“Zooming Out from the Immanent Frame”
November 10, 2019
Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service
Our Scripture reading this morning is from the Gospel of John, chapter seven, verses twenty-five through thirty-six.
It is the Feast of Tabernacles. The Jews have gathered in Jerusalem. And Jesus has begun to teach in the temple. He has identified himself, and has pointed out that the Jewish leaders are trying to kill him. In response to all this, the crowd of people from Jerusalem begin to talk amongst themselves about who Jesus is and what he is doing. And we come into the scene at that point – when they are talking with one another in response to Jesus’s words.
With that context in mind, we come to John chapter seven, verses twenty-five through thirty-six.
Please do listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this morning.
7:25 Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”
32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”
This is the word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God.)
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]
Let’s pray …
Lord, we plead before you this morning,
to give us understanding according to your word.
Let our prayer come before you now,
and deliver us according to your promises.
Our lips this morning have poured out your praise,
because you teach us your statutes.
Our tongues have sung of your word,
because we know that all your commandments are right.
And so, as we attend now to your word,
grant us understanding and be at work in our hearts,
for Jesus’s sake. Amen
[Based on Psalm 119:169-172]
Our text this morning is a series of interactions between Jesus and crowd in Jerusalem. And it’s a scene that reads as a series of misunderstandings and instances of missing the point.
Jesus and the crowd seem to be talking past each other. And the reason why is that the frames within which each understands the events that are unfolding, are wildly different.
And to explain what I mean by that, we need to begin by talking about what I mean by the word “frame.”
The “frame” of something serves as a border to what is being considered. It marks off what is included for consideration, and what is not included. Let me give a couple examples of this.
I saw a scene from a sitcom recently in which two brothers, who are both adults, are sitting together in a conference room at the older brother’s office where he works (the older brother’s name is Michael) – and they’re sitting at the end of the conference table, talking. And suddenly the door right behind Michael’s brother opens, and their mother walks in.
And she confronts them both about how they’ve been acting. She turns to the brother and tells him that she has heard from others what negative things he has been saying about her. And then she turns to Michael, and she confronts him for turning his brother against her. Michael stands up and defends his relationship with his younger brother, who had recently been staying with him and his family. And their mother responds by arguing that the younger brother should move back in with her. Michael argues back that his brother is an adult and can decide for himself. But then his brother interrupts … and says he wants to go home with his mother and go back to living with her.
And some emotional music comes up in the background as Michael expresses how he’s appreciated spending more time with his brother, and then the younger brother leaves.
The mother turns to Michael and urges him to reach out to his own teenage son, before their relationship begins to struggle just as her relationship has struggled with her adult children.
And the emotional music continues. And she kisses him on the cheek, and leaves the room and closes the door, leaving Michael just standing there.
Now … through this whole conversation, the frame of the camera shot has been in tight, around the three family members as they talk at the end of this conference table.
But it’s at this point in the scene that the camera shot starts to slowly zoom out … revealing that the rest of the conference room is filled with dozens of Michael’s employees … who have been there the entire time.
One of the employees then clears his throat and says “So, uh … can we go now?” And Michael says “Yeah”. And they all rush out the doors.
Now … the joke in a scene like that all depends on the framing of the shot.
The frame of the shot for most of the scene deliberately left out important information about the setting where these family members had an emotional exchange … and then at the end, the frame shifted … and we realized, from the new zoomed-out perspective that the whole scene was different than we thought it was … and that abrupt and unexpected incongruity is the basis of the joke.
It’s not an uncommon move in comedies.
We can see a similar concept in more serious stories as well, though. In some cases, a frame can leave things out in a way that misdirects our attention in serious ways.
In a novel I’m reading right now, an organization keeps sending expeditions into a mysterious wilderness area to explore what’s going on there. And they provide each expedition with a map. And it isn’t until later on that one of the explorers realize that there is an island off the coast of the wilderness area … but the organization sending them had framed the map in such a way that it left the island off. And because of that fact, expedition after expedition had looked to other features of the wilderness and ignored the island, though the island might hold the key to what they are looking for.
