Archives For *Featured Reviews*


The Unique Values We Each Bring to the Table

A Feature Review of 

The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

Hardback: IVP Books, 2016
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Reviewed by Seth Vopat


It’s a common narrative: It’s always going to be someone else, it’s not going to be me.

Clergy burnout may be high, but I was never going to fall into that category I told myself. I naively thought with proper preparation I would be able to avoid the statistics and perhaps help change the narrative. And then it came. I rapidly descended like an Apple iPhone into the lower-power mode to conserve energy several years ago. It was in the midst of this descent I was introduced to the enneagram for the first time. A colleague and friend suggested I check it out.

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Moving Toward the Other

A Feature Review of

Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear
Scott Sauls

Paperback, Tyndale 2016
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Reviewed by Ashley Hales


After America’s recent election, we’ve discovered (again) how divided we are. It is not simply that one-half of the nation disagrees with the other, but that each half is afraid of the other, as noted by ABC News. In a climate of fear, Scott Sauls’ Befriend is a timely book. Its subtitle, “create belonging in an age of judgment, isolation, and fear,” speaks to a human desire for community that transcends divisions based on race, class, socio-economics, politics, and sexual orientation. It plots a way forward for the church.

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In and Through the Chaos
A Feature Review of

How to Survive a Shipwreck:
Help is on the Way and Love is Already Here
Jonathan Martin

Paperback: Zondervan, 2016
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Reviewed by Douglas Graves
There are a great deal of “how to” resources for Christians these days. We hope for easy answers and are drawn to step-by-step instructions on how to live a healthy, happy, pleasant Christian life. Yet despite what seems like a recent rise in conversation around deconstruction–especially in regards to faith–there isn’t much writing on how to deconstruct gracefully. Jonathan Martin, however, has written an exceptionally moving book that does just that, and so much more. Despite the title, to classify How to Survive a Shipwreck as another “how to live the Christian life” book would be like calling Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath one of his best works; it most certainly is, but it ignores and belittles the heartache and pain found in the pages of that great American novel. Likewise, Martin’s attempt at “how to” delves into the deepest parts of the soul and comes out not only alive, but hopeful.

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A Truly Transforming Theology
A Feature Review of 

Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation
Richard Rohr
With Mike Morrell

Hardback: Whittaker House, 2016
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Reviewed by Amy Neftzger.
Richard Rohr’s latest book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and your Transformation is both rich and revolutionary.  It’s rich in the sense that it discusses deep theological issues about the nature and structure of the Trinity, while at the same time describing a need for a radical paradigm shift in the way modern Christians think about the Trinitarian God. The concepts outlined in the book are revolutionary not because they’re new, but rather because they challenge the mindset of our current culture and longstanding beliefs about God.

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Commitments, Convictions, and Character.
A Feature Review of 

Public Faith in Action:
How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity

Miroslav Volf and
Ryan McAnnally-Linz

Hardback: Brazos Press, 2016
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Reviewed by Abram Kielsmeier-Jones
“JESUS IS COMING-HOPEFULLY BEFORE THE ELECTION,” declared Grace Church’s exterior sign.

The rancor surrounding this year’s presidential election is enough to make even the most long-suffering Christian cry, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!” At the same time, we are here now and need to know how to live faithfully. Public Faith in Action: How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity offers thoughtful possibilities.

The book by Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz “explores what kind of virtues and commitments should inform the public engagement of the followers of Christ” (x). That a Christian should engage in public life is taken for granted by the authors:

Christian faith has an inalienable public dimension. Christians aren’t Christ’s followers just in their private and communal lives; they are Christ’s followers in their public and political lives as well. (3)

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Paul, Perspectives,
and Christian Witness

A Review of 

The Apostle Paul and the Christian Life: Ethical and Missional Implications of the New Perspective
Scot McKnight and Joseph B. Modica, Eds.

