Embraced: Many Stories, One Destiny, by Mark French Buchanan (Review)

One of the amazing things about being at Princeton for the Karl Barth Conference this year was meeting and befriending others whose lives and thinking have been profoundly shaped by Moltmann’s work. One such individual was Mark French Buchanan. I previously shared a guest post from Mark here and plan to share more from him in the near future!

Mark’s new book, Embraced: Many Stories, One Destiny, has been released by Wipf and Stock, and I was delighted to have been given an opportunity to read an early digital copy.  Mark first met professor Moltmann as a seminary student in 1980, and has spent his time since seeking to live out the hopeful theology that Moltmann espouses, in his life and in his pastoral ministry. This book is largely an outgrowth of this journey, which, for me at least, is part of what made it so engaging. 

Embraced by Mark Buchanan is a beautiful book that bridges the gap between the hopeful theology of Jürgen Moltmann and real life experiences. Each chapter focuses on a different facet of Moltmann’s theology through the lens of story; most of them stories from Buchanan’s own life. Through the course of the book, Buchanan interacts with Moltmann’s entire corpus from start to finish, tying key aspects of Moltmann’s theology into his own story and also Moltmann’s own life experiences (which, when it comes to understanding Moltmann, is very important!). Those looking for a primer on Moltmann will find a readily accessible work that introduces the most important themes of his theology and provides helpful quotations from Moltmann with footnotes that point the reader to the the original works.

The stories run the whole gamut of human experience, from the joys and pains of family life, to personal failure and the struggles of an intercultural pastor seeking to bring hope to a community divided by race and marred by violence (and much, much, more!). There is a raw and authentic feel to this book that I found very refreshing. Though Buchanan deals with weighty subjects in conversation with the deep theology of a renowned German theologian, this is a very easy and relatable read. I’m sure it will be most widely read by those with special interest in Moltmann, but its vision of experienced hope in places where hope is far from expected will also be helpful for everyone who picks up this work. This isn’t really a book for would-be Moltmann scholars seeking to master their subject; it is a book for pilgrims “on the way” who, like Buchanan and like Moltmann himself, are seeking to walk with Jesus on the way to His future and our universal future in Him.

Be sure to check out Mark’s new website and this promotional flier about the book. You can order the Embraced online from Wipf and Stock here (for a limited time, use promo code “embraced” at checkout for 30% off retail). It’s not available on Amazon yet, but I’ll update this post with a link when it is!

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