The frame chosen for the map directed or misdirected the attention of those who used it.
A frame serves as a border. It marks off what is included for consideration, and what is not included. That’s true of a scene, its true of a map … and it’s also true of how we view the world.
Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has put forward the claim that we today, living in the secular West, live our lives in what he calls “the immanent frame.” As James Smith puts it, the “immanent frame” is our way of framing and so viewing our lives “entirely within a natural […] order.” So, as a society and as individuals within that society, we set a default frame around our lives, that serves as a border between what we will focus on, and what we box out of our focus. And that frame is set to the border between the immanent t and the transcendent. [Smith, 141]
And so, our default way of viewing the world, and thinking about our lives, is framed around what is immanent – around those things that are natural, and immediate to us. And anything that is transcendent – anything that is supernatural, we put outside that frame.
And key to understanding the significance of that border of focus – that frame around what is in view – is that the immanent frame does not so much deny that something lies outside the border of its frame … it’s more that it neglects what might be outside the frame … and neglects it so powerfully that we tend to not even think about it.
In that scene from the sitcom that I described, the storytellers never lied to us. They didn’t tell us that the family members were alone in the conference room, and then turn around and change the facts. They didn’t deny that there were dozens of people in the room with them … they just set the frame for the first portion of the scene in such a way that those people weren’t included … they neglected to show us the rest of the room … and we, the audience, responded by ignoring the rest of the room. We unconsciously, unintentionally, cooperated with the show’s director.
And in a similar way, the organization sending expeditions in the novel I mentioned didn’t lie to their explorers about there being an island … they just set the frame of the map to exclude it … and because the organization neglected the island on the map, the explorers went along as if it didn’t exist – discounting its importance even when they saw it.
In the same way, Charles Taylor argues that one powerful thing our culture does in a secular age, is that it sets the frame for the focus of our lives – both our individual lives and our corporate lives – it sets that frame in a way that includes what is immanent (what is natural, and direct, and physical), and it excludes what is transcendent (what is supernatural, and ultimate, and spiritual).
And as the world sets the border there – as it frames life like that … and as it does it again, and again, and again … over time we internalize that frame. And soon it is not so much that we deny that there is a transcendent realm beyond the immanent frame … it’s that we just sort of get into the habit of ignoring what’s beyond the borders of the immanent frame … unconsciously, unintentionally, cooperating with the culture around us.
And we see that in our text this morning. In our text, Jesus and the crowd come to their discussion with two different frames … and those differences in frames lead them to their very different words and actions.
Let’s start by considering the frame of the crowd.
What we see in the crowd is that restricting our gaze to the immanent frame leads to hostility towards the true God.
Restricting our gaze to the Immanent frame leads to hostility towards the true God.
Where do we see that?
Well, we can start with the shift from verse twenty-six to twenty-seven.
In verse twenty-six the crowd from Jerusalem wonders if Jesus might really be the Messiah – the Christ. But then in verse twenty-seven they decide he must not be, because, they say “We know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.”
There were a number of strands of thought about the background of the Messiah among first-century Jews, but one strand maintained that the Messiah would remain hidden until he was suddenly and dramatically revealed, and a result of that would be that when he appeared, his origin would not be immediately known. But since the people of Jerusalem already know that Jesus is from Nazareth, they conclude that he must not be the Messiah – the Christ. [Brown, 53, 313]
Jesus’s response is to point out that they are thinking of the Messiah’s mysterious origins in purely immanent – purely natural – terms. They are focused on what geographical region he’s from. But Jesus tries to direct their attention outside of the immanent frame.
Jesus’s response in verse twenty-eight about them knowing where he comes from could be read as an incredulous question … but even if it’s not, it is obviously meant with some irony, because Jesus goes on to challenge their knowledge of his origin in what follows.
In what follows, Jesus declares that his origin, that where he has come from, is God the Father. It is God the Father who has sent him.