Paperback: Baker Academic, 2016
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Reviewed by Danny Yencich
The worlds of biblical scholarship, Christian colleges and seminaries, and evangelical theology and preaching have played hosts to a tempest in a teapot these last few decades. While the rest of the world continued on doing what the rest of the world does, the aforementioned invested readers of Paul have been engaged in a usually quite interesting and sometimes very heated debate about the broad contours and implications of the theology of the apostle to the gentiles. Like a river system, the debates have splintered off into various tributaries, feeders, and side streams, but the central points of dispute have been, and remain to this day, Paul’s attitudes toward salvation, gentiles, and the Judaism of his day. This nexus of issues, read through the lens used by the great reformer Martin Luther, gave rise to what has been called (often pejoratively) “the Old Perspective on Paul” (hereafter “OP”). Enter its adversary from stage right: the New Perspective on Paul (“NP”). Grossly oversimplified, the OP/NP debates have largely centered on first century Torah observance (“works of the law”), justification, and the question of “faith in/of Jesus Christ.” It may be instructive here to take one verse, Galatians 2:16, and run it through the interpretive apparatuses of the OP and NP to briefly and oversimply sketch the broad contours of the debate.

…yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law (Gal 2:16, NRSV).

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A Vulnerable Call

A Feature Review of 

The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into the Abundant Life
Ann Voskamp

Hardback: Zondervan, 2016
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Reviewed by Zena Neds-Fox


I took Ann Voskamp’s new book down to the water.  It was a perfect morning.  A fish actually jumped in the lake and geese flew overhead in a September blue sky.  I came anticipating the beauty I knew Ann’s words would hold.  A beautiful place for a beautiful book.  But the truth is that Ann Voskamp’s greatest power has always been to knock the wind out of her readers.  To take them out at the knees.  The Broken Way is no exception.  We come to her wanting comfort and she’s glad to give it – at a price.

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That Frumious Bandersnatch

A Feature Review of

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings 
Diana Glyer

Illustrated by James A. Owen
Paperback: Black Squirrel Books, 2016
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Reviewed by Sam Edgin


In the corner of a pub in small town Indiana, I met with dear friends weekly for over a year. Huddled in dusty yellow light beneath a wrinkled photocopy of a painting of a British hunting party, their red jackets faded orange, we fancied ourselves like the Inklings, that company of writers who met – also weekly – in the infamous Rabbit Room in back of the Eagle and Child in Oxford. This comparison was generous – we only talked about books, not wrote them – but little makes a young man feel more infinite than sitting in a pub with friends, laughing loud and arguing louder, empty pints scattered victoriously across the table.

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The Process of Spiritual Awakening
A Feature Review of

Desperately Seeking Spirituality:
A Field Guide to Practice

Meredith Gould

Paperback: Liturgical Press, 2016
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Reviewed by Jeff Nelson

Early in Desperately Seeking Spirituality, Meredith Gould writes, “Annoying reminder: spiritual awakening is a process, not a one-time enlightenment event” (7). There is so much to this quote that captures the book’s essence.

First, “annoying reminder.” You will not find here the typical air of reverence, awe, inspiration, and peace that characterizes most books on prayer and spiritual practice. As Gould notes from time to time and as the title indicates, spirituality is not a simple thing to nurture and pursue and it can and does feature moments of confusion, frustration, and irritation. She is very up front about the difficulty, patience, and trial and error involved in such an endeavor, both empathizing with any stumblings the reader might experience and providing reassurance that both having and naming them is permissible.

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Where (and With Whom) We Stand

A Review of 

How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World
Robert Joustra and
Alissa Wilkinson

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2016.
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Reviewed by Rob O’Lynn


In many ways, this excellent book can be divided into three components:

1) A philosophical introduction where the umbrella—or arc—themes are funneled down into their base components.  This will be discussed below, however it is important to note here that this is extremely helpful for the reader who is not well versed in cultural theory (especially those of Charles Taylor, upon which most of the discussion is based).  The authors take great care in throughout this book to continually connect Taylor’s theories to the cultural artifacts that they use to illuminate our present social condition.

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