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Willie James Jennings: 5 picks

Essential theology books of the past 25 years

Sallie McFague, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology. Published in 1993, this book showcases a pivotal moment in American theology's engagement with ecological issues. It poses a number of challenges to traditional ways of theologizing the relation of God to the world while taking very seriously the ecological implications of the way that relation has been articulated. It continues to be a text that sets the terms for theological discussion about nature and the environment.

John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason. First published in 1990, this book of philosophical theology inaugurated the movement loosely known as radical orthodoxy. On the one hand, Milbank's text continues the philosophical and critical-theory critiques of sociological knowledge and visions of secular existence; on the other, it builds on the cultural-­linguistic turn in theology and philosophy and on the reassertion of tradition-based ethical and theological reflection. Like the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas, Mil­bank's text draws an appealing portrait of social-intellectual holism rooted in Catholic thought and life.

Eugene F. Rogers, Sexuality and the Christian Body: Their Way into the Triune God. Published in 1999, this groundbreaking book draws contemporary insights about the doctrine of the triune identity as well as orthodox sensibilities directly into discussions about sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. Rogers offered one of the most important critical readings of Barth's views on gender and one of the most sophisticated treatments of a number of crucial theological issues in relation to the body.

Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Published in 1996, this book shifted the terms of debate in liberationist thought from the identities of the oppressed and the oppressor to the nature of identity and otherness. Volf's text is a significant engagement with issues of universality, particularity and heterogeneity in ethics, philosophy and political theory, bringing theological conversations on these matters toward the door of postcolonial studies.

Delores S. Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk. Published in 1993, this book presented a watershed moment in the development not only of womanist theology but also in American theology and biblical studies. Williams brilliantly captures and clarifies a number of crucial themes of race, identity and experience while advancing conversations in liberationist biblical hermeneutics and theology with her innovative reading of Hagar and her powerful critique of atonement theories.

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