The Jews knew on some level that there would be great mystery to the Messiah’s origin. But without even thinking of it, they had limited that mystery to the physical world.
Now … the first-century Jews did not live in what Charles Taylor calls “a secular age” … and yet for different historical reasons, the same dynamic was at work in their thinking. The first-century Jews had restricted their thinking and their focus to the immanent frame – to their immediate needs, to their physical and political challenges, to the practical difficulties they faced. Of course, they did not deny the transcendent – not at all. But they had begun to habitually neglect it. And so a border formed in their thinking. And now when they thought of the Messiah, they automatically thought in terms of the immanent frame – the natural physical world. They assumed the mystery of his origins must be a mystery within that frame. And when Jesus tries to redirect their gaze to the transcendent, to ultimate spiritual things, they don’t seem to get it.
And they do that more than once. In verses thirty-three and thirty-four Jesus says “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.”
The response of the Jews is to say to one another: “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks?”
Jesus speaks of his return to God the Father – God the Father whom Jesus just said he came from. But the first-century Jews don’t get it. Jesus speaks of returning to his Father in heaven, but they immediately think about where he must be going on earth. Jesus is speaking of eternal things, but their minds are stuck in the immanent frame.
And as they talk with Jesus while holding onto this frame, their perspective leads them to hostility.
The whole conversation begins with an acknowledgement of that hostility in verse twenty-five. The crowd in Jerusalem acknowledges that their leaders had already been trying to kill Jesus, and they marvel at the fact that they are not trying to arrest him as he teaches.
But then something surprising happens in verse thirty. In verses twenty-seven through twenty-nine Jesus and the crowd have that first interaction, which we just looked at. And then, in response, in verse thirty the crowd tries to arrest him.
And we should note that it’s the crowd that tries to do this. The leaders had been trying to arrest him, but they weren’t then. And it’s not until verse thirty-two that we read that the Jewish leaders – the chief priests and the Pharisees – sent officers in to arrest Jesus. But before that happened, in verse thirty, some in the crowd tried to seize Jesus and arrest him. [Carson, 319]
And then in verse thirty-two the leadership joins in on the effort.
Why are so many people in this text hostile to Jesus?
It’s interesting to note that often when people live their lives in the immanent frame, and neglect the transcendent that lies beyond its borders – often when people habitually neglect the transcendent realm, those same people will still be enraged when someone else asserts that they don’t understand transcendent truth – that they are unaware of the supernatural.
The crowd is habitually neglecting the transcendent realm, to such an extent that they have shifted the mystery of the Messiah’s origin to the natural world instead of the supernatural world. But then, when Jesus says in verse twenty-eight that the crowd does not know God the Father – that they do not know the transcendent One who sent him – they are incensed and seek to arrest him.
Now these were not people who denied God’s existence. They even identified Yahweh as the one true God. But despite all the information they had, they had still willfully misunderstood God.
They had the Hebrew Scriptures, which were meant to reveal the one true God … but the first-century Jews had more and more come to the Scriptures not in order to know God … but for other things. The people had come to the Scriptures for their own worldly advantage. They had restricted much of what they wanted from the Bible to how to live in the immanent frame. They had been very practical … and so within a certain scope they had taken the Scriptures very seriously … but they had neglected the chief transcendent content of the Scriptures – they had neglected the very One the Scriptures pointed to.
And they did this to such an extent that Jesus could say that they did not really know God the Father. And as a result, they also did not recognize his Son.
Yet they believed they did know God. They believed they would be able to identify the Messiah. And Jesus’s claim that they would not know enrages them.
Their ignorance of transcendence is so great that they do not even know what it is they don’t know. And their confidence is so overblown that they insist they know all about God and are ready to act against anyone who claims they do not.
When God the Son comes to them, they not only don’t recognize him, but they even respond by attempting violence against him.
What the crowd shows us is that restricting our gaze to the immanent frame leads to hostility towards the true God.
We see that in the crowd … but we should also recognize the same thing in ourselves.
