Fortress Press

Priestly Presence: A Church for the World’s Sake

Priestly Presence

A Church for the World’s Sake

John C. Nugent (Author)


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The Western church is in a state of decline, chaos, and confusion, while the wider world remains divided on how to heal its broken societies. Too many Christian approaches to engaging that wider world put believers at odds with one another and compromise their witness. We need a fresh approach that pinpoints the problems, fosters church unity, and strengthens Christian witness.

Priestly Presence frames church-world relations in terms of the fourfold office of Christ: prophet, priest, king, and servant. This framework enables a new approach that integrates the strengths of existing efforts while overcoming their liabilities. It centers its reflections on the priestly witness.

Scripture identifies God's people as a priestly community. We should relate to unbelievers as Israel's priests did to wider Israel. Too often we reduce the priestly image to that of a narrow caste of temple servants, yet the majority of Israel's priestly line served broader functions. Developing a priestly model rooted in this wider view provides the church with a compelling vision for carrying out its priestly vocation to the world.

Priestly Presence explores five dimensions of holistic priestly service. These include priestly residence, hospitality, stewardship, witness, and praise. Nugent explores the meaning of each dimension for church-world relations and fleshes out several practical implications for local congregations. In so doing, he provides a compelling approach to church-world relations that today's fractured church desperately needs.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506494043
  • eBook ISBN 9781506494050
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 190
  • Publication Date May 21, 2024


It isn't often that a deeply theological book, rooted in scriptural expertise and imagination, is as accessible and pastoral as is Priestly Presence: A Church for the World's Sake. Even as he wades deeply into complex and controversial topics, John Nugent repeatedly makes things understandable to readers at all levels: he breaks things down into practical applications, easy-to-follow categories, and helpful definitions and illustrations. But don't be fooled by its readability--Priestly Presence offers a loving but unflinching critique of defective understandings of the church and its mission that permeate nearly all branches of mainstream Christianity. Even more important, Nugent offers a path forward toward a more adequate understanding of the church and its connection to God's kingdom--a map of sorts from which Christians across the traditional divides (e.g., Protestant and Catholic, Reformed and Anabaptist, evangelical and Pentecostal, mainline and marginal) can discern roads worth traveling as they seek to follow The Way of the risen Lord. Priestly Presence offers generous amounts of critique and remedy, to the benefit of readers and the entire Christian movement.

Michael L. Budde, PhD, professor of Catholic studies and political science, Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, DePaul University, and author of Foolishness to Gentiles: Essays on Empire, Nationalism, and Discipleship

The news media surround-sounds us with politics and elections, twenty-four/seven. It has become impossible not to take a stand, not to develop a view, not to form a politics. It's also possible to do all this without solid footings in the gospel or the design of God for his people to be witnesses in the world. John Nugent's very clever and compelling model of the fourfold office of Christ as the Christian posture toward politics will prove to be useful to all who listen carefully. Even more, his five dimensions of a Revised Priestly Model challenged me on every page. May God use this book to revive the church into being what the church is designed by God to be and to become agents of redemption in this world.

Scot McKnight, Julius R. Mantey Chair of New Testament, Northern Seminary