Christianity’s Surprise – A Sure and Certain Hope

C. Kavin Rowe

October 20, 2020 – Abingdon Press

At its beginning Christianity was surprising, powerful, creative, world-shaking. Today in the West it is many times familiar, common, and expected, losing its power to surprise and transform. We have developed societal amnesia and ignorance of what Christianity originally was – and what it still can be. We need to recover the surprise of Christianity. We need to ask the same fundamental questions as the early Christians, which will help us rediscover the surprising power of Christianity in our midst. Focusing on the surprise of the gospel message takes us into the heart of what it is to understand Christianity at all, and thus what it is to remember and relearn the life-giving power and witness that went with being Christian at the beginning. This remembering and relearning can, in turn, surprise us all over again and chart a course for our witness today.


This project focuses on recovering the original “surprise” that Christianity presented to the world, and the significance of such a surprise for a range of areas in contemporary life—health care, law, education, and so forth. Dr. C. Kavin Rowe will explain several biblical and early Christian texts as a way to show how the early Christians understood the divine gift that had come into the world and what it required of them in their life together and towards outsiders. A central feature of Christianity’s original surprise was the vision of the human being created in God’s image. Orienting ourselves by a Christian view of the human is necessary to realize Christianity’s once and future surprise. When it comes to contemporary issues, Christianity’s surprise requires us to think creatively about what we ought to do and be in light of ancient wisdom about who we are in Christ.