And you should recognize it in yourself whether you believe in transcendent realities or not – because remember, the immanent frame is not primarily about denying the transcendent or the supernatural – it’s about habitually neglecting it. It’s about an automatic way of thinking that boxes out the supernatural. The lens through which we see life sets the border of our perspective at the edges of the immanent frame, just as the scene in that sitcom set the border around the three family members talking in the conference room.
What does that same pattern look like for us when it comes to God?
Well … if you’re not a Christian, you might start by asking yourself how often you think – you really think – about God and about transcendent reality.
How seriously do you apply yourself to the question of what lies beyond the immanent frame? Whose help have you sought in seeking God? Or have you, like the crowd, chafed at the very idea that anyone else might know more about God than you do?
Maybe you feel some of the weight of questions about God and transcendent reality … maybe you are haunted by such questions … Or maybe the truth is that most of the time you are comfortable just living in the immanent frame – living as if the natural world is all that exists.
The important truth though … which is taught in the Bible and underlies this passage … is that living exclusively in the immanent frame will not always be an option.
Whether we like it or not, the day will come when the frame of our lives will zoom out. And however much we might have neglected what lies outside its borders, however much we might have acted as if the rest of the conference room did not exist, the frame will zoom out. And when it does, the whole scene of our lives will be changed. It will be different.
You will suddenly stand before the One who made you, who placed a calling on your life. And if you have lived a life of neglecting him … if you lived as if he did not exist … if you spent little time even pursuing the question of who he might be, then you will have to answer to him for that. You will face his righteous judgment for your negligence of the most important element of your existence: your relationship to him.
Our text urges you, if you are not a Christian, to see what is at stake, and to seek to know the One who made you, who is beyond the immanent frame.
For Christians, the question our text presents is more specific. If you are a Christian, then take a moment to consider this question: How much of the focus of your spiritual life is dedicated to the practical aspects of your Christian walk … and how much of your focus is dedicated … to God himself? … to knowing God as he is? … to pursuing God as a person? … to relating to God on a personal level?
It is possible to spend much of our lives focused on living Christianly, but to not know Christ … to spend much of our lives concerned with how to be a godly parent, or a godly spouse, or a godly employee, or a godly friend … but to not know God himself.
We know that must be true because we have examples of it right here in our text – we have the chief priests and Pharisees, who lived their lives for God’s law, but who, Jesus says in this very passage, do not know God.
How much of your Christian life is focused on the immanent frame … and how much is actually focused on God himself?
Now, let’s be clear: It is not bad to be practical with our faith – it is essential, actually. Faith must be practical … but practical faith alone is not sufficient. Our faith must center on God himself.
Yet often, our focus is not on God himself, but on the practical aspects of the Christian life. Is that true of you? And if it is, do you see how, as you focus that way again and again … that even as you attend to spiritual things, you do it in a way that mirrors the culture around you? Do you see how you too fall into a pattern of neglecting … and even habitually neglecting … the transcendent God … and focusing all your attention on the immanent frame instead?
Do you see how doing that long enough, you can drift from God? Do you see how such a pattern can make you more and more like the crowd in our text this morning?
Restricting our gaze to the immanent frame leads ultimately to hostility towards the true God.
That is the problem we face in our text.
The alternative pattern we are presented with is that zooming out to a transcendent perspective leads us to relate to God rightly.
Zooming out to a transcendent perspective leads us to relate to God rightly.
We see this displayed most clearly in Christ himself. Again and again in this conversation, Jesus speaks of truth from a perspective that includes both the immanent and the transcendent – that includes both the natural and the supernatural. Every time the crowd reframes things solely within the immanent, Jesus expands the perspective out again to include the transcendent.
While they think of his origin primarily in terms of the natural world in verse twenty-seven, he thinks of his origin in terms of the supernatural – in terms of his relationship to God the Father. While they think of his destination in terms of where he will go next geographically, he is focused on where he is going cosmically – how he will return to God the Father to sit at his right hand. Jesus doesn’t see a different world than the crowd does … but his zoom is on a different setting … which means he sees the same world from a very different perspective. He sees not just the immediate players in the scene, but he sees the whole room, and everyone who is involved.
