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New Book from GBHEM Publishing Explores the Power of Liberating Grace

April 19, 2018

The Publishing Office of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, released a new book that invites readers to rethink core concepts of the Christian faith in the invigorating, lifegiving light of grace that has the power to free us and change everything. “No Religion but Social Religion: Liberating Wesleyan Theology” was written by Joerg Rieger with contributions from Paulo Ayres Mattos, Helmut Renders, and José Carlos de Souza.

In the book, Rieger explores grace, grace that works in, and sometimes through, the grit of everyday life to liberate us and allow us to be in sync with the struggles of others around the world. The authors remind us that we all live with the pressures of life, but those at the margins of society struggle mightily. Too many of us, who enjoy some of the privileges of life, are preoccupied with ourselves, our problems, our idiosyncratic views of self and other. We cannot see the possibilities of life that lay beyond us; and without re-envisioning our self-serving images of God, we will never be able to formulate hopes and dreams for the future.

Rieger, Cal Turner Chancellor’s Chair of Wesleyan Studies and distinguished professor of Theology at the Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt University, is an internationally recognized scholar and activist. He engages in questions of liberation, theology, and economics, addressing the relation of theology to public life. Rieger is the author of many books, including “Globalization and Theology;” “No Rising Tide: Theology, Economics, and the Future;” and “Christ and Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times.” A popular speaker, Rieger travels extensively, lecturing in churches and universities all over the world.

Mattos is the president of the Graduate Ecumenical Institute of Religious Science, São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo, Brazil. Renders is an elder of the Methodist Church in Brazil and professor in the Graduate Program of Religion in the School of Communication Education and Humanities and School of Theology, Methodist University of São Paulo, Brazil. De Souza is an elder of the Methodist Church in Brazil and professor in the School of Theology, Methodist University of São Paulo, Brazil.

“No Religion but Social Religion; Liberating Wesleyan Theology” has received praise from scholars across the country. “Joerg Rieger tackles difficult, contemporary issues related to race, class, gender, and sexuality. He skillfully relates them to Wesleyan perspectives on sin, grace, salvation, and the role of the church,” said Josiah U. Young III, professor of Systematic Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary. “Throughout his book, he amplifies the voices of Methodist liberation theologians from the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Graciously including edifying essays by José Carlos de Souza, Helmut Renders, and Paulo Ayres Mattos, Rieger’s ‘No Religion but Social Religion: Liberating Wesleyan Theology’ is a strong addition to his oeuvre, in which John Wesley’s legacy attains fresh, contemporary significance.

Bryan Stone, associate dean for Academic Affairs, E. Stanley Jones professor of Evangelism and co-director of the Center for Practical Theology at Boston School of Theology, added, “The theology of John Wesley, though projected from a historical past, is capable of serving as a living and dynamic force in the world and in contemporary theology. This volume impressively captures the voices of Wesleyan scholars working around the world on behalf of liberation and social holiness. The authors creatively and contextually reinterpret theological themes and ethical commitments in the Methodist tradition, breathing new life and relevance into each. I hope this volume will become a standard for those studying Wesleyan and liberation theologies and for those on the front lines seeking justice in the world.”

“No Religion but Social Religion; Liberating Wesleyan Theology” is available at and For more information about GBHEM’s Publishing Office, visit Publications or follow @GBHEMPublishing on Facebook.

Wesley’s Foundery Books is an imprint of GBHEM. Foundery books are clearly and accessibly written by Methodist/Wesleyan experts, with an emphasis on church life and ministry. Representing the rich diversity of the church, Wesley’s Foundery Books offer a disciplined and balanced approach.

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.

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