Archives For *Featured Reviews*

 

Standing up for Ourselves
 
A Feature Review of
 

Resist and Persist: Faith and the Fight for Equality
Erin Wathen

Paperback: WJK Books, 2018
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Reviewed by D. S. Leiter

 

I’m not sure Erin Wathen would expect or approve of my reaction when I finished reading her book, but here it is: I wanted to take my car on a roadtrip to her home state, find the church she pastors, and give her a big hug, then sit down and have a long conversation with her to find out more about her views on how the church should be working to be on the forefront of feminism.

Whether or not she would approve of my action, however, there it is. (Erin, if you’re reading this, please know that I would be doing so not as a creepy stalker, but because it frankly feels like you could use a hug, and because I’d like to dialogue with you more. I won’t actually do it.)

A variety of things in the book evoked this response in me.

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Prioritizing Hospitality

 
A Review of 

The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World
Rosaria Butterfield

Hardcover: Crossway, 2018.
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Reviewed by Justin Cober-Lake

 

Christian Hospitality:
A Reading List

 

Rosaria Butterfield doesn’t have the typical conservative Christian background, her conversion having come while researching the Religious Right as an antagonist. During that work (as she’s written on elsewhere), she became a Christian and her post-conversion life has become one of what she describes in her latest book The Gospel Comes with a House Key as “radically ordinary hospitality.” That phrase might sound heavy, but she breaks it down like this: “Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God” (31). Throughout the book, Butterfield explores an unusual way of living that manages to be both strange and familiar at the same time.

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Wesleyan Theology
that Yearns for Justice

A Feature Review of

No Religion but Social Religion: Liberating Wesleyan Theology
Joerg Rieger

Paperback: GBHEM Publishing, 2018
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Reviewed by Joseph Johnson

 

Liberation theology is often seen largely as a Roman Catholic movement born out of the socioeconomic struggles of the 1960’s and 1970’s in Latin America. There is, of course, much truth in this characterization, though liberation theology’s scope now extends well beyond Latin America when viewed in contemporary global perspective. In his introduction to The Cambridge Companion to Liberation Theology, Christopher Rowland echoes the words of pioneering Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez when he points out that part of the significance of liberation theology for the wider Church has been its willingness to take on the challenge of “speaking of God in a world that is inhumane.” And in a world marked by so much suffering and injustice, this is clearly a necessary task.

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The Tools We Need to Get Started
 
A Review of 
 

Critical Theology: Introducing an Agenda for an Age of Global Crisis
Carl Raschke

Paperback: IVP Academic, 2016.
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Reviewed by Lyle Enright
 
 

The early Church Father Tertullian famously asked, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Carl Raschke, professor of religious studies at the University of Denver, takes a hard look at this question and what it means for us in Critical Theology: Introducing an Agenda for an Age of Global Crisis. Where Tertullian wondered what secular philosophy could possibly contribute to the Kingdom of God, Raschke isn’t at all sure that the Kingdom can survive much longer without a powerful dose of philosophical education, specifically from a Marxist perspective. It is thus no accident that the “critical theology” he proposes looks a lot like the “critical theory” of the Frankfurt School, a German intellectual heritage whose history he explores throughout this book’s six chapters.

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“God Does Not Leave Us Comfortless.”
 
A Feature Review of 
 

Open to the Spirit :
God in Us, God with Us, God Transforming Us
Scot McKnight

Paperback: Waterbrook, 2018
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Reviewed by Julie Sumner
 
 

            Let it come, as it will, and don’t
            be afraid. God does not leave us
            comfortless, so let evening come.

                                    -Jane Kenyon

 
In Kenyon’s poem, “Let Evening Come,” she touches on a belief deeply held by Christians from all streams of the church: that God does not leave us without comfort. In each church that I have been a part of, whether Southern Baptist, Reformed Presbyterian, Episcopal, or non-denominational, that comfort is seen as a characteristic of the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. And yet despite this belief, as widely held as it is in the church, there is a pittance of instruction given about how to engage this comfort, this power, this person, that is otherwise so deeply affirmed by so many.

