Tony Jones

Anthony Hawthorne (Tony) Jones (1968-) is an American theologian, author, blogger, and speaker who is a leading figure in the emerging church movement and postmodern Christianity.

Jones graduated from Dartmouth College in 1990 with a B.A. in classics. He then studied at Fuller Theological Seminary, earning a Master of Divinity and specializing in systematic theology and postmodern philosophy in 1993. He then attended Princeton Theological Seminary, but left the school after finishing the coursework for a Ph.D, leaving with ABD status. He later completed his Ph.D. in 2011 with a dissertation on The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church Movement in Practical Theological Perspective, which was then edited and published as The Church is Flat. Jones is ordained within the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.

Jones began his career as the Executive Director of YouthWorks Missions from 1994 to 1997. In 1997-2003 he served as a youth pastor at a church in Edina, Minnesota and in 1999-2008 a chaplain to the city's police department. From 2005 to 2008 Jones was National Coordinator of The Emergent Village. Jones left Emergent Village in 2008 after his position was phased out when the organization tried to create more grassroots involvement, but is still actively involved in organization.

Tony Jones had an affair with a married woman in the Emergent Village organisation. Julie McMahon, ex-wife of Tony Jones, has shared bits and pieces of her experiences of alleged emotional, spiritual, financial, legal, and physical abuse from Tony. She challenged Tony and his “commender” supporters in Emergent Village to apologize for their behaviors during the time of the Jones’ divorce proceedings and afterward.

Jones serves as an adjunct professor at Andover Newton Theological School and Fuller Theological Seminary and is also a visiting lecturer at Rochester College, as well as serving as the Theologian-in-Residence at Soloman's Porch (2009-), the church pastored by Doug Pagitt. Jones' blog, which was formerly hosted by Beliefnet and is currently hosted by Patheos, is one of the most widely-read Christian blogs online.

Jones is the author or editor of several books and dozens of academic articles, writing on subjects such as postmodernism, youth ministry, ecclesiology, the emerging church, spiritual formation and theories of the atonement. He has argued in favor of René Girard's interpretation of the atonement as well as advocating for equal rights for those in the LGBT community.


  • Postmodern Youth Ministry: Exploring Cultural Shift, Cultivating Authentic Community, Creating Holistic Connections (2001)
  • Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality and Contemplative Practices in Youth Ministry (2003)
  • Pray (2003)
  • Read.Think.Pray.Live (2003)
  • Stories of emergence : moving from absolute to authentic (2003) contributed,  Editet by Mike Yaconelli
  • The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (2005)
  • You Converted Me: The Confessions of St. Augustine, editor (2006)
  • Divine Intervention: Encountering God through the Ancient Practice of Lectio Divina (2006) (revision of Read.Think.Pray.Live, 2003)
  • The Most Difficult Journey You’ll Ever Make: The Pilgrim’s Progress, editor (2006)
  • The Practice of the Presence of God, editor (2007)
  • An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, co-editor with Doug Pagitt (2007)
  • Ask Seek Knock: Prayers to Change Your Life (2008) (revision of Pray, 2003).
  • The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier (2008)
  • The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing and Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community (2009)
  • The Church Is Flat: The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church Movement (2011)
  • A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin (2012)
  • Questions That Haunt Christianity: Volume 1 (2013)
  • Phyllis Tickle: Evangelist of the Future (2013)
  • Did God Kill Jesus?: Searching for Love in History's Most Famous Execution (2015)


  • From Faith Undone, p. 104-105:

  • After growing up in a traditional Midwestern church-going family, Jones became disillusioned.  He took a three-month sabbatical from his job to travel to Europe where he visited a prayer center for young people.  Known as the Reading Boiler Room, the center hosted a 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week prayer vigil and called themselves a "Generation X monastery."  Jones also travelled to Dublin, Ireland, where he met with Catholic priest Alan McGuckian and the staff at the Jesuit Communication Center. He then spent time at Taize, a contemplative ecumenical community in southern France.  Jones explains how this physical journey set him on a spiritual journey that revolutionized his thinking and spiritual beliefs (The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life, p. 16):

    I voraciously read authors and books they didn't assign in seminary: St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, and Pilgrim's Way. I met with other Protestants, with Roman Catholics, and with Eastern Ortodox Christians. I took a long hike in the Red Mountains of Utah with a shaman.

