Archives For Gospel


Following the Risky, Radical Jesus
A Feature Review of 

A Gospel of Hope 
Walter Brueggemann

Hardback: WJK Books, 2018
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Reviewed by Carolyn Miller Parr

Although Walter Brueggemann is best known as an Old Testament scholar, his newest book may surprise some readers with its emphasis on Jesus. The author’s comments on biblical texts, while always faithful to the original, are also faithful to the truth they shine on our current life. His insights are original and thoughtful. His own deep, living faith flows through his writing and speaking. He inspires me.

The gospel in the title of this slim volume is the good news Jesus proclaimed and lived: we can trust God’s love. We needn’t be afraid to follow Jesus today into the suffering of the world. God is with us and has our back, even though we can expect resistance from “Pharaoh” (the author’s shorthand for domination systems of society).

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God’s Vision for Shalom

 A Review of

The Very Good Gospel:
How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right
Lisa Sharon Harper

Hardback: WaterBrook, 2016
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Reviewed by Kate Blakely

This review originally appeared in
our Fall 2016 print magazine

*** Get a FREE digital copy of this issue.

Lisa Sharon Harper’s The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right is the book for which I have been waiting. In a world desperately in need of some truly good news, the church’s responses are often lacking. The gospel must respond meaningfully to the deadly and debilitating forces that erupt around us. Yet the gospel so often proclaimed is, as Harper terms it, thin. This thin gospel succinctly describes salvation as an individual’s restored relationship with God. The end goal of this salvation is equally simple: to be saved means to secure one’s place in heaven after death. Harper weaves together her experiences with church and life, theological and biblical insights, and current cultural and statistical data in order to thicken our understanding of salvation and gospel. What emerges is a truly holistic depiction of God’s cosmic salvation. Harper enriches the message and work of the gospel by focusing attention on the Hebrew word shalom, roughly translated as “peace.” God’s salvation, in which shalom is the reality, includes all aspects of life. Shalom, Harper reminds us, is inherently relational. True peace, salvation, has to do with the actual and concrete reconciliation of all things with their Creator and each other.

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The Rhythm of a Movement

A Review of

Nothing but Love in God’s Water: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement
Robert Darden

Hardback: Penn State UP, 2015
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Review by Sam Edgin


At the end of his introduction to Nothing but Love in God’s Water: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, the book’s author, Robert Darden, uses a quote from a former slave to wrap together the themes of intensity, adaptability, community, and especially rhythm and religion that he says beat within black sacred music. The slave, remembering the songs of his childhood, says that the “…weird and mysterious music of the religious ceremonies moved young and old alike in a frenzy of religious fervor.” These spiritual songs, paired to a religion that stood on the side of the oppressed and promised a better world, fueled what Darden calls a “movement” (emphasis his) that spanned generations and changed the world.

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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
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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?

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It’s Love That’s Holding Us Together


A Review of

Me and We: God’s New Social Gospel

Leonard Sweet
Paperback: Abingdon, 2014
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Reviewed by Carl Holmes

In God’s economy, grace is the rule of the land, and love is the driving motivation for all that we do. Leonard Sweet does in this book what he often does so well, leave us feeling convicted, humbled, but deeply loved and cherished by God. Often, one can read a book of this genre and walk away with a deep feeling of inadequacy and conviction to change. This book provides the latter, without the former.

It is truly beneficial to take your time with this book, even though it is small. Allow the pictures and thoughts to soak in and find favor in your mental and spiritual garden. Like so many things in life, it behooves you to move slowly through the book and let it provide nourishment and sustenance for the journey.
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A Tract for our Times

A Review of

Nothing But The Blood: The Gospel According To Dexter

Zach Hoag

Paperback: Gray Matter Press, 2012
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Reviewed by David Nash


If you do not know Dexter Morgan, then perhaps you should meet him. Dexter inhabits Showtime on Sunday night television, where he has lived for the past six years. Dexter is a forensic blood splatter analyst who works for the fictitious Miami-Metro Police Department; in his spare time, he is a serial killer who preys on other murderers who have escaped the justice system.


Zach Hoag introduces Dexter as the representative of “Every Person” in the early 21st century in the United States. If the 1950’s and the 1960’s were the “Age of Anxiety” as defined and described by Paul Tillich and Rollo May, then the early decades of this century could be the “The Age of Brokenness” with Dexter as the Representative Person for our age. The human cycle of desire and bloodshed is primitive in its genesis, and it afflicts us still.


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David Lyle Jeffrey - Luke (Brazos Theological Commentary)Leading us into the Sacred Story of Self-giving Love

A Review of

Luke (Brazos Theological Commentary)

David Lyle Jeffrey.

Hardback: Brazos Press, 2012
Buy now:   [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Jordan Kellicut.

The commentary is an indispensable tool for the study of the scriptures.  Even those trained in Greek, Hebrew, and well-versed in the textual apparatus will eventually visit a commentary or two.  Brazos Theological Commentary has, in my opinion, offered a breath of fresh air to the sometimes stale academic air of commentaries.  The newest volume in the series is Luke by David Lyle Jeffrey.  Continue Reading…

Rita Dove – Gospel [Poem]

August 28, 2012


Rita Dove - Gospel from the collection Wise WomenA poem by Rita Dove from the collection:

Wise Women: Over Two Thousand Years of Spiritual Writing by Women
Susan Cahill
Paperback: Norton, 1997.
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A great video of a talk by Scot McKnight that I just stumbled upon…

Two of Scot’s most recent books:

Junia is not Alone: Breaking Our Silence About Women in the Bible and in the Church Today.
Ebook: Patheos Press, 2012.
[ Read our review… ]
Buy now: [ Kindle ]

The King Jesus Gospel. Hardback: Zondervan, 2011.
[ Read our review… ]
Buy now: [ ] [ Amazon – Kindle ]

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The Widow with the Two Mites
George Macdonald

This poem is available in Macdonald’s book
A Hidden Life and Other Poems,
which is available as a free downloadable ebook here


George MacdonaldHere much and little change their name
   With changing need and time;
But more and less new judgments claim,
   Where all things are sublime.

Sickness may be more hale than health,
   And service kingdom high;
Yea, poverty be bounty’s wealth,
   To give like God thereby.

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