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Calvin College Press

James K. A. Smith Discipleship in the Present TenseDiscipleship in the Present Tense: Reflections on Faith and Culture (2012)

by James K. A. Smith

In this accessible, insightful book, noted Christian scholar and award-winning author James K. A. Smith gathers together a range of his writing for popular audiences.  Working at the intersection of faith and culture, past and present, church and world, Smith offers both incisive cultural criticism and winsome articulation of a robust Christian faith in our "secular age."

Whether he's making a case for the enduring treasures of the Christian tradition in postmodernity, or talking about the virtues of "hipster" Christianity, or inviting us to consider the poetry of Charles Wright, or offering advice to young parents, Smith’s prose is always probing, provocative, and illuminating.

View the Table of Contents

Paperback: 978-1937555-08-5, $14.99
eBook: 978-1937555-09-2, $9.99

Where to Purchase

Buy now from

Calvin College Campus Store: 616-526-6376 or 800-748-0122


Few people are as qualified as James K. A. Smith to write a book on the intersection of faith and culture. Whenever he speaks, I listen. In this book, you’ll find winsome but profound essays on following Jesus in the 21st century. Read it and be challenged.
— Jonathan Merritt
faith and culture writer; author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars

Delivering profound insight in stunningly lucid prose, Smith focuses on the importance of both imagination and embodiment, not only in worship and education, but also through the arts. Drawing attention to beauty in architecture, poetry, and music, as well as through sacramental practices, Smith celebrates "creational abundance," which he beautifully presents as our "culture-making mandate."
— Crystal Downing
Distinguished Professor of English and
Film Studies, Messiah College

Discipleship in the Present Tense reflects on the intersections of faith and culture in our contemporary world. "Intersections" may bring to mind two roads meeting at right angles, with stop signs. The intersections in this book are more like freeway cloverleafs: the traffic keeps moving. Suggestion: start at the end, with two interviews that are real conversations, not perfunctory Q&As. Then pick and choose, tapas-style, from the tasty selection of essays.
— John Wilson
editor, Books & Culture

About the Author

James K. A. Smith
Professor of Philosophy
Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview
Calvin College
Grand Rapids, MI

Follow James K. A. Smith

Twitter: @james_ka_smith


Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds writes:

"Many of us find it hard to find much time for heavy, sustained reading of long nonfiction works. Short essays and stand-alone chapters are perfect to dip into when you have a few minutes, waiting for an appointment, between laundry loads, to read out-loud over dinner, on the subway, in the bathroom. (There, I said it.) Maybe you aren't able in this season of life to work through bigger volumes. This is one you can handle, and you will be glad you did. It's very vocabulary and its wonderful line of vision will remind you of God's goodness, and how we can be salt and light in a good but hurting world. Won't you help us get this book known? Order some today, please. We will join you in being grateful for public intellectuals, deep thinkers who serve God's people, even we who need these sorts of short primers.

Short chapters on big themes by a Reformed Pentecostal philosopher who likes hockey and fine architecture. and blue-collar poetry. What's not to like?" Read Byron's whole review at Hearts & Minds

Review by Steve Lim

Encounter: Journal for Pentecostal Ministry, Summer 2014, Vol 11

Review from Freedom In Orthodoxy

Blogger Review of Discipleship in the Present Tense