Archives For *Featured Reviews*

 

Charles MarshDeep into the Humanity of a Great Theologian
 
A Feature Review of

Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Charles Marsh

Hardback: Knopf, 2014
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Reviewed by Bob Cornwall
 
 
[This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s blog, and is reprinted here with his permission]
 
There are people who seem to transcend the confines of history.   They are bigger than life, casting long shadows, and inviting multiples of interpretations.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer can be counted as one of those figures.   For a man who died at the age of thirty-nine, while spending the final two years of his life in prison, Bonhoeffer has left an immense legacy for later generations to mine and ponder.  He has been the subject of numerous biographies and academic monographs.  His collected works, which includes his books, letters, papers, sermons, and lectures, comes to sixteen volumes.  He was a theological genius, but he was also a participant in one of the most challenging struggles the church has ever faced.   While his early works were standard theological fare, his later works emerged during the German Church Struggle against the demonic (if I can use that word) presence of National Socialism.  It is these later texts, both the ones that emerged from his underground seminary and then during the years of conspiracy and then imprisonment that have proven fruitful to later generations.
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Thomas KiddFire in the Heart.
 
A Review of

George Whitefield: American’s Spiritual Founding Father.
Thomas Kidd

Hardback: Yale UP, 2014
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By Douglas Connelly

 

The year 2014 marks the 300th anniversary of George Whitefield’s birth (December 16, 1714 to be exact).  Thomas Kidd, professor of early American history at Baylor University, has written a very readable and warm-hearted biography of the great evangelist to reaffirm and re-establish Whitefield’s place in the story of the Great Awakening in the 1700s.  Spiritual revival swept the American colonies, England, Wales and Scotland, and George Whitefield’s preaching was the catalyst that sparked much of that spiritual stirring.

 

Whitefield (and the name is pronounced “Whit-field” rather than “White-field”) was probably the most celebrated preacher and religious leader of his day.  John and Charles Wesley were part of the same evangelical revival in England and Jonathan Edwards led the way for renewal in America, but Whitefield crisscrossed the Atlantic thirteen times and was a major force for revival on both sides of the ocean.  Wherever Whitefield travelled, throngs of people turned out to hear him preach.  Long before large auditoriums or loud-speaker amplification existed, Whitefield raised his voice to speak to thousands of people and to call them to faith in Jesus Christ.

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Disquiet TimeComforting the Afflicted and Afflicting the Comfortable?
 
A Review of

Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels

Cathleen Falsani and Jennifer Grant

Hardback: Jericho Books, 2014
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Reviewed by Jonathan Schindler
 
What happens when a group of contrarians and misfits writes a book of essays about the Bible? You get Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels, which editors Jennifer Grant and Cathleen Falsani hail as “not your mama’s Our Daily Bread”—a “devotional” that strives to wrestle with the bits of the Bible that don’t often make their way into mission statements or adorn decorative wall hangings.

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Elizabeth DreyerDeep Spirituality and Prayerful Reflection

 

A Review of

Accidental Theologians: Four Women who Shaped Christianity.

Elizabeth Dreyer

Paperback: Franciscan Media, 2014
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Reviewed by Kyle A. Schenkewitz

 

Focusing on Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Thérèse of Lisieux, Elizabeth Dreyer forces her reader to consider again the lasting impact of these women’s holy lives and spiritual teaching. They are revered as theologians, even doctors of the church, and rightly so. Their teaching reflected the “existential, daily engagement in the spiritual life which influenced the life of the Church.” ( 2) These four “accidental” theologians had a tremendous impact on the church of their day and continue to resound in concurrent eras.

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Jason StorbakkenRepenting of Complicity with the World’s Disorder
 
Review of

Radical Spirituality: Repentance, Resistance, Revolution

Jason Storbakken

Paperback: Orbis Books, 2014.
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Reviewed by Michael Anthony Howard
 
The Kingdom language of the New Testament implies an entirely new order. If we are not a part of that order, we participate in the disorder of the world. Sadly, much of the church today is self-serving, entertainment oriented, and has more in common with the disorder of the world than God’s Kingdom. By seeking to be attractional, the church has lost its ability to be transformational. Radical Living, a community of Christ’s followers embedded deep within the rhythms of Brooklyn, offers an alternative. As cofounder Jason Storbakken describes it, Radical Living is an intentional community of Christ’s followers aimed at impacting the world around them with the lived Gospel.

