Great book! Although published in the 50s, it's "missional," before the term was trendy (or even coined). Shands combines a high view of the church, o...moreGreat book! Although published in the 50s, it's "missional," before the term was trendy (or even coined). Shands combines a high view of the church, of liturgy, and the sacraments, with neighborhood (parish)-based model of mission and every-day church life. This book contains the seeds that can keep the current "missional" movement anchored to the deep roots of the Christian tradition.(less)
Essential reading for all Christians. Non-Christians can also read this and profit from his careful analysis of different views of justice. As the phi...moreEssential reading for all Christians. Non-Christians can also read this and profit from his careful analysis of different views of justice. As the philosophers he quotes point out, discussions of "justice" always involve our view of ultimate reality, so "justice" is always a religious question.(less)
Russell Moore has written an excellent analysis of temptation in a work that is easily one of the best theological books I've read. His grasp of bibli...moreRussell Moore has written an excellent analysis of temptation in a work that is easily one of the best theological books I've read. His grasp of biblical theology, typology, culture, and human nature is stunning. Additionally, his "psychology of the demonic" is perhaps unsurpassed since C.S. Lewis's "Screwtape Letters." His pastoral wisdom throughout the book in invigorating, mostly because he pulls no punches. There is no false comfort here, but there is true comfort--we are victorious in Jesus Christ, but we will battle and struggle until the day we die. As he writes: "You cannot triumph over temptation. Only Jesus can." A must-read for all Christians!(less)
This is simply an outstanding book! Ken Wytsma has brought theological and practical depth to the contemporary Christian "justice" discussion. Ken rec...moreThis is simply an outstanding book! Ken Wytsma has brought theological and practical depth to the contemporary Christian "justice" discussion. Ken recognizes that justice is a fad for many post-modern Christians, but Ken spends the first few chapters building a theology of justice firmly grounded in Scripture. What I appreciate most about Ken's book is his measured approach. While he is clearly a passionate advocate for justice (through his work with World Relief, Food for the Hungry, and Kilns College), he brings Biblical balance and wisdom to his passion. So many "service projects" and "short-term mission trips" are just one-night stands with justice & mercy. After the mountain-top experience, we return to the well-worn ruts of our evangelical sub-culture, clients of the Church/Industrial Complex. Ken's book will sustain those who desire to radically alter the pattern of their lives, answering the call to participate in the world-transforming work of a God who defines Himself by "justice" (Psalm 146:6-9). This was one of the huge revelations for me in this book--despite being a graduate student in theology, I had somehow missed the fact that justice is an attribute of God (Psalm 9:16). If we really want to know God, and imitate Him, we must pursue justice (Jeremiah 22:13-16). Ken is a wise guide for the journey.(less)
I'm incredibly thankful for this new book from Johnnie Moore. I teach high school students, and I'm putting quotes from "Dirty God" on my whiteboard e...moreI'm incredibly thankful for this new book from Johnnie Moore. I teach high school students, and I'm putting quotes from "Dirty God" on my whiteboard every week. With wit, humor, and an impressive array of international travel stories, Johnnie Moore reminds of what's so "amazing" about grace, and why grace should utterly transform our lives. Moore leads a new generation of evangelicals who realize that God has a Mission in the world, and He expects the Church to leading the charge. I'm especially encouraged by Johnnie's leadership at Liberty University, and hope this book is a sign of a re-directed focus for Liberty. For too long, conservative Christians have been dismissed as the "anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-liberal" faction of extremists. While I'm grateful for the courageous stand taken by Jerry Falwell and others, we need to get beyond that. We need to be known as extremists who befriend homosexuals and offer them the healing of the Gospel in a loving community. We need to be the radicals who come alongside teenage mothers help them care for their babies. We need to be notorious for our extravagant giving to the poor in inner cities and in developing countries, instead of giving millions to the "conservative lobby." We don't have much to show for decades of political pontificating. Johnnie calls us to join Jesus in the trenches, and I hope and pray that God would stir up His people to forsake the American Dream for the sake of the Kingdom Dream!(less)
