Archives For *Featured Reviews*

 

More Devoted to Order Than To Justice?

A Feature Review of

When Heaven and Earth Collide: Racism, Southern Evangelicals, and the Better Way of Jesus
Alan Cross

Paperback: New South Books, 2014

Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Rafael Rodriguez
 
 
How could racism exist in a region where evangelical Christians were in the majority?  This is the question Alan Cross seeks to answer in his recent book When Heaven and Earth Collide  Cross approaches this topic as a “son of the south”, a native of Alabama, a Southern Baptist pastor, and a white male.   Yet this does not cripple him in revealing the repulsive practices and racist teachings of southern evangelicals before and after the Civil War.
 
Continue Reading…

 

Global Revealer, Global Messiah

A Review of

Jesus without Borders: Christology in the Majority World
(Majority World Theology Series)
Gene Green, Stephen Pardue, K.K. Yeo, Eds.
Paperback: Eerdmans, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Reviewed by James Stambaugh
 

The church of the global south, where the vast majority of Christians are, is usually not the first place we Western Christians consult about our theological questions.  We necessarily employ a variety of sources, pre-understandings, and experiences for theological reflection, but rarely among them is what our sisters and brothers in Africa, or Latin American, or Asia think.
 

There is an historical reason for this: colonialism, the premise that it is our job to tell them what to believe and practice about God, not the other way around.

Continue Reading…

 

The Surprise of Living

A Feature Review of

Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer  
Jennie Isbell and J. Brent Bill

Paperback: IVP Books, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

 
Reviewed By Trish Edwards-Konic
 
 
Do you want to dig deeper into your already flourishing prayer life? Or has your prayer life gotten boring? Do you long to have the prayer intimacy of the saints, or even the Psalmists? If you answered yes to any of these queries, this is the book for you.
 
Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer by Jennie Isbell and J. Brent Bill tackles these concerns and more. The 2 authors spent several years of conversation as they crafted this tome. Jennie Isbell is an experienced spiritual director and author of Leading Quakers. J. Brent Bill is a Friends minister and author of several books and articles such as Mind the Light: Learning to See With Spiritual Eyes and Imagination & Spirit.

Continue Reading…

 

Empowering Women
For Over 800 Years

 
A Feature Review of 

The Wisdom of the Beguines: The Forgotten Story of a Medieval Women’s Movement
Laura Swan

Hardback: Bluebridge, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Michelle Wilbert
 
 
In this well researched, accessible, and highly readable short history, Laura Swan, professor of religious studies at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, has opened the door to an exploration of a little known spiritual movement that flourished in the medieval period across Europe. Notable for its vigor, clarity of vision, and vocational integrity, it is made remarkable by the singular fact of gender: this was a woman’s movement that aspired to provide its members with real options at a time when virtually none existed. It gave women ownership of their spiritual development and expression, a considerable level of economic and social independence, and a passionately expressed sense of community and purpose.
 
Continue Reading…

 

Redeemed Addicts

 

A review of

Vulnerable Faith: Missional Living in the Radical Way of Saint Patrick
Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Foreword by Jean Vanier.
Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2015

Pre-order now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by D.L. Mayfield

 

*** Watch the trailer video for this book!

    We admitted we were powerless—that our lives had become unmanageable.
–Alcohol Anonymous, step one

 

       St. Patrick at first does not seem the poster child for addiction—what we commonly think of as wild and wicked behavior—at least, not how Jamie Arpin-Ricci introduces him.  In his new book Vulnerable Faith: following in the way of St. Patrick, Arpin-Ricci introduces a Patrick who looks a lot more like me and everyone I grew up with: young, privileged, self-assured and secure in the knowledge that life will work out well for him in the end. But the genius of this small book on intentional Christian living and discipleship is that it focuses so much on how it is precisely those of us who so often distance ourselves from the Other—the poor, the addict, the unspeakably lost—who are caught in the throes of powerlessness. We are the ones scrounging up reputations and possessions, desperate to outrun both our fear of death and the chaos that we know lurks within. And, just like those who follow the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous know, the first step in recovering is admitting that our lives have become unmanageable—especially spiritually.

