Found in the Middle!


Found in the Middle! offers a foundational approach to the theology and ethics that undergird a congregation where moderate Christians can thrive. Wildman and Garner serve as helpful guides on a quest for a humble theology, an intelligible gospel message, a compelling view of church unity, and a radical ethics deeply satisfying to most Christians with both liberal and evangelical instincts.

Found in the Middle! will help pastors, congregational leaders, seminarians, and all thoughtful Christians will learn how truly moderate Christianity can unite the compassionate openness and social activism of liberal Christianity with the magnetism and spiritual fervor of evangelical Christianity. You may feel lost in the middle, but you are not alone there. The middle may be the place where you find yourself living most authentically.

Distinctive Features

Found in the Middle has a number of distinctive features.

  • It directly addresses a large group of political and religious moderates who know they don’t fit the polarized environment but don’t know how to express their convictions.
  • It provides the theological and ethical framework that moderates need to understand their situation and overcome the confusion of feeling lost in the middle.
  • It fills a gap left by books such as Jim Wallis’s God’s Politics, which appeals to socially progressive evangelicals but does not provide an explicit theological framework for moderate self-understanding.
  • It offers practical strategies to moderate Christians for conceiving their faith and thinking about church priorities.

Table of Contents

Is this Book for You?
A Survey of the Territory

Part I. God of the Storm

Chapter 1. Approaching God Theologically

A Seminary Journey

Chapter 2. God Talk

Sizing Up God
Theological Conflict
Theological Debate Ruled by Humility and Love
The Quality of God-Talk

Chapter 3. In the Grip of a God Beyond Our Grasp

The Strange New World of the Bible
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity
Meaning and Purpose of Life, Existence, and History
Eternal Life and Resurrection of the Dead
A Moderate Conclusion

Part II. God Was In Christ

Chapter 4. Approaching the Gospel Theologically

The Christological Whirlwind
The Centrality of Christ
Narrative Structures and Plot Details

Chapter 5. Gospel Talk

The Human Predicament
The Divine Rescue
The Great Enemy
The Resurrection

Chapter 6. God was in Christ Reconciling the World

Getting the Story Started
The Problem of Sin
The Person and Work of Jesus Christ
Confronting Christ with Christological Speculation
From Doctrine to Discipleship
The Meaning of Salvation
A Moderate Conclusion

Part III. Choosing the Sugar Shack Church

Chapter 7. The Practical Problem of Pluralism

Church Shopping
Revolutionary Christians
Shopping for a Challenge
In a Small New England Village…

Chapter 8. Transcending Pluralism: The Classic Formula


Chapter 9. Living with Imperfection: Church Splits and the Ecumenical Ideal

Reality of Church Splitting
Theology of Church Splitting
Balancing Purity and Unity
Implementing the Ecumenical Ideal
A Moderate Conclusion

Part IV. The Radical Moderate

Chapter 10. Radical Discipleship for Moderate Christians

What’s Radical about Christian Discipleship?
How do Moderate Christians Become Radical Disciples?

Chapter 11. Radical Inclusiveness for Moderate Christians

What’s Radical about Christian Inclusiveness?
How do Moderate Christians Nurture Radical Inclusiveness?

Chapter 12. Radical Ethics for Moderate Christians

What’s Radical about Christian Ethics?
How do Moderate Christians Live Out Radical Ethics?
A Moderate Conclusion

Part V. Guide to the Perplexed

Chapter 13. A Guide for Discerning Moderate Christians

Evangelical Repentance
Liberal Repentance
Worship is the Bond
Message Matters
Vibrant Spirituality
Kingdom Mission
Reverent Humility

Chapter 14. Parting Words: What’s Next?

For Pastors and Lay Church Leaders
For Seminarians
For Lay Christians

Appendix: Resources for Further Study

Blurbs and Links

From This book explained to me how to live a life that I truly believed in. Their first book “Lost in the middle” explained how I was feeling. I was on the verge of leaving Christianity as I could not reconcile my strongly held social justice beliefs coupled with my very personal relationship with Jesus & God, with traditional evangelical and catholic thinking and beliefs. I tried really hard because my fiance is an evangelical christian and I was a catholic but I could not go against who I believed Jesus to be. This book saved my spiritual life which really to me is saying it saved my life. Please read this book if you are struggling and searching for true meaning of Christianity and life like I was. The only negative was that I tried to email the authors at their organization but didn’t get a reply.

From For those of us who take scripture seriously, too seriously to take it literally; for those of us in mainline churches, happy that the off-brand churches are growing and appalled at some of their theologies, for those of us who label ourselves both liberal (progressive) AND evangelical, this book, with its companion “Lost in the Middle” is a breath of fresh air. Read them! Start with the companion volume first.