James W. Thompson
Christians have become more and more a minority group in American culture, and so now find themselves in a situation similar to the early Christians-facing the challenge of living as cultural exiles. THE CHURCH IN EXILE draws upon the epistle of 1 Peter, which was written to "exiles," to help us learn how to live faithfully when many around us do not share Christian values.
Because Christians in America now belong to a distinctly minority group, their behavior will increasingly be considered strange to the majority of the population. This new situation presents Christians with demanding tests--on the job, at school, and in our relationships with neighbors. We are now discovering the challenge of being Christians when that is not a popular identity.
During the first four centuries, Christians met in small house churches surrounded by neighbors and even family members who scorned their beliefs and their morality. 1 Peter was written to such believers. The "alien" Christians who first read 1 Peter were not strangers in their own lands because of their skin colors or their nationalities. Their obedience to the call of Christ had made them exiles.
According to 1 Peter, Christians are "aliens and exiles" (2:11). The Christian life is similar to the Israelites in Egypt or Babylon, who also did not assimilate into the larger population. So today, how do we find the resources to live as exiles? The epistle of 1 Peter is a sermon that was originally preached to offer such resources. THE CHURCH IN EXILE applies this message to Christians in Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago in the early twenty-first century, showing us how to live as a counterculture in a non-Christian world.
James W. Thompson's Bible study books have been used widely by churches and study groups for many years, and his Bible commentaries and works of pastoral theology are used by many pastors. His books include Our Life Together, The Mark of a Christian, Strategy for Survival: A Plan for Church Renewal from Hebrews, Equipped for Change: Studies in the Pastoral Epistles, Pastoral Ministry according to Paul: A Biblical Vision, Preaching Like Paul, and commentaries on 2 Corinthians and Hebrews. He serves as professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas. He holds a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University and a B.D. from the Union Theological Seminary in New York. He served as an associate editor of The Transforming Word One-Volume Commentary on the Bible (2009). He and his wife Carolyn live in Abilene, Texas.