Jesus, in his words, in his approach, in his actions, gives us a picture of how zooming out to a transcendent perspective leads us to relate to God rightly.
But Jesus doesn’t just give us an example. He also makes it possible for us to follow in his footsteps.
Because in this very text Jesus emphasizes that he has broken through the border of the immanent frame, so that we might relate rightly to our transcendent heavenly Father.
Because Christ, God the Son himself, God the transcendent One, invaded the immanent order. He took the immanent on to himself. He burst through that border into a world that had been lulled into living and thinking as if he did not exist. He brought the transcendent into the immanent frame, and thus called his people to redirect their eyes to him – to reorient their lives in the natural world towards supernatural realities.
And that is effectual for many of the people gathered there in Jerusalem. We read in verse thirty-one of some who believe – some who on some level are reconnected by Jesus to the true transcendent God.
And as for them, so it can be for us.
The barrier between the infinite and the finite – the barrier between the holy and the sinful – the barrier between the transcendent and the immanent broken down in the incarnation, the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And though we are not worthy of our transcendent God, though we deserve for him to ignore us just as we have so often ignored him, nonetheless, in Christ he has broken into our world, and called us to himself.
At the heart of the gospel is the fact that out of love, out of grace, God the Father, as we read in verse twenty-eight and twenty-nine, has sent Jesus Christ, his Son, into our world, for us.
And it is in Christ that we who have boxed ourselves into the immanent frame can connect to our transcendent God once again.
Christ is the means by which we connect to our God. He makes it possible … and so what does it look like for us to rely on and follow him?
How do we cultivate the habit of looking beyond the immanent frame? How do we make it less our default to live within those secular borders, and more our habit to consider what lies beyond the natural and is part of the supernatural?
There are, of course, a lot of things we could consider, but let me mention just one.
I think we need to work on cultivating impractical spirituality.
Now, let me clarify what I mean by that.
I’m not saying we need less practical spirituality. I’m saying we need more impractical spirituality. In other words, I’m not treating those as opposites so much as two different categories of things that we need.
We need practical spirituality. And many of you have a wonderfully encouraging dedication to practical spirituality. You know that not only does every Biblical command call us to some sort of practical response, but every Biblical truth has many practical implications. You know that it is all too common for Christians to put a wedge between their spiritual lives and their practical lives. And you are determined to let the truths we hear from God’s word here on Sundays shape the practical aspects of your life Monday through Saturday.
And that is a good instinct. That is a right instinct. We should not desire to reduce that at all. We should always be trying to grow in not only seeing, but living out the practical implications and applications of our faith.
Our text does not detract from that.
But I do think it calls us to add to that.
It calls us to pursue – what I’ll call for lack of a better term – impractical spirituality.
It calls us to pursue spiritual things that have no purpose beyond themselves. It calls us to pursue the transcendent and the supernatural for its own worth. In other words, it calls us to seek God for no other reason besides God.
How often do you seek God … for God?
When is the last time you picked up the Bible or a book on Christian theology or spirituality, and you did it with no practical goal in mind, but instead with the simple primary goal of knowing God more?
As we come to the Scriptures, yes, we ask what God wants us to do. But as we ask what we should do … maybe even before we ask what we should do … we must ask what that passage of the Bible is meant to teach us about God himself.
In other words, before we apply the text to the immanent frame, we must apply it to the vast field of the transcendent.
Every passage of Scripture tells us something about God – what he is like, who he is, what he loves, what he hates.
Even the commands of God tell us about God. And starting with that can change how we interact with God’s commands.
It may be easy to get frustrated with God’s commands against unrighteous anger. And we need wrestle and work to obey those commands. But as we hear such commands, maybe we should first step back and reflect on what it says about God that he hates unrighteous anger. Maybe, we should consider how he never has unrighteous anger towards us. Perhaps we should give thanks that he is a just God who, though he is all powerful, will never hurt anyone unjustly. And there is something beautiful in his just power.
