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The wood between the worlds | theopoetics of the Cross with Brian Zahnd

The Cross is the heart of Scripture.

Season 13, episode 301
56 min / Published

Bonjour! Stephanie here. Obviously, I love every single guest I welcome on the show because otherwise, I wouldn't welcome them. And I read every single book. But once in a while, there's one that makes you pause, take a deep breath, and ponder deeply. This is what happened when I read “The Wood Between the Worlds” by Brian Zahnd. Just take a moment and ponder the title itself – I know I keep coming back to its profound poetry. It's about the Cross: Jesus and the Cross, the meanings of the Cross.

Brian opens his book with these words: “I dare to write about God, which is admittedly an audacious undertaking. That a bit of sentient soil would venture to say something about the nature of the ineffable eternal must seem like the most absurd of fools errands. And yet, I venture. I cannot help myself. The depth of my fascination with the one who is the answer to the question of why there is something instead of nothing makes it impossible for me to remain silent on the subject. And when I dare to speak about God, I do so not as the idly curious but as a reverent worshipper. I seek to understand God not as a cold and dispassionate scientist, a “God-ologist,” if you will, but as one who prays, worships, and kneels before his maker.

“The Wood Between the Worlds” is made of 20 short chapters, each one a precious chocolate nugget nestled inside a fancy box. There is something Forrest Gump-like about it, too. Some of these chapters will probably unsettle you. You may not agree with everything. Just like with a box of chocolates, there might be some you like more, others less. Some spices may feel a little too pungent or not quite to your taste. And that's okay: if we only read things that we totally agree with all the time, things we completely understand, things that never challenge us, how then shall we grow? So, I invite you to be prepared to be shocked, maybe even to disagree with some of the things Brian writes. And that's okay. It's a good thing. I don't ask you to agree with everything in the book, but I would invite you to please consider allowing it to challenge you, as it has me. To do otherwise is to emulate the cancel culture we speak so easily against.

Brian's publisher, InterVarsity Press, is giving away several copies of his book “The Wood Between the Worlds,” to Gospel Spice listeners. You need to be signed up for our newsletter to receive the email that will be sent out a few days after this episode airs. So, if you're not signed up, make sure to sign up now to the Gospel Spice newsletter so you can enter for a chance to win a copy of Brian's book. I'm telling you, it’s totally worth it. It’s at gospelspice.com/signup !


The Cross is the heart of Scripture. Everything about the gospel message leads to the cross, and proceeds from the cross. In fact, within the narrative of Scripture, the crucifixion of Jesus is literally the crux of the story―the axis upon which the biblical story turns. But it would be a mistake to think we could sum up the significance of the crucifixion in a tidy sentence or two. That kind of thinking only insulates us from the magnificence of what God has done. In our ongoing quest to make meaning of the cross, we need to recognize that this conversation will never conclude―that there is always something more to be said.

Brian Zahnd reminds us that the meaning of the cross is multifaceted and should touch every aspect of our lives. Just as gazing through the eyepiece of a kaleidoscope reveals a new geometric image with every turn, Zahnd helps us see that there are infinite ways to behold the cross of Christ as the beautiful form that saves the world. The Wood Between the Worlds is an invitation to encounter the cross of Christ anew.


Brian Zahnd is the founder and lead pastor of Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, Missouri. He is also a pastor-theologian who has authored eleven books, including Sinners In the Hands of a Loving God, When Everything’s on Fire, and The Wood Between the Worlds. Brian is enthusiastic about music, literature, mountains, and long-distance pilgrimages.

Find more at https://brianzahnd.com/

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This episode is part of the GUEST INTERVIEWS | Taste & See that the Lord is good series
Stephanie invites you to discover the amazing journeys of our guests
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