Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear, Revised and Updated Edition

Choosing Trust over Safety in an Anxious Age

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Fear has taken on an outsized role in our current cultural and political context. Manufactured threats are advanced with little to no evidence of danger, while real threats are exaggerated for self-interested gain. This steady diet of fear produces unhealthy moral lives, leading many Christians to focus more on the dangers we wish to avoid than the goods we wish to pursue. As a fearful people, we are tempted to make safety our highest good and to make virtues of suspicion, preemption, and accumulation. But this leaves the church ill-equipped to welcome the stranger, love the enemy, or give to those in need.

This timely resource brings together cultural analysis and theological insight to explore a Christian response to the culture of fear. Laying out a path from fear to faithfulness, theologian Scott Bader-Saye explores practices that embody Jesus's call to place our trust in him, inviting Christian communities to take the risks of hospitality, peacemaking, and generosity. This book has been revised throughout, updated to connect with today's readers, and includes new discussion questions.

1. Fear for Profit
2. Fear and the Moral Life
3. Why Fearlessness Is a Bad Idea
4. Putting Fear in Its Place
5. Community and Courage
6. Trust and Hope
7. Narrative and Providence
8. Security and Vulnerability
9. The Risk of Hospitality
10. The Risk of Peacemaking
11. The Risk of Generosity


"In this important book, updated to reflect the difficult realities we now face, Scott Bader-Saye reminds us that the only way to break through a life of fear is by embracing a different way, a way of love. This is not easy work, but it is crucial work, and in these pages we learn how to risk much for God's dream of a better world."

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; author of Love Is the Way: Holding On to Hope in Troubling Times

"In a culture consumed by anxiety and divided against itself, Scott Bader-Saye's Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear couldn't have come at a better time. Bader-Saye tackles the most pressing moral challenges of our day: the dangers of American exceptionalism, of stoking fear for profit, and of manufacturing fear of the stranger in our midst. Bracing in its honesty and inspiring in its call for a risky faith, Bader-Saye's book offers readers biblical wisdom and well-founded hope for our turbulent times."

Joy Ann McDougall, associate professor of systematic theology, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

Praise for the First Edition

"What a marvelously lucid, engaging, and convincing book. Scott Bader-Saye singles out fear as the defining and largely self-imposed burden of our world. He diagnoses it with the aid of the great theologians and illustrates it from popular, personal, and political contexts. Not content with diagnosis, he offers a cure--cogent, compassionate, and Christian. This is an author who thinks with the practical wisdom of Aquinas and writes with an infectious zest. Here is a fresh voice to challenge and transform the anxieties of church and world."

Samuel Wells, vicar, St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church; visiting professor of Christian ethics, King's College London

"Scott Bader-Saye offers us Christian practical wisdom we desperately need. Through insightful examples as well as rich biblical and theological analysis, Bader-Saye beautifully invites us to trust God and to risk hospitality, peacemaking, and generosity. This is a profoundly hopeful, and hope-filled, book."

L. Gregory Jones, Duke Divinity School

"Bader-Saye has written a timely and provocative book concerning Christian resources of faith in a culture besot by fear. His diagnosis of a pervasive system of anxiety, rooted in Enlightenment reductionism, is on target; but more important is his assessment of the capacity of communitarian courage to act as a transformative alternative to fear. Bader-Saye draws upon compelling contemporary cases of such courageous action but shows, with equally compelling articulation, how such courage finally is deeply rooted in God's providence. His book is a bold theological exposition that has immediate and rich pastoral derivatives, all in the interest of an intentional church community acting congruently with its confession of faith."

Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Could it be that an account of providence is the key if we are to escape the fear that possesses Americans? Most would surely think an affirmative answer would be absurd. But that is exactly what Bader-Saye argues. He does so by providing an account of providence that does not promise safety but rather something far more important, that is, a way to go on with courage when we are not always able to 'make sense' of what has happened. His ability to help us 'see' our world through film and literature is itself a display of theological intelligence as rare as it is necessary."

Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School

The Author

  1. Scott Bader-Saye

    Scott Bader-Saye

    Scott Bader-Saye (PhD, Duke University) holds the Helen and Everett H. Jones Chair in Christian Ethics and Moral Theology at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, where he also serves as academic dean. He is the author of Formed by Love and...

    Continue reading about Scott Bader-Saye


Praise for the First Edition

"Many, especially the mainline denominations, can learn much form this cogently argued and elegantly written volume."

Publishers Weekly

"Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear is a call to discipleship in its truest form--without obsession and preoccupation with the costs or dangers of daily life. . . . Bader-Saye's description of providence gives us a reasonable context in which to live. . . . Once we begin to understand that God is present with us in whatever circumstances surround our lives, ultimately redeeming every event of human existence, fear can be put in its place."

Kathy Brawley,

Covenant Companion

"Bader-Saye shares a great perspective on fear, one of the most abused commodities in our culture. His encouragement to follow Jesus is exactly the antidote we need."

John Dunham,

YouthWorker Journal

"A timely and well-written book."

Anthony B. Robinson,

The Christian Century

"While Bader-Saye's book extracts illustrations from many aspects of life, his most perceptive examples often come from his reflections on parenting. Young parents, especially, are prone to being persuaded by people benefiting from keeping them in a state of fear about their children. . . . Parents will be challenged by this book! Bader-Saye does an excellent job of pointing out how our culture perpetuates a constant state of fear, offers insights into how to navigate fidelity to Christ in such a culture, and suggests practices for Christians to follow (hospitality, peacemaking, generosity) in order to live counter culturally. The book is challenging and encouraging, and the discussion questions at the end of each chapter make it an ideal small-group resource."

Derek Melleby,


"Truly great. . . . Through helpful use of movie scenes and popular novels, and serious Bible study, Scott helps us all move towards a life of love, learning to embody the hospitality of Christ, and engage in peacemaking ministries. Good discussion questions, too, making this an ideal tool for study groups."

Byron Borger,

Hearts and Minds Books

"This is an excellent choice for an adult class or mission committee seeking to explore new ways to follow the Gospels."

Carrie Berry,

Presbyterians Today

"If you struggle with fear preventing you from truly following Jesus the way He has called us to, this might be the perfect book for you."

Adam Griffin,

YouthWorker Journal

"Bader-Saye invites us to allow God's grace to put fear in its place and offers an illuminating discussion of 'providence.'. . . I recommend this profound book to those interested in this topic. It provides a thoughtful reaction to our culture of fear."

Michael Snarr,

Quaker Life

"A relevant and practical resource for the academic world as well as leaders in the church. . . . This is not your average pre-dinner appetizer topic. It is a meaty portion of biblical insight and truth every Christ-follower needs to read. . . . Although it is not an easy or quick read, I believe Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear is an important read for the life of the Church today."

Dale Lewis,

Sweet Lou Productions