Similarly, its easy to experience Gods sexual commands as a burden. But as we hear such commands, we can reflect that God hates any thought or deed that reduces a person to a mere object for use. He stands against any form of deep intimacy that is divided from loving permanent commitment. And as we think of that, we should reflect on how though God is so high above us, of such greater value than we are … still he never treats us as mere objects – he never strips us of our personhood for his pleasure or convenience. And while God in and of himself owes us nothing, still, he is a God who does not draw close to his people without making a commitment to them – without lovingly binding himself to them by a covenant. We should give thanks for what such commands remind us about the nature of God – about who he is. And we should marvel at the beauty of his holiness.
And we could go on and on through God’s commandments.
But as we consider all this, I want to be clear about one thing: Thinking in those ways does help motivate us to the practical aspect of obeying the commands ourselves. But that’s still not the primary reason we should contemplate such things. The primary reason we should contemplate such impractical spiritual truths about who God is, is to know God better. And to marvel at who he is.
God should be the first goal of such reflections when we come to the Bible.
And the same is true of prayer. We should – we must – pray for practical things. We should not withdraw from that in the least.
But when was the last time you prayed to God mainly about God?
We should pray impractical prayers, along with the practical ones. We should pray about who God is. We should talk to God about himself. We should ask him to help us know him better, and knowing him better should be an end in itself. One of our goals in prayer should be God.
And something similar is true with our thoughts. We think practical thoughts. We shouldn’t stop doing that. But we must also think impractical thoughts. We should think simply on God – on who he is, on how he has revealed himself to us. We should give continued focused attention to God. In other words, we should contemplate him.
He is obviously worthy of such contemplation. He is the One in whom we live and move and have our being.
But how often do you contemplate God? How often do you sit down somewhere, or go for a walk somewhere, without your phone, or a podcast, or an audio book, or a mental list of tasks to think about – no, how often do you intentionally, for a few minutes, try to focus your thoughts on God: On who he is? On his love for you. On his desires for you. On what he has done for you.
If we spend more time week to week thinking about our household budget or next week’s meal plan, than we do thinking about God … then why would we be surprised when our habit of thinking resides in the immanent frame?
Right relationship with God – connection with the transcendent God – is possible because Jesus has broken through. In Christ, the transcendent has become immanent. And in response to that we must intentionally zoom out our perspective to include the transcendent, so that we can relate to both God and this world rightly.
In a sitcom, the realization that a scene is much bigger than we realized – that there is much more going on that we missed – that the events before us include not just three people talking, but dozens of people gathered together – that sudden realization that we missed the bigger point is the hinge of the joke. The incongruity is funny. That’s the whole point.
In that setting it is comedy. But if we live our whole lives that way, it is tragedy. We can, like this crowd, live our entire lives by boxing out most of what is real and true, and most important. And at the end of our lives, when we stand before God, and we see what we have done, when we see that we have misunderstood not only the scene but even the story we are in, that we have lived our lives for all the wrong things, that we have neglected transcendent truth … the proper response will not be laughter, but lament.
And many will choose that path.
But we serve a God of comedy. A God who delights to turn stories upside-down. A God who calls on us, and works in us, to zoom out our perspective well before our lives are over, and then leads us to live from that point forward according to the truth of the whole scene. And when he does that for us in this life – the proper response is joyous laughter.
That is the beauty of the gospel.
The Lord calls on you to step back today. He calls on you to take in the whole scene. He calls on you to see Him.
Let us therefore enter the joy of the gospel, and pursue our transcendent Lord both now and for eternity.
This sermon draws on material from:
Brown, Raymond E. The Gospel According to John. vol.1. Anchor. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1966.
Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. PNTC. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991.
Hurowitz, Mitchell. “Bringing Up Buster” Arrested Development. Season 1, Episode 3. (18:00-20:00)
Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1971.
Smith, James K. A. How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014.
Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.
Wright, N.T. John for Everyone: Part 1. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.