Hidden in Contradiction: Humanity in Christ before, during, and after the Fall
Does God’s grace grab you and stir you to purposeful, Spirit-filled living? Or is the gospel that you hear and preach big on belief and short on embodiment? Do you see a need for change, whether personal, ecclesial, or social, that transcends “us” (righteous) vs. “them” (wicked) polarizations? Beginning with every person’s participation in Christ as a keystone to creation, Jeff McSwain introduces the vibrant reality of Trinitarian community and shows us the dangers of losing sight of the belovedness we share as humans hidden with Christ in God. Avoiding simplistic categories, McSwain exalts the total goodness of every person in this world (by virtue of creation in Christ) while also acknowledging the simultaneous contradiction—the total depravity of every person (by virtue of the fall). If ignoring our human duplicity contributes to relational fractures at every level, McSwain’s dimensional view of human agency urges us to embrace the redemptive truth of our identity in Christ and to refuse our false, destructive selves that have been crucified with Christ. Filled with scriptural exegesis and practical illustrations that pastors and teachers will especially appreciate, this project is a refreshing application of Christology to anthropology and everyday life—an inspiring work of systematic theology aimed at systematic change.
“Jeff McSwain does systematic theology in the cadence of the practice of ministry. Few to no one else can do this like he does. He continually lands doctrine nicely in the reader’s life. McSwain’s rich grasp of Scripture is complemented with stories and analogies unpacking his central idea of a Christological anthropology. Pastors and others seeking a robust theological grounding for gospel embodiment will find this work engaging, challenging, and refreshing.” —Andrew Root, Author of Churches and the Crisis of Decline
“In a society plagued by pervasive and persistent divisions, Jeff McSwain provides a much-needed perspective. His Christ centered theology explains how holding anthropological opposites together is not only possible but necessary in order to better understand ourselves, human behavior, and the miracle of Jesus’ redemptive work. From the preface to the closing essay, I was impressed by the love, vulnerability, and courage that jumps off every page.” —Dishon Mills, Pastor, Grace Communion International
“This book is a brilliant and humble proclamation of God’s goodness that confronts our dichotomies, cheap grace, and false narratives. McSwain’s placemat paradigm beautifully holds together our dualities and offers us space to sit in the tension so that we might see God, ourselves, and our world rightly. Hidden in Contradiction helps us to consider the depths of God’s revelation in Jesus, so that we might know and live in the depths of freedom and joy that this is for all of us.” —Charlene Brown, Former national director, InterVarsity’s Black Campus Ministries
“Jeff McSwain is one of the key contemporary thinkers providing the theological heft the church needs for renewal in the days and years ahead. Right from the start, McSwain’s articulation exhibits a biblical understanding that is more helpful and more hopeful than the norm. ‘Ex vangelical’ church communities have formed in reaction to fearful and divisive ‘us vs. them’ rhetoric, longing for transcendence and meaning, but also largely theologically untethered. McSwain’s provocative work is the ticket home.” —Todd Wiebe, Host of The Rector’s Cupboard
“In this world where beauty and goodness are often overwhelmed by evil and human failure, Jeff McSwain has articulated well what it means to be truly human. He takes seriously who Jesus Christ is, re-envisioning the way we look at God, ourselves, sin, evil, and judgment. He invites us to reconsider what it means to live in the truth of who we really are in Christ, as those who are included in God’s life and love.” —Linda Rex, Pastor and blogger at Our Life in the Trinity
Jeff graduated from Davidson College and has earned two degrees from St. Andrews, an MLitt and a PhD. Along with various articles, his books include Movements of Grace: The Dynamic Christo-Realism of Barth, Bonhoeffer and the Torrances (2010), ‘Simul’ Sanctification: Barth’s Hidden Vision for Human Transformation (2018), Hidden in
Contradiction: Humanity in Christ Before, During, and After the Fall (2023) and The Goodness of Judgement: The Ministry of Christ’s Cross for a Hurting World (upcoming in 2024).
In 2007, Jeff and his wife Susan founded Reality Ministries, Inc, in Durham, NC. The non-profit's mission is "creating opportunities for teens and adults with and without developmental disabilities to
experience belonging, kinship and the life-changing Reality of Christ’s love.” Keen to stay at the interface between systematic theology and practical ministry, in the last fifteen years Jeff and his wife Susan have helped plant a church and launch the North Street Neighborhood, an intentional community (17 houses) near downtown Durham where people of various abilities share life together.
On thirty acres outside of the city, Jeff has recently launched a study and retreat center vision called the Glen. The Glen offers intentional space to reflect on the beauty of the gospel and to consider the significance of Christ for our lives. Go to experiencereality.org and sign up to receive up to receive updates about future events at the Glen.