Brief Reviews, Volume 9

The Editor’s Desk – Lisa Sharon Harper, Shane Claiborne

I wrote brief reviews of the following books that were released in the last couple of weeks:

by C. Christopher Smith, editor of The Englewood Review of Books


[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”160″ identifier=”160142857X” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”107″][easyazon_link identifier=”160142857X” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]The Very Good Gospel:
How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right[/easyazon_link]

Lisa Sharon Harper
* * * * * (out of 5 stars)

A rich depiction of the flourishing life God intends for creation!

Many Christians, especially in the Evangelical tradition, are quick to identify with the gospel (i.e., good news) of Jesus. But why exactly is it good news that God’s kingdom is coming on earth as it is in heaven? This is the question that Lisa Sharon Harper sets out to answer in her superb new book THE VERY GOOD GOSPEL. Focusing on the scriptural concept of shalom, a Hebrew word that is often translated as “peace,” but is much broader than our typical understanding of peace, Harper explores the fullness of the shalom that God intends for creation and why it is indeed good news. The very good news is that God desires us to have shalom with God, shalom with ourselves, shalom between the genders, shalom with all creation, shalom for broken families, shalom in the midst of racial injustice, shalom between nations, and more.

This is a very accessible book (and it includes reflection exercises to help readers engage with it), and it provides one of the richest depictions of the flourishing life God intends for creation. Lisa Sharon Harper will undoubtedly stir our imaginations with her case for why the gospel is extraordinary news!


[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”160″ identifier=”0062347373″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”105″][easyazon_link identifier=”0062347373″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us[/easyazon_link]

Shane Claiborne
* * * * * (out of 5 stars)

A timely and winsome book that might just help to abolish the death penalty in our land forever

With his characteristic storytelling –both compelling and provocative – that was the hallmark of his bestselling book THE IRRESISTIBLE REVOLUTION over a decade ago, as well as the countless talks he has given since its release, Shane Claiborne offers us an insightful look at the death penalty, and why it should be abolished. Throughout the book, Claiborne urges us to be people of grace, just as God is a God of grace. He challenges us to consider our role in not obstructing God’s forgiving and redeeming work, even in the hardest of criminals. Even if you don’t agree with Claiborne’s perspective, I challenge you to read this book and to hear him out. He may or may not get you to change your mind, but he certainly will cause you to think, and to reconsider why you hold the position you do. EXECUTING GRACE is a timely and winsome book that might just help to abolish the death penalty in our land forever.



Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities
and the life of the church." 

-Karen Swallow Prior

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

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