Bishop Willimon’s new book, Incarnation: the Surprising Overlap of Heaven and Earth


The Surprising Overlap of Heaven & Earth

By William H. Willimon Published 11/2013

Heaven and earth interlock in the person of Jesus, a Jew from Nazareth. Jesus defies simplistic, effortless, undemanding explications. To be sure, Jesus often communicated his truth in simple, homely, direct ways, but his truth was anything but apparent and undemanding in the living.Common people heard Jesus gladly, not all, but enough to keep the government nervous, only to find that the simple truth Jesus taught, the life he lived, and the death he died complicated their settled and secure ideas about reality.The gospels are full of folk who confidently knew what was what–until they met Jesus. Jesus provoked an intellectual crisis in just about everybody. Their response was not, “Wow, I’ve just seen the Son of God,” but rather, “Who is this?” -from the Introduction The church uses the concept of “Incarnation,” (from the Latin word for “in the flesh”) to help us understand that Jesus Christ is both divine and human. The Incarnation is the grand crescendo of our reflection upon the mystery that Christ is the full revelation of God; not only one who talks about God but the one who speaks for and acts as God, one who is God. About the Series: Belief Matters is a series of easy-to-understand books designed to show that by thinking more clearly about faith, persons can love God more fully, live with confidence, and change the world. Conversational in tone, these books are reflections on major theological topics and are suitable for individual or group study.



“We live in a time of wondrous invention, technological change and in the midst of a communication revolution.There is more information and ideas available to us everyday than any of us could take in over a lifetime. Some of these ideas are well crafted while others are as simple as a status update. And, so it is with spirituality: the options and perspectives are seemingly endless. There is the ‘the here and now’ perspective; ‘the now and later’ promise; ‘the up and out’ passion; ‘the down and in’ provocation. It can be quite overwhelming trying to live as a spiritual person. Will Williamon give us a gift with Incarnation in that he leaves nothing out. He gives light to a path of God and humanity in the beautiful dance of life. Will opens fresh an ancient story that has found rhyme with the human passion in every age and is especially fitting for the seekers and pilgrims.”–Doug Pagitt, Author, Pastor, Goodness Initiator,
Will Willimon has given us a fine gift: a thoughtful and provocative look at the Incarnation. At the core of this narrative, and at the center of this book, is the commanding figure of Jesus, once again overthrowing expectations, defying glib explanations, calling followers, forging a radically new community. If you are looking for a soothing devotional manual, don’t read this book, because this is instead a whitewater, wind-in-the-face adventure of the spirit.
— Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

About the Author

Feeling most at home behind a pulpit, Bishop William H. Willimon’s deepest calling is to be a preacher and truth-teller of Jesus Christ. Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke University Divinity School and retired Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, after serving for 20 years as faculty member and Dean of the Chapel at Duke University. He continues to give lectures and teach at universities around the world. Willimon earned a doctoral degree from Emory University and has been honored with 13 additional doctorates.A study by the Pulpit and Pew Research Center found that Willimon is one of the most widely read authors among mainline Protestant pastors. An international survey conducted by Baylor University named him one of the “Twelve Most Effective Preachers” in the English-speaking world. With over a million copies of more than 60 books sold, his popularity is undeniable.

Published by Abingdon Press in print and electronically.

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