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Fall 2003 · Vol. 32 No. 2 · pp. 244–245 

Book Review

Threatened with Resurrection: Self-Preservation and Christ’s Way of Peace

Jim S. Amstutz. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 2002. 128 pages.

Reviewed by Devon H. Wiens

The provenance of the title of this slim volume, addressed particularly to newcomers to the Anabaptist perspective, is found in Julia Esquivel’s poem, “They Have Threatened Us with Resurrection”: “To dream awake, to keep watch asleep, to live while dying, and to know ourselves already resurrected!” Unfortunately, the title is not clearly explained or consistently pointed to throughout the book. The reviewer must say, however, that Amstutz presents a refreshing emphasis on the resurrection, inasmuch as discussions among Anabaptists tend to focus, one-eyed, on the cross of Christ, with a relative overlooking of the Easter event.

The plan of the book is nowhere articulated, so ascertaining its organization is something of a problem. Individual chapters appear as cameo shots of the subject, more like viewing the various facets of a diamond than observing a sequential progression of topics.

Briefly, Amstutz asserts that the way of radical discipleship is the way of the cross, ridiculed by the world as foolishness, as well as being a “third way” (in the by now thoroughly familiar terminology of Walter Wink) which avoids both “fight” and “flight.” This way—though rejected by the world which accentuates the notion of self-preservation {245} and is “threatened by resurrection” (as catalyzed by Jesus’ own resurrection)—empowers Jesus’ followers to risk their own lives and sense of self-preservation for the higher good of self-denial and sacrifice for others.

This adds up to the author’s popular defense of the pacifist (not “passivist”!) position, but one which counsels a “go-slow” approach with those not traditionally so disposed, and one which admits that most Anabaptists do not themselves come to the position from tested and tried experience.

A few problems are in evidence: an argument on p. 54 is based on a decidedly minority textual reading; p. 83 refers to Josephus’s work as an “OT way of thinking” (!); and on p. 89, the popular shibboleth “WWJD” is used, despite Amstutz’ earlier contention (86) that WD(“Did”)JD is a preferable formulation.

Better editing of the book would have enhanced its overall appearance, as there are a number of misprints and occasional instances of problematic syntax. Yet the work will readily find a place as a manual for church study groups, especially for those which include folks who are not (yet) persuaded by this more radical perspective.

Devon H. Wiens
Prof. Emeritus of Biblical and Religious Studies
Fresno Pacific University, Fresno, California

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