The New Christians

  • “No one is better placed than Tony Jones to offer an insider's view of the emergent conversation in the United States. ... Brian McLaren
  • "This is an insider's journal of the journey called emergent Christianity, and it is the book I have been looking for. If you want to know what emergent Christianity is, buy this book, read it, talk about it and then give it to someone else. ..." Scot McKnight
  • "This is the book to read to get the actual insiders’ view of all things emergent." Dan Kimball,

  • Tony Jones in An Emergent Manifest of Hope, p. 130: God's promised future is good, and it awaits us, beckoning us forward. We're caught in the tractor beam of redemption and re-creation, and there's n sense fighting it, so we might as well cooperate.
  • Phyllis Tickle in the foreword in The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life, p. 7-8, says Jones, after spending several years as a Protestant youth pastor "yearned for the passion and clarity that were the church of the first century; who wanted to go - not home - but to what Robert Webber calls "the ancient-future" ... Jones spends himself by shifting through the intervening and obfuscating centuries to ferret out those treasures of the early church's practices that formed the first of us and that, pray God, will form the ancient future that more and more of us long to call home.
  • "... this book is a map back to the ancient-future.”

    From Table of Contents: 3. Silence and Solitude. 4 Sacred Reading 5. The Jesus Prayer 6. Centering Prayer 7. Meditation 8. The Ignatian Examen 9. Icons 12. The Labyrinth 14. Pilgrimage 16. The Sign of the Cross and Other Bodily Prayers

    In the Acknowledge Chapter Tony thanks his good friends on the Journey, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Chris Seay, Tim Keel, Tim Conder, Ivy Beckwith, Rudy Carrasco, Laci Scott, Holly Rankin-Zaher, Mark Scandrette, and Jason Clark.

  • There is a book resource list in  The Sacred Way (p. 214+) which contains among others:

    • Thomas Merton, The Silent Life
    • Henri J. M Nouwen, The Way of the Heart
    • Basil M. Pennington, Lectio Divina: Renewing the Ancient Practice of Praying the Scripture
    • Anonymous, The Cloud of Unknowing
    • Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel
    • Basil M. Pennington, Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form
    • Gregory A. Boyd, Seeing Is Believing: Experience Jesus Throug Imaginative Prayer
    • Anthony DeMello, Wellspring: A Book of Spiritual Exercises ("Combining the traditions of the East and the West, DeMello, a Jesuit priest, offers poetry based on Scripture that leads the believer on a journey.")
    • John Main, Moment of Christ: The Path of Meditation ("Benedictine monk John Main combined Christian teachng with Hindu meditation to form a mantra-type meditation.")
    • Ignatius of Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius
    • Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Matthew Linn, Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives you Life ("The authors lead Ignatian retreats in hospitals and at retreat centers;")
    • Henry J. M. Nouwen, Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying with Icons
    • William A. Barry and William J. Connoly, The Practice of Spiritual Direction.  ("Both Barry and Connolly are Jesuit priests involved the rebirth of spiritual direction durng the 1970s.")
    • Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction

  • Tony Jones studied under Miroslav Volf. Jürgen Moltmann served as a mentor to Miroslav Volf at University of Tübingen when Volf completed his doctorate and post-doctorate studies. Volf has written at least two books in honour of Moltmann.
  • Tony Jones consider himself a Moltmanniac.
  • Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones arranged “The 2009 Emergent Village Theological Conversation with Jurgen Moltmann”.
  • Tony Jones consider Jürgen Moltmann's God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God as the ur-text i Fuller's DMin program.
  • From the back cover of The Church Is Flat (2011): In The Church Is Flat, Dr. Tony Jones uses his research into eight emerging church congregations to propose that the movement is moving toward the "relational ecclesiology" introduced by theologican Jurgen Moltmann.
  • Did God Kill Jesus? (2015) is endorsed by Shane Claiborne, Phyllis Tickle and Brian McLaren.
  • The Church Is Flat (2011) is back cover endorsed by Phyllis Tickle and Brian McLaren.
  • Tony Jones endorsed Leonard Sweet's The Three Hardest Words in the World to Get Right (2006).
  • The bibliography in Read, Think, Pray, Live (2003), by Tony Jones includes The Classical Monastical Practice of Lectio Divina, by Thomas Keating, Lectio Divina by Basil M. Pennington and Words to Savor by Eugene Peterson.


When I wrote The Sacred Way, editors and Zondervan made me take out two passages: one that mentioned drinking a beer, and one that referred to a yoga pose. (It didn’t matter that the pose I mentioned was in the context of a spiritual retreat led by Zondervan partner, Youth Specialties and Mike Yaconelli.) No yoga. No way.

Then, of course, Doug [Pagitt] went on CNN to debate John MacArthur about yoga, seen above. At the time, Doug had done yoga, but I wouldn’t say it was a part of his daily life. Well, it is now, and his wife Shelley runs a non-profit yoga studio at Solomon’s Porch (she’s at the center of the photo above). And I take yoga classes a couple times a week at Life Time Fitness.
Back in those days, I’d be asked about yoga at conferences, and I’d say that I had no problem with it. ...

And that’s what made me smile last night in yoga. That, and the fact that I could do yoga for the first time in over a month, since my back injury. And the fact that my wife, Courtney, was teaching the class.

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