Faith on the Road by Joerg Rieger

Faith on the RoadRieger, Joerg. Faith on the Road: A Short Theology of Travel & Justice. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2015. 144 pp. $18.00. Purchase at Amazon or on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Joerg Rieger (PhD, Duke University) is Wendland-Cook Professor of Constructive Theology at Perkins School of Theology, SMU. An internationally recognized scholar and activist, he has engaged in questions of liberation, theology and economics for over two decades, addressing the relation of theology to public life. Rieger is the author of many books. He has lectured throughout the U.S. as well as internationally, including presentations in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, England, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and China. In the Dallas area, he is active in the religion and labor movement as a member of the steering committee of Jobs with Justice and a co-founder of the Workers’ Rights Board.

Summary

Divided into only five chapters, Joerg looks at the Judeo-Christian theology of travel. He offers experiences and challenges from the road as well as the importance of short-term missions. His concluding chapter looks at travel as an act of justice.

From the back of the book:

Millions of people travel every day, for what seem like millions of reasons. Some travel for pleasure, others travel for work and education, and many more travel to find a new job and a better life. In the United States, even those who don’t travel far still frequently find themselves on the move.

What can we learn from these different forms of travel? And what can people of faith learn from the Christian and Jewish traditions that took shape on the road? From the exile from Eden to the wanderings of Jesus and his disciples, the story of Scripture is a dynamic narrative of ceaseless movement. Those who let themselves be inspired by this movement, and are willing to learn from others and from mistakes made in the process, are well positioned to make a difference in the world, not only at home but also around the globe.

In this revised edition of the author’s book Traveling, Joerg Rieger reflects on how Christian faith reorients the way we think about and make journeys in our lives .

Review

To be honest, I was a little skeptical reading this book given some of the names that endorsed it (Brian McLaren stands out the most). Therefore, I approached this book with a bit more of a critical eye than normal for this website.

While I will disagree with some of the political and social-justice theology espoused by the author, I found this short little book to be extremely thought provoking. Unfortunately for many Christians today, we hear the phrase “social justice” and the thought immediately turns to theological  liberalism. This is truly unfortunate as there is much to learn from those who seek social justice.

As I read Faith on the Road I did find myself confronted with my lack of theological thinking on redeeming my travels. Granted, I understood everything that was being stated (especially how travel will change the way we think), but I am not sure I had considered it as explicitly as Rieger does.

In the end, you will not agree with everything he writes, but you will not be able to say that he does not get you to think in a more Christocentric manner. For that, we are indebted as a church.

Recommendation

While I must caution against some of the underlying theology (because I disagree and not because it is heresy), I do recommend this resource for the thinking Christian looking to live all of life on mission.