Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
March 20th, 2014 by Joel Watts

Endorsements for “Praying in God’s Theater” (@wipfandstock)

Praying in God's Theater

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“Revelation is, at its heart, about mysteries. Such things are best approached in prayer, in an attitude of worship, and in conversation with wiser souls. Joel L. Watts’s approach does exactly that, weaving a mix of liturgical prayer and scholarly reflections together with insights from commentators both ancient and modern.”
—Gary Neal Hansen, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, Dubuque, IA

“Watts has written a beautiful, creative, and informative book on John’s Apocalypse. Watts’ attention to the full landscape of the book of Revelation, coupled with his attention to multiple interpretive traditions, is commendable. This book will serve faith communities and university students alike. It deserves careful attention.”
—John Oliff, Department of Christian Studies, Eastern University, St. Davids, PA

Joel Watts’ Praying in God’s Theatre brings a brilliant and fresh view- point to the Book of Revelation. For those of you laymen or women, like myself, who have struggled with the meaning and nature of Revelation, no matter how many bible studies, Praying in God’s Theatre brings a spirited context to the Bible’s most controversial and enigmatic book.

A few years ago I filmed a documentary on contemplative prayer, Be Still, with Beth Moore, Mac Lucado, Peter Kreeft, Dallas Willard, and Robert Foster; but that documentary pales in compari- son with the soulful observation that Mr. Watts is able to imbue in this remarkable literary and academic work regarding the contem- plation of Revelation.

Mr. Watts returns to the grand tradition of “Lectio Divina” in which scripture and reader become one. What did the Yale Humanities Professor, Harold Bloom say? “You don’t read Shakespeare, Shakespeare reads you.” What Mr. Watts is suggesting in his smart but easy-to-read book is that a prayerful spirited heart is truly neces- sary so that Revelation can, in a way, read you. In so doing, this process brings new levels of vision in one’s own faith journey through the Holy Spirit.

In his remarkable book, Mr. Watts creates a practical pathway with a collection of wonderful prayers that will help the reader gain further insight into the mystic realms of the Revelation text. For so long, Fundamentalists have kidnapped the era in which we live. They have roped it around the end-of-days gloom seemingly inherent in Revelation. That interpretation only drives away the possibility of a truly meaningful life through Christ. Mr. Watts takes us to another place. “This is not just a chapter (Revelation) about endings, it is about new beginnings,” he writes. In his thoughtful and powerful way, he allows us to unlock “the most important message” of the “Fifth Gospel.”

What I admire about Watt’s writing is that it is inclusive. It brings “the body of Christ” together. His intelligent and compas- sionate analysis hopefully strikes up a new kind of revival in which all brothers and sisters in Christ can partake. As a body, we have become so closed to discourse especially in the realms of science. Mr. Watts’ view point on scripture, opens us up, frees us, allows us to engage with others in, healthy, life-affirming ways.

Praying in God’s Theatre is for anyone who has struggled with Revelation. It opens your eyes and heart and mind to a fresh start. It may indeed alter your worldview in a way that will be surprising, loving, and Christ-like.
—David Paul Kirkpatrick Author, and former President of Paramount Pictures, and Walt Disney Pictures

I found this book to be a very spiritually Christian book. The hand
of God can be seen throughout the prayers
—Doug Iverson Baptist, Ripon, Wisconsin

Joel L. Watts has incorporated a great blend of the teachings and liturgy from the Old Testament, its Psalms and ancient churches of the New Testament. His inclusion of the early church fathers, church councils and some of the greatest theologians throughout history Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant bridges it all together. This book is a great tool for understanding prayers, the liturgy, and the union of the Sacraments with Christ. It provides an in-depth perspective into Revelation and the Liturgy
—Most Reverend Kevin B. Twohig East Coast Diocese of the Advent Independent Catholic Church

Joel L. Watts’ innovative reading of the Book of Revelation continues his tradition of opening Scripture from a new and fresh perspective and offering readers a unique take on texts. Praying Scripture—even if that Scripture is the Apocalypse—is a spiritual exercise many of the Ancients endorsed. Joel’s attempt to revive the practice is commendable.
—Jim West Professor of Biblical Studies, Quartz Hill School of Theology

In this work on the book of Revelation, Joel L. Watts has did an excellent job of utilizing the best of contemporary exegesis as well as the words of the Church Mothers and Fathers. This will not doubt be an important resource for worship settings as local churches continue to embody the traditions of the early Church passed down to us.
—Rod Thomas, ThM (Master of Theology), and Baptist writer and political commentator at PoliticalJesus.com

With the entirety of the Christian tradition acting as his palate, Watts opens up one of the Bible’s most mystifying and polarizing books. Rather than let John’s Apocalypse sit in stasis, Watts uses the disci- pline of prayer to open it to those all over the Christian spectrum. This book is proof that—liberal or conservative—Revelation doesn’t have to scare us.

—Rev. Chris Tiedeman United Methodist Church (Indiana)

In this engaging and practical approach to the book of Revelation, Watts provides us with a wealth of information, sources, traditions, and even theologies that it is difficult to imagine how he was able to interweave them so seamlessly. In fact, for those that are interested in ecumenism, religious synthesis and even in syncretism, I cannot recommend this book enough as an example of how different Christian traditions can be joined together successfully for means of Christian devotion.

Personally, for a person that was brought up in a theology simi- lar to the author’s, this volume is such a breath of fresh air, and, accessible scholarship, that I cannot emphasize enough how helpful it has been to understand and enjoy the book of Revelation anew.

In a very fortuitous way, I was recently asked to write a course on the book of Revelation for a local parish church. You can be assured that this book will be in my required reading list.

—Daniel E. Ortiz MA MTh BTh Ordained Pastor in the UCE (Bolivian Congregationalist Church) Denomination. (Presently an Anglican communicant and, soon to be, Doctoral candidate in Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies in The University of Birmingham, U.K.)

I once stood in the cave on the Island of Patmos where the ancient traditions of the church believed that the Apostle John received a revelation from God concerning the final triumph of the “Lamb that was slain.” Centuries of scholarship have revised our understanding of the origins of the Book of Revelation, but its promises and images continue to fascinate the contemporary disciples of Jesus.

In this fascinating book, Joel Watts has transformed those promises and images into prayers, and has shifted the focus of our fascination with this book from our theology to our spirituality. As I moved through the pages of this book, I found nourishment for my spiritual life as I prayed the ancient vision of the triumphant and reigning Christ and I trust that it will be the same for each reader. This book is creative, profound, and spiritually provocative.
—William Boyd Grove Bishop, Retired, United Methodist Church

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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