The church's holy, subversive possessions

Ben Dueholm offers a humble apologetics—of faithful actions, not beliefs.

What does the church offer the world these days? The answer, in Benjamin Dueholm’s estimation, is what it has always offered: a sacred word, baptism, Eucharist, forgiveness, ministry, worship, and a cross-shaped lens through which to view it all. These are the “holy possessions” of the church. Each is an act of resistance in a world that tempts us to live as inhumane and godless people. These seven possessions are what we’ve got to work with and, according to Dueholm, it has always been so.

Sacred Signposts reads like Paul Woodruff’s Reverence, a collection of personal stories and deep ruminations on a topic that cannot be addressed head-on. A direct treatment would just be a collision. By writing about (or, more accurately, around) each practice, Dueholm reveals the shape, depth, and necessity of each. His writing is careful but not timid. Each chapter builds upon the previous one, culminating with the call to sacrificial living in “The Cross,” a topic which is both beautiful and biting, breaking readers open to the fragile power of the Christian life on which these practices leave their mark.

Filled with wit and wisdom, honesty and humility, the book does what its subtitle suggests: it resists. It resists the temptation to be preachy and instead chooses a more poetic route. The subversive nature of our holy possessions can only be approached through subversive writing. Dueholm takes up that challenge, weaving the brilliance of Augustine and Bon­hoeffer alongside that of his children, to reveal the meaning of Christian practices.