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Filled to Be Emptied: The Path to Liberation for Privileged People

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself . . . (Philippians 2:5-7a)

These ancient words offer a guide for modern Christians wrestling with their privileged place in an unequal and unjust world. The Kenosis Hymn (as this passage quoted by the apostle Paul is known) celebrates Jesus for his willingness to forego the divine glory that he is due, instead humbling himself to serve the oppressed and outcast of his society.

Through a combination of in-depth Bible study and social analysis, Filled to Be Emptied invites readers to explore the hymn verse by verse and see Jesus’ self-emptying example as a model for privileged people to see their advantages not “as something to be exploited” but as something to be laid aside to seek the good of others.

Brandan J. Robertson walks readers through a step-by-step process of identifying their privilege, exploring their privilege, and ultimately leveraging their privilege as a tool for the liberation and redemption of the world. Filled to Be Emptied is an essential book for all followers of Christ who are seeking to live lives of justice.


 Fantastic Read for Fed Up Christians
Filled to Be Emptied is a phenomenal book for Christians who have been struggling to reconcile what they read in the bible with what they see in American church culture. As a person who feels traumatized by the White Christian Nationalism that has been demonstrated so violently in the past few years, this book was a call to arms. Filled to Be Emptied reflects exactly how disenchanted I’ve become with the church from the local level to the global enterprise of modern Christianity. It perfectly captures the dissonance between Jesus’s teachings and how the scripture is portrayed in our pulpits on Sunday morning. The idea of following Jesus in example and principle instead of blindly perpetuating the privilege and violent of white colonized Christianity is a concept that shouldn’t be as radical as it is.
I enjoyed the author’s perspective and his admission of conflict in challenging his own systems of privilege and prejudice. His research and clear language allowed me to draw on my own experiences with white privilege and church culture as I read the truths he unpacked. Filled to Be Emptied is a must read for anyone undergoing their own death and rebirth of faith in Jesus.
Perfect for study groups or self reflection and growth>What an important, radical book that every single Christian in mainstream and progressive churches alike needs to read! Establishing what privilege is through clear illustration and interesting personal story, Robertson quickly shows that privilege isn’t a word that straight, white, Christians need to immediately resist and react to with outrage, but that it is a morally neutral word that just represents something inherently present in the systems that have been established to benefit those who established the systems. If the phrase white privilege causes you to immediately recoil and want to lash out, please consider that this book really will have something to offer you, especially if you are a seeking Christ-follower but weary from all the social and political conversation that feels personally threatening. And while written from the perspective of a white, male Christian to seemingly other white male Christians, the challenges and insights presented are very relevant and applicable to any person wanting to more closely live a life according to the precepts of Christ.
In addition to teaching how to follow Jesus through a hymn of the early church found in Paul’s letters, the author offers a fascinating new perspective of Paul, different from what is usually taught from traditional evangelical pulpits. The author’s insights also flesh out Jesus in a new, admirable way, making the reader yearn to sit at Jesus’ feet (reading the red letters highlighting Jesus’ words in the Bible) and learn his ways. Using Scripture, leading theologians’ quotes, and learned understanding of the Hebrew Bible and history, Robertson teaches in a way that is fresh and relevant, challenging and showing the reader how to read and understand the Scripture in a more accurate way—much like in “Saving the Bible from Ourselves” (IVP Books, 2016) by Glenn Paauw (President, Institute for Bible Reading).

“Filled to Be Emptied” radically teaches profound yet hard-to-face truths about the history and state of the current American church and Christianity that most mainstream pastors would be afraid to utter for fear of, at a minimum, alienating congregants and losing financial support, and at worst, receiving outrageous threats of harm. But the book’s purpose is not to insult and trigger, or to instill guilt and condemnation, leaving the reader to languish in their hopeless state. It is an encouraging lesson on how to change course now, to the benefit of every single person and our earthly home—redirection that will bless both those who now enjoy privilege and those oppressed and in need of mercy. We will all flourish, in the ways that count, when everyone has the chance to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Without judgement, Robertson calls us to choose—to become a part of the solution, to help draw in the kingdom of God, to help restore the world to the Edenic state of wholeness that the Creator intended. Will we make the radical shift necessary to become a true follower of Jesus? I plan to recommend this transformational book to every pastor I know, to anyone who teaches Sunday school classes, those who have home or life groups, and everyone I know of who has the desire to become a part of the solution and is willing to evolve into a more dynamic, restorative Christian. There are wonderfully meaty discussion prompts at the end of each chapter. The questions are probing, thought-provoking, and would work both for personal reflection and stimulating group discussion.
A must have

All of the other reviews are spot on. I could not have said it better. Thank you to all the other reviews for saying what I would have said. I love the discussion questions at the end of each section. I really was learning information like I have never been able to really appreciate and have a better understanding before. I learned so much new information that I totally understand and made so much sense. I am recommending this book to my church book club as a must read a discussion afterwards. I want to try to work this in also with our Bible study group. Excellent book. Needs to be in your religious library. Thank you Rev. Brandan Robertson

A small sized book with BIG truths inside.Not much to add to what other reviewers have already so brilliantly said. I have read several books over the last 2 years to open my mind and heart to what I personally need to contribute to the world around me to make it a better place. Adding this to your reading list is a great way to engage in a much needed conversation with yourself and others while moving forward with the actions needed to create a more Loving place for everyone.
Rev. Brandan Robertson is a noted spiritual thought-leader, contemplative activist, and commentator, working at the intersections of spirituality, sexuality, and social renewal and the author of Nomad: A Spirituality For Travelling Light and writes regularly for Patheos, Beliefnet, and The Huffington Post. He has published countless articles in respected outlets such as TIME, NBC, The Washington Post, Religion News Service, and Dallas Morning News. As sought out commentator of faith, culture, and public life, he is a regular contributor to national media outlets and has been interviewed by outlets such as MSNBC, NPR, SiriusXM, TIME Magazine, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Associated Press. He leads Metanoia, a digital spiritual community at

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