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We are very pleased to offer several of the writings of the late Vernard Eller (1927-2007) on the House Church Central web site. Dr. Eller was a member of the Church of the Brethren, one of the many traditions descended from the Protestant Radical Reformation that is the seat of house church theology. He published over twenty books, many articles in scholarly journals, and has been a frequent guest preacher or teacher in pulpits and lecture halls all over the country. He was an expert on Kierkegaard, and has spoken especially frequently on such topics as radical discipleship and the Christian life.
Dr. Eller received his B.A. from LaVerne College in 1949, a B.D. from Bethany Theological Seminary, an M.A. from Northwestern University, and a Th. D. from the Pacific School of Religion. He joined the faculty of LaVerne College in 1958 and was Professor of Religion there for many years.
The materials below are just the beginning of long list of items that are working through the mill at House Church Central. We hope that you will enjoy his insight, wit, and message.
Kierkegaard and Radical Discipleship: A New Perspective. Forget whatever you may have heard about Kierkegaard. Eller shows here that he was far closer to the Protestant sectarianism of his day than to philosophy, sociology, or physchology. This began as Eller's Ph. D. dissertation, but has been greatly expanded.
The Sex Manual for Puritans. Eller's "Mad Morality" article in The Christian Century received so much favorable comment that Dr. Eller forged an alliance with the people of Mad Magazine to create a whole book with that title. That book, illustrated by the Mad Magazine staff, is not available for electronic publication--but it sold so well that The Sex Manual for Puritans was written as a follow up project. It was also to have Mad Magazine illustrations, but circumstances changed and it was ultimately decided to publish it in a plain paper wrapper (so to speak).
The Simple Life: The Christian Stance Toward Possessions. This is about the Christian simple life, not the popular variety so many seek today. Thoroughly biblical, Dr. Eller adds the parables of Kierkegaard to his own analysis to derive the doctrine of the simple life from the New Testament witness.
The Most Revealing Book of the Bible. This is a lay-person's commentary with a difference. First, it might well have been subtitled "the non-calendarizer's handbook to Revelation," leaving no quarter for those who seek to compare the events and charcters in that book with those in modern society and politics. Second, it is theological in its treatment, refusing to engage in any interpretation that violates the balance of New (or Old) Testament theology while remaining solidly exegetical every step of the way. Third, it presents a strong case that Revelation is a vital book for our own age--a well crafted presentation of the gospel message and an encouragement for the faithfulness of the saints.
The Outward Bound: Caravaning as a Style of the Church. A strong challenge to the institutional church that sees itself as a "commissary," Dr. Eller presents the case for the outward bound community that sees itself as a "caravan" on its way to a celestial destination. Should the church be successful or faithful? And why can't it have it both ways? Should a church see itself as the Royal Vienna String Quartet, or as a barbershop foursome?
Thy Kingdom Come: A Blumhardt Reader. A wonderful introduction to the writings of this father and son team who's writings greatly influenced Barth, Bonhoeffer, and many others others who have helped shape House Church theology, Dr. Eller has compiled, translated, and organized this collection.
The Language of Canaan and the Grammar of Feminism. House Church Central is an "inclulsive language" website, but the astute believer needs to be aware of the important concept of gender in the Scriptures because inclusive language can obscure some aspects of God's revelation. This is a book about language--both the Bible's (the language of Canaan) and our own.
A Pearl of Christian Counsel for the Brokenhearted. Dr. Eller brings us a delightful 14th century anonymous poem, having translated it from Middle English and adding a commentary. A devotional look at suffering, grieving, and loss from a Christian perspective.
The Beloved Disciple: His Name, His Story, His Thought. Is John Son of Zebedee really the author of the Fourth Gospel? Prof. Eller puts on his Sherlock Holmes hat and discovers a much more likely candidate. The book goes on to locate the Eucharist in that book, which was skipped over in its treatment of the Last Supper.
Christian Anarchy: Jesus' Primacy over the Powers.
If you're wondering what Christians should do about politics,
the Christian Right, tax withholding, civil disobedience, etc., etc., you will need
to read this book.
Proclaim Good Tidings: Evangelism for the Faith Community. Where is the house church on evangelism? Eller himself regards this short book as the one most centered in the house church community. But you won't see him handing out tracts or preaching on street corners here.
Could the Church Have it All Wrong? A brand new publication, exclusively available on House Church Central. It examines the theology and purpose of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, finding that most modern expressions miss the point entirely. This will transform your thinking on these important ordinances and bring new life to your fellowship.
War and Peace from Genesis to Revelation. This book is still in print (Herald Press) and therefore not available as an electronic publication. In it, Eller presents a theology of pacifism.
You may order the book from Amazon.com by clicking here.
Vernard Eller was a frequent witness of radical discipleship to the subscribers of The Christian Century, which has graciously permitted their republication here for the benefit of House Church Central visitors.