Found in the Middle! Theology and Ethics for Christians Who Are Both Liberal and Evangelical


From 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