One of the best theological books I've read, and exemplifies what we're striving to do at the Reformed Liturgical Institute. Canlis reveals a rich leg...moreOne of the best theological books I've read, and exemplifies what we're striving to do at the Reformed Liturgical Institute. Canlis reveals a rich legacy of theological insights in Calvin's thought, weaving together the themes of participation, ascension, adoption and eucharist. Canlis interacts with a wide variety of commentators on Calvin, and doesn't hesitate to gently correct and question some of the respected figures in Calvin scholarship. Further, she shows how recovering Calvin's theology of "participation" helps balance certain readings of Calvin and certain strains of the Calvinist tradition. As an example of "reformed catholicity," her treatment of Irenaeus's theology of participation is especially insightful, even when she uses Irenaeus to modify Calvin's own theology of participation. As a student of the church fathers, surely this is something Calvin would appreciate. Overall, a theological feast well worth savoring!(less)
I love this book! I copied the chapter on Exodus and gave it to my students at the Christian school where I teach. Michael Williams goes through each...moreI love this book! I copied the chapter on Exodus and gave it to my students at the Christian school where I teach. Michael Williams goes through each book of the Bible, and somehow manages to capture how Christ fulfills the central themes of each book. But, this is no mammoth scholarly tome. This is an immensely practical book, and each chapter ends with "hook questions" that help to apply the Christological implications of each book in the Bible to our lives.
This book is designed to help students of the Bible recognize the broad theme of each Biblical book and see how it is fulfilled in Christ. Below the title of each chapter is a phrase which summarizes the theme of the Biblical book. For instance, under "Exodus" we find "Deliverance into Presence." After an introductory paragraph, which outlines the historical background of the book. Then, we find the theme of Exodus: "God delivers his people from slavery into his presence." After a paragraph summarizing the highlights of Exodus, we find a memory verse: Ex. 29:46. Williams has selected memory passages from each book which both epitomize the Biblical book, and are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Williams typically follows the memory verse with a paragraph discussing the spiritual significance and themes of the Biblical book under consideration. Then, we get to Jesus, with "The Jesus Lens" section. Williams shows how Christ fulfills the themes of the books, resolves tensions, answers questions, and provides additional meaning. At this point, we can marvel at the intricate story that God has been writing throughout redemptive history. Williams then moves into pastoral theology, showing how our salvation and spiritual struggles follow the same patterns as the Old Testament narratives.
All good theology must be applied, and so Williams ends each chapter with "Contemporary Implications," relating Biblical themes to our world and our experience. Lastly, Williams provides a few "Hook Questions" which bring these great truths and themes to an intensely personal level. These questions reveal much about our own sinfulness, and how much we fail to live out the grand story that God has written for us. But, Williams ends with a paragraph of pastoral encouragement, reminding us of God's faithfulness and abiding love.
Although each chapter is short, I believe this book should be part of every pastor's, teacher's, and Christian's, library. I say this because I have found that many Christians have no idea how the Old Testament applies to us now (especially the youth I've taught over the years). Williams' book should help fill this lacuna in the contemporary Church.
