A World According to God: Practices for PuttingFaith at the Center of Your Life
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Many Christians struggle to make the connection between our faith and the rest of our lives, particularly moral issues large and small. We inhabit a world, says Martha Ellen Stortz, that is split into two parts: one presided over by advice columnists and the media, the other a world according to God. But that world according to God is not always easy to discern. What does it mean, indeed, to live with God as our touchstone? How does that affect the way we behave, our identity, and the way we see the world?  

Martha Ellen Stortz explores essential Christian practices of discipleship such as baptism, prayer, communion, forgiveness, and fidelity to help readers understand more deeply what it means to live in "a world according to God." The book makes the connections between Christian practices and the moral life in a way that will help believers retrieve both a sense of the sacred and a commitment to the world, and that will strengthen us so that we can live according to their most profound beliefs. Filled with lively anecdotes and fresh interpretations—informed by solid theological understanding—the book offers new insights into what it means to put faith at the center of life. 


Martha Ellen Stortz is professor of historical theology and ethics at Pacific Lutheran Seminary, a branch of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She is a layperson in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is widely respected for her speaking and teaching in the church. She is the author of PastorPower: Power and Leadership in Ministry.


Foreword by Ron Hansen ix

Acknowledgements xiii

1 Imagining a World According to God 1

2 Discipleship: Meeting Peter Again for the First Time 19

3 Baptism: Joining the Journey 33

4 The Lord’s Supper: Sustaining the Body of Christ 53

5 Prayer: Conversations Along the Way 71

6 Forgiveness: Healing and Being Healed 93

7 Remembering: Loving with a Resurrection Affection 113

8 Fidelity: Promising Ourselves Body, Mind, Soul, and Spirit 131

9 Practicing Resurrection 153

Notes 165

Recommended Reading 169

The Author 171

Index 173


In the best tradition of theological writing, theologian Stortz, who teaches at Pacific Lutheran Seminary, offers faith-filled reflections on the practices that are essential to Christianity and the activities that make one a follower of Jesus: discipleship, baptism, the Lord’s supper, prayer, forgiveness, remembering, fidelity and resurrection. For contemporary Christians, these practices from the life of Jesus are not so much techniques as they are activity and leitmotif, metaphors that provide interpretation of and guidance for living. Their re-enactment by Christians serves as a reminder of faith. Thus, baptism, which brings one into the church, makes the believer a member of God’s family and initiates relationships with God and fellow Christians that structure a lifetime. Stortz’s Christianity is devout yet not dogmatic, solidly based in Christian scripture yet not narrowly so. Her chapter on fidelity—love nurtured over time and bounded and renewed by promises—as a way of life presents original thinking about responsible Christian sexual ethics far from the culture wars over protecting the sanctity of marriage and equally far from laissez-faire libertarianism. She insightfully suggests that Jesus upon the cross cannot by himself forgive his persecutors, but instead asks his father to perform that loving miracle. Stortz’s prose is often lyrical or striking—the dead “teach us a resurrection affection”—a rare quality in theological writing. This short book is fresh and profound. (May) (Publishers Weekly, March 29, 2004)"People are yearning to find life that really is life. Martha Stortz's beautifully crafted book offers wisdom to address that yearning, showing how Christian practices offer life-giving connections –to God, to the world, and to other people. Her eloquent testimony is refreshing reading, and more importantly it also points us to renewing living."
—Gregory Jones, dean and professor of theology, Duke University Divinity School

A World According to God explains how the 'way' of Jesus grounds our efforts in the truth about the cosmos and the truth about us. Every chapter left me with some new insight into how the faith I profess can make sense of the struggle I face and the life I lead. Martha Stortz is funny, very smart, and down-to-earth wise: this is a perfect choice for my own book group!”
—Catherine M. Wallace, Lilly Endowment writer in residence, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary

“Beautifully written, with lively story, captivating metaphor, and a deep knowledge of scriptural tradition, this book bears witness to the formative power o f Ch ristian practices.”
—Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore, the divinity school, Vanderbilt University 

"For all kinds of seekers and teachers, Marty Stortz significantly advances the current work on Christian practices by telling the Christian story through scripture and the lives of ordinary people. She begins where Christians have always begun, with water and food, and goes where that has always led, to prayer, forgiveness, remembering, and fidelity. Deeply personal, Stortz takes us to the heart of Christian faith as discipleship, as practices of resurrection."
—Timothy F. Sedgwick, The Clinton S. Quin professor of christian ethics, Virginia Theological Seminary

“By integrating biblical reflections and sound theology with down-home examples, Stortz makes accessible some of the ways we can bring to life our commitment to Jesus as Lord.”
—Richard M. Gula, S.S., professor of moral theology, Franciscan School of Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California

“If practice makes perfect, then Christian practice makes for better – if not perfect – disciples. In tones both direct and confident, Martha Stortz trains us in the spiritual exercise of looking and seeing the world as God does, and guides us through those everyday practices that build the future as God would have it.”
—Michael Downey, author, Understanding Christian Spirituality