Resurrection City


Photo by David Gonzalez/New York Times

“There are times – like when John Coltrane plays “A Love Supreme” – that jazz becomes a mystical experience, burrowing deep into your soul. The Rev. Peter Heltzel knows a bit about both, being a jazzhead and a theologian. A few years ago, spellbound by the artistry of a combo in a West Village basement jazz club, he had a revelation: if musicians can start with standards and transform them, why can’t preachers be equally adept?”

— David Gonzalez, The New York Times
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“[Peter Heltzel is] hoping to … transform how Christians move in their worlds. Resurrection City pulsates with both the prophetic rage and redemptive joy that Heltzel finds in the Bible and especially its central figure, the Jewish Jesus “who is leading an intercultural, improvisational movement of love and justice.”

— Edward J. Blum, Christianity Today
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“Resurrection City is a model for doing theology today. It is creative, contextual, personal, prophetic, biblical, bold, and beautifully written.”

— Wesley Vander Lugt,
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“Peter Heltzel is a jazz-infused theologian par excellence! Don’t miss this gem of a book.”
— Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary

“Jazz musicians can improvise because they are so rooted in musical traditions, because they know the standards so well. This grounding allows for the freedom to create something that is both continuous with the past and open to a new future. Theology, claims Peter Heltzel, should be like improvisational jazz — various traditions coming together in an ongoing continuity that is always new. In Resurrection City, Heltzel performs just this kind of theology. Deeply grounded in Scripture, history, music, and the struggle for justice, Heltzel improvises a prophetic Christian theology of hope. Both scholarly and accessible, Resurrection City is a virtuoso performance.”
— Shannon Craigo-Snell, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

“This is an informative, provocative, and timely book — a gift to the church as it seeks the shalom of the city.”
— Eldin Villafañe, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“Heltzel’s extraordinary theology prophetically re-imagines the future of Christianity through improvisation, the lifeblood of creative music around the world, enacting a clarion call to assembly that exhorts us toward a spiritual practice affirming the twinned imperatives of justice and love.”
— George E. Lewis, Columbia University

“Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and the notion of ‘Resurrection City,’ Peter Heltzel, a leading thinker of his generation of American evangelicals, presents here arguably the most cogent theological engagement with race and the American evangelical world available today, even as he locates his engagement within a wider frame — a vision for an evangelicalism of the future. This, Heltzel lyrically argues, will be an evangelicalism that dares to love as God loves. It is a jazz-inflected, musical evangelicalism — an evangelicalism that engages its past, that negotiates the present with improvisational verve (the inspiration here is John Coltrane’s sermonic anthem, A Love Supreme), and that consequently can receive the future. I heartily recommend this book.”
— J. Kameron Carter, Duke University Divinity School