Augsburg Fortress

Open: Unorthodox Thoughts on God and Community

Open: Unorthodox Thoughts on God and Community

In Open, Brad Braxton boldly articulates an open theology--progressive approaches that promote unorthodox theological reflection and the creation of inclusive communities. Despite attempts by many right-wing politicians and conservative Christians to curtail diverse religious and cultural expressions, an open embrace of pluralism enhances Christianity's capacity to foster healing, hope, and restorative justice. Thus, Christian communities should be audaciously open about being open.

Attempts to box in God diminish us spiritually and render us prone to small-mindedness and mean-spiritedness. Certain Christians function as if God cannot withstand robust engagement with the complexities of a diverse world. God does not need to be protected by religious fence-building and cultural gatekeeping. To honor an open God who delights in diversity, we should create open communities committed to radically inclusive love.

This book engages serious, even controversial, topics including Jesus's identity, reparations for slavery, LGBTQ equality, the Black Lives Matter movement, warfare and non-violence, environmental justice, and interreligious collaboration. Insisting that there is room for all, an open theology empowers us to create broad spaces where people from diverse backgrounds with divergent beliefs can peacefully probe their differences and celebrate their similarities for the sake of a better world.

If you are tired of closed-minded religion that sows division and hatred, open this book! If you are searching for compassionate spirituality that promotes inclusion and justice, open this book! Here you will find an open theology--creative thinking about God and courageous practices for building diverse communities through radically inclusive love.

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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506488813
  • eBook ISBN 9781506488820
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 251
  • Publication Date April 4, 2023


"This book is an invitation to open oneself up for a journey of transformation. With unapologetic clarity, Braxton invokes the power of the Spirit, breath of God, and Nommo, the spoken word, to usher in a radical hermeneutic on Christian theopraxis. Leveling the playing field by intent and example, Braxton speaks to the diversity of our circumstances, callings, and commitments to a communion with God that charts a new course for ecumenical, interfaith, and human engagement. Praise for Open--'gonna trouble the water.'"

Rev. Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, general secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference

"Open is a compelling blend of memoir, penetrating biblical analysis, and pragmatic advice for scholars, seminarians, grassroots leaders, and ministers interested in social justice work within a transgressive theological model. Braxton dives into historical abuses and misuses of Scripture and uncovers the historical and cultural resources needed to build progressive interfaith organizations and theologically inclusive congregations."

Dr. Terrence Johnson, professor of African American religious studies, Harvard Divinity School

"In this intriguing collection of essays, Rev. Dr. Brad Braxton, biblical scholar, gospel preacher, and social justice advocate, explores the unorthodox orthodoxy of progressivism as an expansive vision of the Jesus story. Chapters explore classic Christian themes including justification, sanctification, sacraments, and community as entry points for a grace-filled openness inside and outside the church. It is a powerful study of and for our times."

Dr. Bill J. Leonard, professor of divinity emeritus, Wake Forest University

"This thrilling read is a compelling application of Christian thought rooted in theology, biblical analysis, and real-world experiences that serves as a firmly rooted and unapologetic foundation for progressive reflection and action. It's a call for critical engagement of religious, cultural, and academic institutions to boldly speak amid the deafening din of hurtful and stagnant doctrine."

Rev. Dr. Derrick McQueen, pastor, St. James Presbyterian Church, Harlem, New York, and assistant director, CARSS at Columbia University

"Like an open tomb that extends into an open future, Brad Braxton reveals the liberating and life-giving present and future of God as a capacious and gracious broad meadow. Rooted in the tradition of the unknown black bards, Braxton presses the church to be open like the enslaved singing seers and preach, 'There's room for many-a more.' If you are finished with the old fences of theology and yearn for a new promised land of humanity, this book is for you!"

Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel and associate professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School; author of Becoming Human: The Holy Spirit and the Rhetoric of Race

"Dr. Brad Braxton invites us to imagine and co-create a world in which religion nurtures the belonging of everyone, especially those who have traditionally found the doors of the church/mosque/synagogue barred and the windows latched. His invitation is audacious and unapologetic, but it is not undemanding. Dr. Braxton challenges us to look at our structures, our assumptions, and our narrow places with intellectual rigor and courage. Generously and lovingly, he offers his own life stories to accompany us as we do so."

Rabbi Elissa Sachs-Kohen, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation

"Only Dr. Brad Braxton would have the audaciousness and capacity to offer Christendom and the world a book that discusses pluralism, reparations, sex talk, and the environment with heft and without hesitation. This is the book that seminary professors, seminary students, clergy, and laity must read if they want to better understand hermeneutics, homiletics, biblical studies, and the church of the twenty-first century."

Rev. Dr. Martha Simmons, coauthor of Preaching with Sacred Fire: African American Sermons from 1750 to the Present