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David BennerPracticing Presence

A Review of

Presence and Encounter: The Sacramental Possibilities of Everyday Life
David Benner

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2014
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Reviewed by Peter Stevens

 

Presence is a powerful word. It is a very simple and profound word, and in the last year, it is word that has reshaped my thinking about how the church should minister in the the world. It started when I heard David Fitch and Chris Smith speak on how the church should be present in the neighborhood. I encountered presence again when Dr. Phil Kenneson presented at the Slow Church conference. He said that we do not have anything more precious to give each other than our own presence. Now, David Benner’s new book Presence and Encounter has added even more depth and weight to the idea of presence. Benner shows how profoundly important it is for us to practice and experience presence in our lives. He writes, “the most vital and significant moments in life are moments of encounter” (xiii). In order to make encounter possible, we have be present and experience presence.

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Philip FreemanNew Eyes to see the Marvels in our own Time and Place

A Feature Review of

The World of St. Patrick

Philip Freeman

Hardback: Oxford University Press, 2014
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Reviewed by Alden Lee Bass

 

“I am Patrick, a sinner and a very ignorant man.” With these words Patrick begins both of his surviving works, which do much to make strange this saint we think we know so well. In the first place, Patrick was not Irish as all, but British; as a child he was dragged to Emerald Isle against his will by a band of pirates, and he spent the years of his early manhood enslaved there. He was also an atheist during those early years, despite the fact that his family had been leaders in the British Church for several generations. When he as 22 years old and still a slave, he received a heavenly vision outlining a plan for escape, which he followed, eventually ending up back home in Roman Britain. Patrick did not immediately return to Ireland, but traveled around Europe several years before returning to the land of his captivity. Once there, he never turned back, and with the help of a few friends Patrick is said to have converted most of the island to Christianity by the close of the fifth century.

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Dennis OkholmAn Antidote to Sin?

A Review of

Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks

Dennis Okholm

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2014
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Reviewed by Julie Lane-Gay
 
Despite constant occurrences of politician’s sexting employees, NFL players assaulting women and Wall Street tycoons cheating investors, sin remains fascinating, and ubiquitously destructive. The litany of lousy things people do to each other, and to themselves, continues to need our attention.
 
Dennis Okholm’s, Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of the Ancient Monks is a study of sin, of what the Catholic church and many others, refer to as the cardinal sins: gluttony, lust, greed, anger, envy, sloth and vain glory. These seven aren’t just the most common; they’re the parents from which all other sins originate. More specifically, Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins is a look at the seven sins from parallel perspectives: that of early monks, namely, Evagrius (4th C.), Cassian (5th C.) and Gregory the Great (6th C.), and that of current psychologists.

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Leroy BarberDiversity as Missio Dei

A Feature Review of

Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White, Who’s more Precious in God’s Sight?: A call for diversity in Christian missions and ministry

Leroy Barber

Hardback: Jericho Books, 2014
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Reviewed by James Matichuk
 
Leroy Barber is my friend and mentor. I trust his voice when it comes to urban ministry and community. So when I saw that his new book was out, Red Brown Yellow Black White Who’s more Precious in God’s Sight?: A call for diversity in Christian missions and ministry, I was eager to read it. I knew it would be a game changer.
 
But it was much more than that. Red Brown Yellow Black White (RBYBW) is a summons for those of us who ‘say’ we care about reconciliation and justice to quit playing a it; it calls us to get on with working for real change in how we minister across the racial divide. In these pages, Barber opens up about his sometimes painful journey in the urban ministry world, how discrimination from fellow leaders and boards, locked him and fellow minorities out of key leadership positions. Because Barber is such a great relational leader, he sets his story alongside friends and co-conspirators.

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 Michael GormanA Fresh Addition to the Discussion of Atonement

 A Feature Review of

The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant: A (Not So) New Model of Atonement

Michael Gorman

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2014
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 Reviewed by Jordan Kellicut

 

The current debates over the atonement and its implications for the doctrine of justification are desperately divergent.  The most popularized is the debate between N.T. Wright as a voice for the New Perspective on Paul, and John Piper as a New Calvinist.  Classic theories, like Ransom and Moral Influence, are also being repurposed.[1]  Yet there is no fully biblically integrated or wholly accepted theory.

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