Good overview Owen's sacramental theology, in context with Calvin and Vermigli. 2/3rds of the book is comprised of John Owen's exhortations to his con...moreGood overview Owen's sacramental theology, in context with Calvin and Vermigli. 2/3rds of the book is comprised of John Owen's exhortations to his congregation before they partook of the Lord's Supper. It is good to see Owen's pastoral side here, but these sermons will challenge the average post-modern reader. But, read through them slowly, and savor a deep thinker who's heart burned with a passionate love for the Savior.(less)
Good overview and introduction to different translations and the theories behind them. Although Fee and Strauss obviously have their own agenda (dynam...moreGood overview and introduction to different translations and the theories behind them. Although Fee and Strauss obviously have their own agenda (dynamic equivalence), it did not become a soap-box.(less)
Mentioning "spirituality" makes the typical conservative Christian think of meditation, saying the Jesus Prayer, and similar practices which sound sus...moreMentioning "spirituality" makes the typical conservative Christian think of meditation, saying the Jesus Prayer, and similar practices which sound suspiciously New-Age. But, this new "Dictionary of Christian Spirituality" should dispel such notions. The authors are firmly grounded in Biblical theology, and find their moorings in the Evangelical tradition. At the same time, they welcome the truths that other traditions have emphasized.
The book is divided into two parts: (1) a series of integrative essays on the discipline and history of spiritual theology, and (2) the Dictionary proper, which includes a vast array of entries on all aspects of Christian spirituality.
Overall, this is a welcome addition to any scholar's or pastor's library. Interested Christians will also find a wealth of thoughtful, and practical, material. The volume is huge (a mere 852 pages!), but it is bound well, and is designed with a view to aesthetic layout. (less)
Scot McKnight's new book, "The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited," is a keeper. In fact, I would say it's one of the best theologica...moreScot McKnight's new book, "The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited," is a keeper. In fact, I would say it's one of the best theological books I've ever read. Part of what makes it exciting is that McKnight is excited himself! You can sense his energy and his joy in his subject, as he leads us step-by-step through his own theological development. It takes some work to read Jesus in his own context, and McKnight is patient with us.
I used this book in my classes at a Christian school, to help bolster my case that Christians should read the Old Testament more. My students were honest in their admission that they don't read the Old Testament much, and don't see the point. McKnight argues that, unless we understand the story of Israel, we cannot really understand Jesus.
I appreciated his critique of the Reformation, his insistence that we learn about the early church, and his endorsement of prayer-books and creeds. If you don't see how those are connected with Jesus in first-century context, you'll just have to buy the book and find out for yourself!
My only real question concerns the "contextualization" question. McKnight presents a solid case that Apostolic preaching looked like thus-and-such. Basically, the preaching of Peter and Paul was dramatically different than our "four spiritual laws" presentations and arm-twisting methods of "gospel" persuasion. Granted. But, Peter and Paul were preaching to a largely Jewish culture. Even when Paul is writing to sort out problems between Jews and Gentiles, he's still working within Jewish categories. When we take the Gospel to Africa, do we still stress every aspect of Old Testament history as much as the Apostles did? Stephen's speech in Acts wouldn't seem to work so well in remote jungles. I hope McKnight will take this up in another book.
Overall, this is a splendid book, and I hope it will help to shake up the anemic and shallow American church!(less)
Covenant theology is making a come-back! After a century of being eclipsed by Dispensationalism, theologians are re-discovering the covenantal unity o...moreCovenant theology is making a come-back! After a century of being eclipsed by Dispensationalism, theologians are re-discovering the covenantal unity of the Bible. Jonathan Lunde's new book is a welcome contribution to this effort. Lunde shows how Jesus fulfills the deepest meanings of the Old Covenant Laws, and shows us how the principles of the Old Testament apply to us in the New Covenant. Lunde is well-read in the contemporary scholar literature. But this is not just a book about biblical theology. Lunde's sub-title is: "A Biblical Theology of Covenantal Discipleship." Accordingly, Lunde does a good job of connecting sometimes complicated theological arguments to real-life situations. Well worth a read!(less)
I must admit that I started to read this book with a fair amount of prejudice. I had always heard Bill Hybels and Willow Creek referred to in a condes...moreI must admit that I started to read this book with a fair amount of prejudice. I had always heard Bill Hybels and Willow Creek referred to in a condescending manner. I was pleasantly surprised. While I'm sure I still disagree with Hybels on a number of things, I found little to actually criticize in this book. I appreciated how Hybels shared the mountains and valleys of his spiritual life, his failures as well as his impressive successes.
