the power at their disposal. Crouch contrasts God-given power that brings light, hope and goodness to the world with a different kind of authority: that which corrupts and can be abused."
Tim Hoiland
"In the end, power is for human flourishing, and it takes the shape of the cross. As Crouch says, '. . . We are meant to pour out our power fearlessly, spend our privilege recklessly, and leave our status in the dust of our headlong pursuit of love,' like Christ, who loved us and gave himself up for us. That is our calling. That is what it means to play God in the truest sense."
Jenell Paris
"Playing God will be an important resource for undergraduate and graduate classes on leadership, reconciliation, and service. . . . It will also be helpful for organizational leaders in CCCU schools, helping them to think about how they view power and how their institutions organize the flow of power. Crouch is an evangelical thought leader, offering wise and intelligent advice here for Christians engaging a rapidly changing society and world."
Tyler Wigg-Stevenson
"Playing God is an audacious, admirable work. Crouch's first book, Culture Making, aspired at nothing less than offering an alternative to Reinhold Neibuhr's seminal Christ and Culture. But the sequel is even bolder in targeting the philosophical giants Michel Foucault and Friedrich Nietzche, whose influence on the modern world defies superlatives. Crouch's contention is that the philosophers are right that power is everywhere—but perversely wrong in seeing it as essential coercive and violent. . . . Per Crouch, those called to redeemed lives, freed by the promise of resurrection from the prison of seeking status, can regard their power as a very good gift to be given away for the flourishing of all."
M. G. Hager
"The timeliest aspect of Playing God is its attention to social justice and how American Christians both empower and dispossess people around the world in attempts to help them. Rather than blindly striking at world ills, Crouch encourages us to understand idolatry and injustices as the negative consequences of ill-used power. If we 'play god' by swooping in and saving the day, we make ourselves into idols, rather than restoring the image-bearing capabilities of the people we seek to help. . . . There is something in Playing God both for those who are sensitive about their privilege and for those who feel hopeless to change anything. The reality is somewhere in the middle, and Playing God sets the stage for action, challenging us to acknowledge and use our power to increase mankind's capacity for image bearing."
Church Libraries
"Crouch is insightful and backs up his anecdotal and social discussions of power with biblical examples . . . . This is worthwhile reading for anyone looking to reevaluate power and its wordly place within God's kingdom."
Light Magazine
"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."
Byron Borger
"Playing God is an essential book for thoughtful Christians, a true gift, a must-read. I am thankful that God has graced Andy Crouch with the power of words, with the gift of gab, with the ability to report and to ruminate. Perhaps it is enough to say this: this book will help you understand our world and be God's image bearers with Christ-like fruitfulness. We commend it to you as it is surely one of the most important books we've seen in years."
Fitz Green
"Crouch helps us place power within the overall biblical story, beginning not at the fall but at creation. By doing so we discover that power is a gift, rooted in creation and tied to our calling (or 'vocation') to bear God's image in the world."
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: 9780830884360
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 9/9/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 612,713
  • File size: 622 KB

Meet the Author

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

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