Fortress Press

Great Cloud of Witnesses: How the Dead Make a Living Church

Great Cloud of Witnesses

How the Dead Make a Living Church

Jackson Lashier (Author)


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Protestant Christians should venerate the saints. This shocking claim lies at the heart of Great Cloud of Witnesses. In it, Jackson Lashier presents the practice's biblical foundations and highlights the Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead: those who have died in Christ are still living in hope of final resurrection, and in that state, they serve as witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), actively supporting modern Christians as they seek to live faithful lives of discipleship.

Each chapter tells the story of a different saint--six men and six women from varying places, times, and traditions--both to connect them to readers as spiritual companions and to relate more practical lessons from the saints' lives. Readers will encounter different and more creative ways of reading Scripture, learn how important doctrines (e.g., the Trinity) developed from Scripture, and experience ways of living like a monk, even while having a job and a family. The stories are told chronologically, giving Protestant readers the added benefit of a greater knowledge of church history.

Because Protestants are often skeptical of saint veneration, the book addresses common objections: Are the saints divine? Does our devotion to the saints take away from our devotion to Christ? Are the saints without sin? Who decides who gets to be a saint? Through this book, Protestant readers will gain a greater appreciation of the saints and the spiritual practice of saint veneration, as well as the motivation to engage it for themselves.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506489650
  • eBook ISBN 9781506489667
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 213
  • Publication Date September 19, 2023


"A quiet revolution is underway in Christian theology. East and West, Protestant and Catholic, theologians are working to renew Christianity by retrieving long-neglected beliefs and practices. In Great Cloud of Witnesses, Jackson Lashier adds his voice to the chorus by challenging Protestants in particular to recover the role of the saints in discipleship, formation, and biblical interpretation. This is a tall order--on par with recovering the practices of penance and demon exorcism. Lashier makes a case for the saints that is both convincing and inspiring."

Jason E. Vickers, William J. Abraham Professor of Theology and Wesleyan Studies, Baylor University

"Is there a biblical case for living out our Christian life in communion with the holy dead? The traditional Protestant answer is a resounding 'No.' Lashier helpfully shows us that this answer needs deeper reflection, and enlists a great cloud of witnesses to help us see why this is so. What emerges is a fecund vision of the church and her sacred book, and of the many companions who join us along our way to Christ, whether we realize it or not."

Justus H. Hunter, associate professor of church history, United Theological Seminary

"Protestants typically have an uneasy relationship with the tradition of the saints. As a result, we miss the many benefits--dare I say, blessings--that come from a deeper appreciation of the 'great cloud of witnesses' who have preceded us. In this wonderful book, Jackson Lashier addresses concerns that deter Protestants from revering the saints of old, challenges us to rethink our often-misinformed conceptions about them, and highlights lessons from their lives so that we too may run well the race marked out for us."

Anthony Briggman, associate professor of Early Christianity, Candler School of Theology, Emory University