The "before" of this title is not temporal but spatial. Stroup (theology, Columbia Theological Seminary, GA) argues that "human beings are created to live before the face of and in the sight of God" and that this "beforeness" is the most important fact about human life. According to Stroup, "there has been an eclipse of life before God," both in theology and in Christian living today, and he calls for a return to practices that would emphasize doxology and gratitude, foundational aspects of life before God. Stroup provides a thorough analysis of the implications of what he perceives to be a significant loss, including exploring sin and grace from this perspective. Many readers, however, will be taken aback by his utter dismissal of the 20th century's philosophical turn to the subject, the focus on a transcendent God (rather than an imminent one), the downplaying of community as constitutive of Christian life, and his descriptions of sin as "total depravity" and much more than mere immoral behavior. Stroup is aware of contemporary theological discussions but seems to want to return to a time before their emergence. Although he provides a good summary of the coram Deo concept, his argument is unlikely to appeal to the average reader. For specialized collections only.-Sheila B. Peiffer, Acad. of the Holy Names, Albany, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.