Archives For Review

 

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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Courageous Honesty

A Review of 

Even in Our Darkness: A Story of Beauty in a Broken Life
Jack Deere

Hardback: Zondervan, 2018
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Reviewed by Matthew R. Bardowell

 

There is a moment in Jack Deere’s memoir that illustrates what is perhaps the book’s main theme. A 10-year-old Jack sits in his living room amidst the family’s Christmas presents. Young Jack unwraps “a sturdy, vinyl blue and yellow model airplane with a small engine” (p. 26), but what he really wanted for Christmas was a larger balsa wood biplane with a big engine. The model plane he received was for beginners, and Jack, with the outsized confidence of the very young, did not consider himself a beginner. Naturally, he is disappointed, and his disappointment soon curdles to resentment. He is sent to his room. Later in the day, as he flew his vinyl plane, young Jack “crashed it after every takeoff” (27). Recollecting this scene, Deere remarks: “I was surrounded by [. . .] gifts, unable to feel anything but anger at what wasn’t there—an object of desire that I would have destroyed” (27). In these moments, Deere’s memoir is nearly Augustinian in its insight into the fallen human condition. The vinyl airplane is his pear tree.

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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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Spreading like Wildfire
 
A Review of

From Jerusalem to Timbuktu:
A World Tour of the Spread of Christianity
Brian Stiller

Paperback: IVP Books, 2018.
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Reviewed by Leroy Seat

 

Timbuktu, now one of the eight administrative regions of the Republic of Mali in West Africa, has long been used, as author Brian Stiller points out, “as a metaphor for a far-away and unreachable place.” But Timbuktu has literally become the geographical center for worldwide Christianity, which is a major emphasis of Stiller’s book. Especially in the last six or seven decades, Christianity has grown and spread in such a manner that now its “center” is farther south than it has ever been.

Stiller, a Canadian born in 1942, is well qualified to write a book on the growth of Christianity outside the North Atlantic countries over the past century. Since 2011 he has served as Global Ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance. In that position he has traveled extensively and has had contact with numerous Christian leaders, churches, and movements outside of North America.

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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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Nearer to the Heart of God
 
A Review of 
 

God in Disguise
Trudy Taylor Smith

Paperback: CreateSpace, 2018
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Reviewed by Kelly Treleaven
 
 
As a teacher in the American South living in an upper middle class neighborhood and wrestling with my own religious identity, I didn’t expect to feel as personally moved as I did by an account from a Christian missionary seeking solidarity with the poor in India. But that’s exactly what good memoirs do, they connect: across continents, through spaces and experiences and beliefs. With admirable narrative dexterity and piercing vulnerability, Trudy Smith relates her spiritual and physical journey in a way that will reach those longing to hear God’s voice, especially those who may suspect they are unworthy of hearing it, incapable of interpreting it, or deaf to it altogether.

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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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