MACON — On March 20, Florida pastor Terry Jones, ignoring thousands of Americans’ pleas, organized a Q’uran burning on American soil. Video taken at the burning filtered to Afghanistan, and on April 2, angry Afghans murdered 12 people at a United Nations compound in Mazar-I-Sharif to avenge the burning of their sacred scriptures.
This is the world stage that Dr. R. Kirby Godsey explores in his new book, Is God a Christian?, published by Mercer University Press. A compelling interfaith challenge for Christians, the book is written not as a scholar’s treatise, but with a believer’s pen. The book will be launched at a special free interfaith event at the Cox Capitol Theatre on Thursday, May 19.
In the preface of the book, Dr. Godsey, the former president and current chancellor of Mercer University, outlines the book’s purpose. “You and I and all our human companions from other races and ethnic groups are not abstractions and we do not come from theoretical places,” he writes. “We are flesh and blood, composing history on a small and rather inconsequential planet orbiting a small star in a galaxy adrift among thousands of others. So the future of religion is not a theological problem, it is a human problem. The very future of humankind is about nurturing new stories that will become the history of our future.”
Dr. Godsey is known as a man of courage and conviction. In 1996, his first book, When We Talk About God, Let’s Be Honest, sparked controversy – but also conversations – as mainstream Christians chose to study the book for its honest insights on faith, doubt, fear and grace. When some Baptist churches pulled funding from the University, Mercer trustees stood behind Dr. Godsey and the principles of academic and religious freedom.
In Is God a Christian?, Dr. Godsey introduces readers to a God who loves all of us more than each of our religions. The book probes how religion creates artificial boundaries separating people of faith and explores the wisdoms and challenges of seven world religions. Finally, he invites readers to create faithful conversations for peace. The book is a call to action for individual and small group study as well.
People beyond the Christian faith appreciate the importance of this book and the possibilities it presents for community conversations. Rabbi Larry Schlesinger of Macon’s Temple Beth Israel says, “Dr. Godsey rather masterfully leads the reader on an exceptional and insightful journey through the diversities of religious faith in human life and endeavor. Remarkably, he reveals along the way a commonality that exists between us.”
Imam Adam Fofana of the Islamic Center of Middle Georgia also applauds the book, saying it’s a “Great book! It opens the mind to God from a wider perspective.”
Both men will be featured speakers, along with Dr. Godsey, at the official book launch on May 19, at the Cox Capitol Theatre, 382 Second St., in Macon. The free event begins at 6 p.m. and is open to the public.
Among mainstream Christians, the growing interest in interfaith understanding is reshaping seminary curricula and igniting study groups and resources across the country. Dr. Ben Johnson of the Interfaith Community Institute in Atlanta commends Is God a Christian? as follows: “In this age of the Internet, cell phone, Facebook and different neighbors next door, the religious world is intimately connected, and this book offers a sound theological basis for positive interfaith relationships.”
Dr. Godsey says: “My core message is that religious prejudice and intolerance are diminishing us, threatening the fiber of human civilization. If religion is to survive as a relevant and constructive force in the world, which I believe it should, we must see every person as a gift of God to the world. We should meet and listen to one another with deeper humility, more profound respect, more genuine gentleness and more abundant grace.”
The book retails for $19.95 and is available at bookstores and online. For more information, visit www.isgodachristian.com. Study guides will be posted on the website in early June.
Official Book Launch
Creating a Community of Conversation, featuring Dr. R. Kirby Godsey, Rabbi Larry Schlesinger and Imam Adam Fofana
Cox Capitol Theatre
382 Second St., Macon
May 19 at 6 p.m.
R. Kirby Godsey, Is God a Christian?
Sidney Soiree, talk and book signing
Sidney Lanier Cottage on High Street
Sunday, May 22, 2 p.m.
About Mercer University Press
Established in 1979, Mercer University Press has published more than 1,200 books. Operated by a six-member staff, the press publishes more than 35 books annually. The reputation of the Press significantly enhances the academic environment of the University and carries the name of Mercer throughout the world. The Press seeks and acquires manuscripts that contribute to the advancement of knowledge; publishes monographs and other texts in the humanities, primarily in history, philosophy, religion, and Southern studies; and disseminates these publications internationally to students, scholars, and libraries. The annual Authors Luncheon is a fundraiser for Mercer University Press. For more information, visit www.mupress.org.
About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at four regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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