The book convinced me that I need to more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I think Hybels went overboard in classifying all sorts of times when God spoke to people in the Bible as "whispers." I think there are other ways for God to communicate with mankind than through "whispers." But that is not much of a criticism.
Hybels is actually quite helpful when setting down guidelines to help us determine if we're actually hearing from God or not. His guidelines stick close to Scripture and common sense.
I found the chapter full of stories from Willow Creek where people felt God "speaking" to them quite inspiring. God is real, God communicates, and God changes lives. We fill our lives with background noise and busy-work. This book helped me think about how to cut down on the ambient buzz and create a space where I can be attentive to the Spirit.(less)
Even though I don't agree with Halter and Smay at times (I think they go to far in trying to connect with our rebellious and...moreA MUST READ BOOK!!!!!!!!!!
Even though I don't agree with Halter and Smay at times (I think they go to far in trying to connect with our rebellious and anti-Christian culture), their project is worth serious study and consideration. They argue (and their own ministry has proven) that every church should be "missional." It is the difference between being and inward-looking and an outward-looking church. We should not just try and attract people to our churches--we need to go out into our communities and bring in the harvest!
Most of my disagreements lie in the area of culture. Halter and Smay show that we need to engage the culture in order. I would argue, further, that we need to create a Christian counter-culture. We don't just want to meet people where they are (though that is necessary). We need to create an alternative to a culture which is increasingly hostile to God. And I don't mean a cheezy Christian culture which simply imitates everything in pop culture, but then slaps a Bible verse on it. We need to redeem every area of culture. For instance, Halter brews beer in his basement. That's the sort of thing we should do more of! More Christian breweries, and fewer sappy Christian bookstores :-)(less)
"Considering the fact homosexuality is evident in all aspects of American life, we shouldn't be surprised at the number of Christians who deal with it...more"Considering the fact homosexuality is evident in all aspects of American life, we shouldn't be surprised at the number of Christians who deal with it as well. What is surprising is the lack of assistance available to such Christians, in spite of the growth experienced by the few ministries that do offer help." (Joe Dallas, Desires in Conflict: Hope for Men Who Struggle with Sexual Identity, 24).
W.P. Campbell's new book, Turning Controversy in Church Ministry, will help fill the gap Joe Dallas describes. Campbell is a pastor in the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church, USA), which has become more and more liberal in its acceptance of gays. (This is the denomination I spent my teen years in, and I remember hearing about the first heated debates about this in the 90s.) Campbell has been an active participant in these growing pains, and I respect his attempt to really understand what pro-gay theologians and activists have said.
Since he has obviously put in time researching this issue, and since he actually ministers to homosexuals, it lends enormous credibility to his position. He disagrees with the conclusions of pro-gay theology, and he believes that homosexuality behavior is a sin. But, that does not stop him from exhorting all churches to welcome, and minister to, the sexually broken.
I found his treatment of "sexual brokenness" to be especially helpful. We are all sexually broken, or messed up. Some of us are broken heterosexually, and some of us are broken homosexually. Christ came to heal our brokenness, not condemn us as hopeless perverts. Campbell makes the interesting point that the gay community is often called "the family." It's no coincidence that many people turn to homosexuality because they find a love there they never had in their own families. Sadly, they probably never felt this love in their churches, either. We need to focus on really, truly, loving others in our churches. We need to be honest about our own sexual struggles. Hopefully, that will create a culture of transparency, where those struggling with same-sex attraction will feel safe to open up and talk about their struggles.
Campbell has lots of wisdom and practical advice to offer in this book. I highly recommend it for all pastors, leaders in churches, teachers in Christian schools, and anyone who knows someone who is gay. Given the way our culture is deteriorating, you may be surprised at how many gay people you know, or how many people might be secretly struggling with same-sex attraction in your church, school, or family. (less)