Continue Reading…

 

Opening Doors for the Mystery of Faith

A Review of

The Divine Magician: The Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith
Peter Rollins

Paperback: Howard Books, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 

Reviewed by Stephen Milliken

 

Peter Rollins is an Irish-born philosopher and theologian with a knack for maintaining traditional Christian traditions, yet emptying them of their previous meaning. Through this kenotic process and his use of culturally-charged parables, he gives us new perspectives and deeper meanings with which to experience and understand that Christian tradition. In his newest work, Rollins continues to dish out a healthy dose of paradoxical truth along with a side of provocation.

Continue Reading…

 

Doug PagittLife Integrated into God
 
A Feature Review of

FLIPPED: The Provocative Truth that Changes Everything We Know About God. 
Doug Pagitt.

Paperback: Convergent Books, 2015.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 Reviewed by Bob Cornwall
 
 
A central theme in the Christian faith is the call to conversion or repentance. To repent is to change direction. John the Baptist, Jesus, and Peter all preached a message of repentance as the pathway to entering the realm of God.  The language of repentance is rather religious and traditional. It has a certain patina to it, and thus it might not speak as usefully to a culture that has eschewed traditional religious language and practices. So, how might one communicate the truth of repentance in a way that would make sense to this new generation that is either unfamiliar with or uncomfortable with religious language? Perhaps one might create new language to communicate basic elements of the Christian faith.  Thus, Doug Pagitt offers us the term “flipped.”  To flip is to change one’s mind/life and go in a different direction.  Better, Doug writes that “change and growth are what Flipped is all about.” (2).
 
Continue Reading…

 

Who were Adam and Eve?

A Review of

The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate
John Walton

Paperback: IVP Books, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Craig Cottongim
 
It will take some time for the ideas presented in this bravely written book to trickle down into our mainstream thinking, but I hope not too long — our future might depend on it.  Will this book be controversial?  For some, more than likely.  Why will some people wrestle with this book?  It turns many of our commonly accepted concepts about Adam and Eve on their head.  By blasting you with a healthy dose of disequilibrium in nearly every chapter, all the while adhering to the authority and infallibility of the Scriptures, this book challenges many Evangelical beliefs about the Genesis account of Adam and Eve.
Continue Reading…

 

The Question of Good News

A Feature Review of

Simply Good News: Why the Gospel is News and What Makes It Good
N.T. Wright

Hardback: HarperOne, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Maria Drews

 

When it comes to the gospel, things have gotten confusing. I have heard the gospel of faith in Christ alone, where a belief that Jesus has died for our sins, sometimes sealed with a prayer, is rewarded with eternity in heaven. I have heard the gospel as a call for people to trust God’s present kingdom reign and an invitation to participate in it now. I hear the good news that God has conquered evil on a cosmic scale and all things are headed towards renewal. I also hear the good news of God’s love and the opportunity to have a relationship with God through Christ’s sacrifice. Mix in several theories of atonement, debates on hell, and an eschatology of awaiting a new heaven and a new earth (or the wildly opposite ending, everything burning up), and it can become difficult to put all the pieces together. Is one right? Are they all supposed to fit together? Isn’t the gospel supposed to be simple?

Continue Reading…

 

Learning to Live with Others

A Review of

Two Recent Books by John Howard Yoder:

Revolutionary Christian Citizenship
Paperback: Herald Press, 2013.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

 

Real Christian Fellowship
Paperback: Herald Press, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Justin Bronson Barringer
 

A friend once told me he loved reading John Howard Yoder’s work because Yoder is a master of systematically building a careful argument, but often the complexity of his writing makes his work inaccessible to laypeople. I, for one, am convinced that even the best theology is worth little if it cannot find its way into the hearts and minds of God’s people.

Continue Reading…