Winter Book Club: For the Life of the World

Chad Steiner
Chad Steiner
Winter Book Club: <em>For the Life of the World</em>

The impetus of this book club comes from my growing curiosity and sense of wonderment about the future. Not the immediate future, nor even what we normally call the distant future, but the end of all things. What does God have in mind for the world he made? Is it something from which we are eventually whisked away to a disembodied eternity we call ‘heaven’? If so, what is the significance of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead? If not, and Jesus’ bodily resurrection indicates something about the life to come, then what does this mean for the way we should regard the materiality of our existence now?

Such questions are naturally motivated by various plain statements we find in the Bible, such as from Acts 3:19-21 (emphasis added):

Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,  20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,  21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

That God intends to restore all things, rather than to throw them away in exchange for other, newfangled things, seems to be clear. Consider in this light Revelation 21:5:

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Or perhaps the most well-known (and most mis-taken?) John 3:16 (emphasis added):

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

It is for the life of the world he made but which is broken—and not merely for the benefit of broken human souls within it—that God “gave his only Son.”

This is the thesis underwriting Schmemann’s development in For the Life of the World. If you’d like to join us to ponder it, please let me know by email at

There’s no cost except the price of the book, which you can find here or here.

Even if you weren’t able to make the first gathering, I hope you’ll feel welcome to join us! (See comments section below for venue.)

Reading Schedule (pagination according to the 1973 revised edition)

November 30: Preface, Chapter 1 - “The Life of the World” (pp. 7-22)

December 7: Chapter 2 - “The Eucharist” (pp. 23-46)

December 14: Chapter 3 - “The Time of Mission” (pp. 47-65)

January 4: Chapter 4 - “Of Water and the Spirit” (pp. 67-79)

January 11: Chapter 5 - “The Mystery of Love” (pp. 81-94)

January 18: Chapter 6 - “Trampling Down Death by Death” (pp. 95-106)

January 25: Chapter 7 - “And Ye Are Witnesses of These Things” (pp. 107-113)

February 1: Appendix 1 - “Worship in a Secular Age” (pp. 117-134)

February 8: Appendix 2 - “Sacrament and Symbol” (pp. 135-151)

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