Archives For Evangelical

 

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.
 
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A New Sort of Evangelicalism

A Review of

Revangelical: Becoming the Good News People We’re Meant to Be
Lance Ford

Paperback: Tyndale Momentum, 2014
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Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith

 

For many years now, I have had a tenuous relationship with the label “evangelical.”  On one hand, I have wanted to stay connected and in conversation with the tradition in which I was raised. On the other hand, I was so frustrated with almost everything that evangelicalism represented, and especially how it had come to be so closely bound with right-wing partisan politics. Even today, I still waiver on whether to call myself an evangelical. Lance Ford, author of the new book Revangelical: Becoming the Good News People We’re Meant to Be, is an evangelical; he writes in a manner that will be compelling to evangelicals, richly steeped in scripture, and full of stories that will connect with evangelicals. And yet, Ford is out to define a new sort of evangelicalism.  He describes this “revangelicalism”:
 
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Fire 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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Is there No Peace in the Land?

A Feature Review of

A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace

Brian Zahnd

Paperback: David C. Cook, 2014.
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Reviewed by John W. Morehead

 

In recent years an increasing number of Evangelicals have taken up the work of peacemaking. No longer seen as the sole purview of progressives or liberals, these Evangelicals have connected their work in peacemaking as a central facet of the Gospel and a broader Christian theology and praxis. Brian Zahnd makes a thought provoking contribution to this growing body of work through his book.

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New Column!Christopher Curmudgeon
Grills the
Christian Bestsellers

“Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburger” – Mark Twain

 

This is an introductory post for a new column that we will be running on our website, the aim of which will be to examine and ask hard questions about – i.e., to grill – bestselling Christian books. 

 
We will try to present the books in a manner that reflects fairly and accurately the author’s intents. For the time being, I (ERB editor, Chris Smith) will do these reviews under the pseudonym Christopher Curmudgeon, and will hope that the alter-ego helps to lend a light and humorous tone to the reviews. Our purpose in creating this column is twofold: for many of our regular readers, who would rather die than set foot in a Christian bookstore, this column will serve as a newsflash about what other Christians are reading these days; for readers who do read mainstream Christian books, or who have family and friends who do, we hope to shed new and different light on the bestsellers, challenging you to think theologically about what you are reading and to have meaningful conversations with others about the books that you are reading. (a key part of our mission here at The Englewood Review of Books).

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Learning to Find Joy in Each Day

A Review of  

Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God
Margaret Feinberg

Paperback: Worthy Publishing, 2013
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Reviewed by Kimberly Roth

 

Margaret Feinberg is one of those authors who walk with one foot in the evangelical world and one foot in the mystical. Or, perhaps a better way to say it is this: she walks the evangelical path in a mystic’s shoes. Either way, there may be those who find themselves uncomfortable on her journeys – either because she’s too “out-there” or because she’s too “in-your-face” (depending on your personal bent, of course).

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Shedding Light on Fear-Mongering.

A Feature Review of

The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims
Nathan Lean

Paperback: Pluto Press, 2012.
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Reviewed by John W. Morehead.

 

Human beings are wired to be aware of difference. It is natural part of human nature to forge various social alliances that foster senses of “us,” the insiders, in distinction to “them,” the outsiders. Problems arise when the outsiders become the enemy, and they further function in such a way that one’s individual and collective identity is created by way of opposition to the other. In the United States, this dynamic is all too frequently found in the post-9/11 environment in regards to Islam, where a cottage industry portrays Islam as a monstrous entity, wholly a religion of violence, pursuing terrorism and the overthrow of the US Constitution to be replaced with “sharia law.” The result of this narrative is a frighteningly large number of people adopting “Islamophobia,” an irrational fear of Muslims and the Islamic religion.

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The New Evangelicals - Marcia PallyThe State of the Political and Evangelical Landscapes Today

A Review of

The New Evangelicals:

Expanding the Vision of the Common Good

Marcia Pally.