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A Big, Beautiful World
 
A Feature Review of

Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World
Douglas Moo and Jonathan Moo

Paperback: Zondervan, 2018.
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Reviewed by James Honig

 

In the midst of the cacophony of strident voices in contemporary American politics and culture, one of the loudest strains of shouting back and forth across the fence is with regard to environmental issues, and particularly climate change and human causation. In the midst of the debate, what does the church have to say, and what must the church do? The father and son co-authors, Douglas and Jonathan Moo seek to answer those questions in their new book, Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World.

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A Charming, Clear, Deeply Wise Guide 
 
A Feature Review of 
 

The Path Between Us:
An Enneagram Journey
to Healthy Relationships
Suzanne Stabile

Hardback: IVP Books, 2018
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Reviewed by MaryAnn McKibben Dana
 
 
It’s a common occurrence in our house—over breakfast, my husband Robert will say, “Well, this morning’s EnneaThought email was another head-scratcher.” Many Enneagram aficionados will know what I’m talking about: the Enneagram Institute sends a daily email, as short as a fortune cookie, and you can sign up based on one of the nine Enneagram personality types.

Some of these emails are so perceptive that they land with a convicting blow, which has made them the topic of much kvetching among friends. (Many of us have wished they were sent at some benign hour in the middle of the day, rather than wake up to them first thing in the morning.) Other EnneaThoughts are impenetrable, with references to divine essence and holy wisdom. It is these that my husband finds eye-rollingly puzzling.

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Winsomeness,
Generosity, and Hope
 
A Feature Review of

Christian Hospitality and Muslim
Immigration in an Age of Fear
Matthew Kaemingk

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2018
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Review by Tim Hoiland
 
 

Abbreviated from the review in 
our Lent 2018 magazine issue. 
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In recent years, refugees from Muslim-majority countries have risen on the list of threats we are instructed to fear. We have seen the videos of ISIS beheadings; we have seen what havoc car bombs wreak on people and property. Who’s to say the Somali family down the street doesn’t have sinister plans for the neighborhood? Who’s to say the Muslims in our city aren’t angling, through reproduction and supernatural patience, to become a democratic majority and eventually to impose Sharia law?
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The Future of Church Planting?
 
A Review of

Church Planting
in Post-Christian Soil:
Theology and Practice

Christopher James

 
Hardcover: Oxford UP, 2017
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Reviewed by Justin Cober-Lake
 
 
The dominant storyline says the church is decline in the global West. The “nones” are ascendant as the church loses its relevance. Then the story splits. The younger generation has no use for tradition; no, the younger generation seeks authenticity and needs a historically oriented liturgy. The church has become too inward-looking; the church has become too seeker sensitive. The church has become or not become a lot of things. It’s a bit of a mess, really.

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A Soundtrack for Self-Immolation
 
A review of

The Monk’s Record Player:
Thomas Merton, Bob Dylan, and the Perilous Summer of 1966
Robert Hudson

Hardback: Eerdmans, 2018
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Review by Sam Edgin

 
 

In the window seat of an airplane above the vast American West I am alone, seeking familiarity outside my window. Mountains with snowy shoulders stretch below, their size giving the illusion of closeness. The white horizon they break into zigs and zags eases upwards into blue sky, and dilutes the sharpness of the most distant peaks. Just as the landscape is wrapping me into itself, blocky cartoon letters painted on the wingtip of my plane snap me back behind the three-paned glass and molded grey plastic of my window. “HOWDY,” it says in a yellow found mainly on toy dump trucks. I don’t reply.

There are few places I feel more alone than in the window seat of a crowded airplane. There, in a lumpy seat, stuck between a mass of disgruntled strangers and the vast unfamiliar landscape far below, I fold in on myself. As someone who builds energy in alone time, this is enjoyable. For those strangers next to me, I’m sure I come across, unfortunately, as less than amicable.

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