Archives For *Featured Reviews*


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
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

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.

Continue Reading…


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
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

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.

Continue Reading…


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
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

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.

Continue Reading…


 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
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 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.

Continue Reading…


Michelle DeRusha

Faithful and Courageous Lives

A Review of

50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the Heroines of Faith

Michelle DeRusha

Paperback: Baker Books, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon
Kindle ]


Reviewed by Tiffany Malloy


Take out a piece of paper and a pencil. Quickly jot down all of the Christian women you’ve learned about over the years in your community of faith. Next to each name, write a couple words describing what they are known for. How many did you come up with?


I came up with 9.


Thankfully Michelle DeRusha did us all a favor and put some great research and writing into her newest book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the Heroines of the Faith. 357 pages of research are filled with brief biographies of 50 courageous, faithful women from all walks of life who have a few things in common: loving the Lord passionately, sensitivity to His voice and obediently walking the path before them.

Continue Reading…


Anne Marie MillerBeauty and Redemption in Brokenness

A Feature Review of

Lean on Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable and Consistent Community

Anne Marie Miller

Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Sarah Winfrey
At its most basic, Anne Marie Miller’s Lean On Me is a book about friendship. It’s about making friends and keeping them, about accepting the places in ourselves that need to be friended and learning to make connections that go beyond passing the time of day. On a deeper level, though, Lean On Me is about the significant ways other people can help us, hold us, lead us, and change us, and its about learning to let them do that.
Our culture focuses on independence, where being strong looks most like taking care of yourself and handling yourself without needing to rely on other people. Even in the Church, people who request a lot of support are considered “needy” and we are trained to be wary of how much energy we offer them. And heaven forbid we become one of them, seemingly unable to function normally without the help of others.

Continue Reading…


Tim SuttleA Text for the Little Guys

A Feature Review of

Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture

Tim Suttle

Paperback:  Zondervan, 2014
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Katie Savage


Last week, one sweet parishioner pulled me aside after the Sunday service and whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry—it will happen.” She must have noticed me scanning the crowd (can you call it a crowd when only twenty of the, perhaps, 200 seats are filled?). To be honest, I wasn’t necessarily concerned about the numbers at that moment.  But there are always reminders that, culturally at least, I should be.
“The church is facing a huge problem,” writes author and pastor Tim Suttle. “We have become enamored with size. We have become infatuated with all things bigger, better, stronger, higher and faster.” In his new book Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church-Growth Culture (Zondervan, 2014), Suttle attempts to change the Christian leadership conversation. Faithfulness, he reiterates again and again, is the name of the game, not success.
Continue Reading…


J.R. BriggsEducating, Maturing and Preparing

A Feature Review of

Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure
J.R. Briggs

Paperback: IVP Books, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Micheal Hickerson
Earlier this summer, my wife and I visited about ten unfamiliar churches around Cincinnati. For every healthy community we encountered, there was another that was slowly dying, with a small group of survivors still meeting in a mostly empty sanctuary. At several, we were among their few visitors all year. One church, itself in the midst of a long pastor search, had recently merged with another that had been forced to sell its building, producing the strange scene of a pastor without a church attending a church without a pastor. Even flourishing churches bore scars of recent wounds, such as the wealthy and well-attended church whose lobby featured protraits of every pastor since the 1920s. Every pastor, that is, except for the most recently departed.
Fail grew out of Briggs’s own failures and his subsequent launch of the Epic Fail conferences, a series of intimate gatherings around the country unlike any church conference I’ve ever attended.

Continue Reading…


Deirdre CornellBlessed by the People that the Empire Forgets and Disdains and Shuns

Jesus was a Migrant

Dierdre Cornell

Paperback: Orbis Books, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by D.L. Mayfield


The front cover is of a man drawn in a Byzantine style, curly haired and bearded, trapped behind a wall of barbed wire. As he grabs a sharp strand of the fence in his hand he stares out at me, the reader. I notice the wound, dark and red, gaping from his palm. As anyone who ever went to Sunday School will know, this man is obviously Jesus. The title of the book competes with the wounds and eyes of Christ for my attention: Jesus Was a Migrant, it proclaims with boldness. I do not quite know what this means. I want to ask questions of it, wrestle with this claim, right from the beginning. I feel so very far away from him, and far away from the experiences of the stateless wanderers our world produces.

Continue Reading…


Steve AlmondFootball: A Lover’s Struggle

A Feature Review of

Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto

Steve Almond

Hardback: Melville House, 2014Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Cody Stauffer
I love football. I have played it well. I have inflicted damage and my body has taken damage. I have devoted entire days to watching it live and listening to people talk about the glorious nuance of the game.
Lately, I have struggled with my love for the sport. It began when Dave Duerson, a Super Bowl champion safety, took his own life in 2011. He left a note requesting that his brain be donated to a brain bank doing research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a debilitating brain injury found in many boxers and now an increasing number of former NFL players. It became serious when I learned about Nathan Stiles, a 17-year-old football player who died shortly after his homecoming game due to a series of concussive and subconcussive blows to the head.

Continue Reading…