First authorized biography of Walter Brueggemann

By Conrad Kanagy — author of the “A Church Dismantled — A Kingdom Restored” book series

In his widely acclaimed four-book series “A Church Dismantled – A Kingdom Restored,” published late last year, sociologist of religion and longtime pastor Conrad L. Kanagy suggests that the Spirit of God is dismantling the socially constructed western church. This series has quickly gained traction among readers of all Christian faith traditions and those who have left the church, been hurt by the church, and are marginalized within the church.

Kanagy’s thesis that God removes the cloaks or barriers that covered the “Jesus of the Gospels” has also met with resistance, especially among those in more fundamentalist evangelical streams. “The mystics and main protagonists have been fertile ground for this gospel message of the necessary death and resurrection of the institutionalized church,” the author states.

In his endorsement of the first book in the series, Professor Walter Brueggemann notes: “Conrad Kanagy is able to say things and cross many impossible boundaries in a more sober mode. As a result, he is able to juxtapose odd partners, push the extremities of exposition, and do a sweeping sweep of scripture. The subtext of his writing is the scriptural account in which the biblical faith community, in its distortion and stubbornness, has been dismantled to make way for a genuine mission community. Kanagy’s subject is the church, in all its failures and possibilities, governed by the Spirit of God. Those who care about the church and its testimony will be nourished and guided by this wise book.

Kanagy is currently writing the first authorized biography of Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus of Columbia Theological Seminary and long known as the leading Old Testament theologian and scholar of recent decades.

“I am interested in Walter’s story as a sociologist who first came to his work fifteen years ago while conducting a research project within my own denomination – Mennonite Church USA. Reading Brueggemann and using the book of Jeremiah as a framework for my writings, I remember thinking, “Perhaps the Spirit of God is dismantling the Church because we have failed so much in the mission of God in the world that God so loved and still loves so much. And nothing I’ve seen in the last fifteen years has changed my feeling that this is what God is up to!”

Documenting and interpreting Walter’s story is part of Kanagy’s ongoing search for answers about what God is doing in the church, the world, and the Kingdom of God. His hope is to expand and amplify Walter’s prophetic voice and imagination for a 21stThe Church of the Century which, according to Kanagy, “desperately needs a prophetic word grounded in evangelical piety that is neither shaped by the false justice of an ‘orthodox’ right nor by accommodation to the dominant culture and an abandonment of Jesus by the radical left”.

Reverend Dr. Conrad Kanagy is a professor of sociology at Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA. The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College has named Kanagy their 2022 Summer Fellow. Kanagy expects the book to be published in the spring of 2023. To subscribe to Kanagy’s blog, to order the book series “Church Dismantled” and to register for an April 1 webinar that includes a recorded interview with Walter Brueggemann, visit


Conrad L. Kanagy
A dismantled church
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.

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