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2011.
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Reviewed by Joshua Neds-Fox.

A confession: I have no head for American politics.  I recognize the major players, vaguely understand the basic assumptions and policy goals of conservative vs. liberal, Republican vs. Democrat.  I know that one of the cable news channels is supposed to lean one way and another the other, and there’s The Nation, they’re conservative, right? Or is that The National Review?

See, I don’t find myself terribly invested in the approach of one side versus the other. But I would have to have been living under a rock for the last couple of decades to miss the connection between mainstream evangelicalism and conservative politics.  As an issue inside the church, it strikes me as the key divider between Jesus-followers of my generation, perhaps more than protestant vs. catholic, or evangelical vs. charismatic.  As an issue of American Religion, it’s been fodder for sociological study and political science research for most of my adult life. I think of Robert Putnam and David Campbell’s 2010 American Grace, which surveys the landscape of religion and politics to see where we see ourselves in the light of American contemporary religion.

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“Keep on Rockin’ in the Christian World?”

A review of
Sects, Love and Rock & Roll

by Joel Heng Hartse.


Reviewed by Adam Newton.


Sects, Love and Rock & Roll
Joel Heng Hartse.

Paperback: Wipf and Stock, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Sects, Love and RocknRoll - Joel Heng HartseI worked in a Christian bookstore for six years, and for most of it, I did so quite happily. Like the vast majority of people who’ve chosen to work in such an environment, I did it because it brought me close to the things I loved – a combination of God, the Bible, books, and music (it helped that I received a decent discount that encouraged me to re-invest into the store). Those six years were spent providing customers with any and all available information on the newest Study Bible, the newest best-selling books (whether fiction or assorted “Christian Living” topics), and the hot new records (courtesy of whatever hit songs were being played on Houston, TX’s award-winning Christian radio station). I liked it, since I loved talking to people about the aforementioned God, Bible, and books, but my real claim to fame was the reputation I earned amongst the mallrat punk rock Christian kids as being “the guy” that could help them find the Christian alternative to the secular music their evangelical parents didn’t approve of.

So, I found myself laughing, groaning, and shaking my head knowingly with every turn of the page throughout Sects, Love, and Rock & Roll by Joel Heng Hartse, a regular contributor to publications like Paste, Geez, Christianity Today and Image (amongst others).  It would be easy to describe the book as Body Piercing Saved My Life written by a Christian, but this book is a definitely more personal and intimate in nature. It comes across as an open, honest memoir that chronicles one guy’s journey through the waters of both Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and “secular” music, and how he’s still trying to make sense of that (often false) dichotomy.

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764744: Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who"s Already There A Review of
Nudge:
Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There

By Leonard Sweet.
Hardback: David C. Cook, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

As one who grew up in the midst of the heyday of evangelicalism and who was never completely comfortable with notions of evangelism that amounted to little more than proselytizing, evangelism has come to be a dirty word.  However, in the concept of evangelism, like all dirty words (and I would argue all dirty people as well) there lies the possibility for redemption.  Leonard Sweet, in his new book Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There, offers a fresh, new take on evangelism that points us toward recovery of the language of evangelism in ways that are more consistent with the whole of the scriptural narrative than what passed for evangelism in the days of my youth.  In the book’s preface Sweet gives form to this new understanding of evangelism:

Evangelism for too long has been disconnected from discipleship.  In Nudge, evangelism is discipleship.  What yokes evangelism to discipleship, I propose is the art of attention, attending to life and attending to God (21).

Certainly, in our increasingly technological age, social critics have been denouncing our inability to pay attention (see for example, Maggie Jackson’s recent book Distracted LGT: our review), so it is refreshing to see the fundamental role that the recovery of attention plays in Sweet’s reframing of evangelism.  Another particularly refreshing facet of Sweet’s work here is the holistic way in which he describes evangelism using imagery connected to all five senses.

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