Core Christianity (What is Christianity All About?)
Elmer Towns, AMG Publishers, 2007,
ISBN 9780899571096, 155 pages, $12.99, softcover.
Co-founder of Liberty University and prolific author Elmer Towns has written a rather short, easy-to-understand book that captures the essence of the Christian life. It is clearly apologetic without being overly dogmatic.
Towns shows that Christianity springs from the life and ministry of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. His coming was told long before by the prophets in the pages of an amazing book, the Holy Bible. Jesus came not to teach dogma but to call men and women to a life-changing experience through faith in His divine Being. The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth calling all to repent of their sins and turn in faith to the only way to eternal life. "I am the way, the truth, and the life," Jesus said.
After His rejection by the entrenched religious system, He was crucified on a Roman cross, but after three days in the grave He came forth in resurrected life. His followers gained new hope when God's Holy Spirit empowered them to go everywhere proclaiming forgiveness of sin through His name.
Paul, a later apostle, further explained in a series of letters that being a follower of Jesus meant a transformed and morally clean life. "Christ is our life," Paul wrote. Followers of Jesus feel constrained to tell others of their transformed life. Through individual and group (church) effort believers spread the good news: "Whosoever will may come."
Followers of Jesus experience joy and forgiveness now. They have purpose and meaning in life. We also have assurance of eternal life now and in the future.
Glen H. Jones
Take: Highly Recommended
The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity
Alex McFarland, Regal Books, 2007, ISBN 0830742980, 253 pages, $14.99, softcover.
Almost everyone has some puzzling question about Christianity. Some questions come from believers who want to strengthen their faith. Others come from those who are skeptical or downright hostile to the gospel. McFarland attempts to answer some of the most often asked questions about the Bible and Christian faith.
Is God real? How can I know that He really exists? McFarland points out that for every effect there must be a cause, every creation must have a creator, every design must have a designer, and every law must have a lawgiver. The transcendent unknown is God.
God has revealed Himself in the Bible. The honest doubter in the reliability of Scripture can examine history, archeology, scientific accuracy, and fulfilled prophecy to reveal that the Bible is not an ordinary book.
The Bible also tells us that something has gone terribly wrong with humanity: murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and a thousand other things the Bible calls sin. Jesus came to do something about sin and through His sacrifice on the cross, He created the possibility for humans to make things right with God and within themselves.
Of all the world's religions, only biblical Christianity offers the repentant sinner a personal relationship with God apart from any good works the individual can perform.
The author addresses other questions skeptics often ask: Would a loving God send people to hell? Are humans basically good? If there is a God why does He allow so much suffering? And, aren't Christians all hypocrites?
Glen H. Jones
Take: Highly Recommended
Evil and the Justice of God
N. T. Wright, InterVarsity Press, 2006, ISBN 9780830833986, 176 pages, $18.00, hardcover.
When the work of a theologian is done well, the implications for Christian living are unavoidable. Evil and the Justice of God is good theology done with extraordinary insight and skill. Only the careless reader will walk away from this book unchanged.
Rather than address the "problem of evil" as a philosophical dilemma, Wright has faced the presence of evil in us and in our world, well within reach of the thoughtful reader. He brings together his broad understanding of the Scriptures, insight into
the human condition, and a grasp of humankind's shared dilemma, to craft a piercing challenge to any who would be a serious Christ-bearer.
I took up the book thinking it was another heady, intellectual deliberation. When my (second) reading of it was over, I was compelled to take a closer look at what our Lord says about forgiveness, and at how to address some of my own conduct differently.
Pulpit Helps is for preachers. So is this book. I recommend it. Its first impact will be on your own thinking and discipleship. That, in turn, will be solid groundwork for every other facet of your ministry.
Target: Serious Disciples
Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings
Cindy Crosby, ed., Thomas C. Oden, gen. ed., a formatio imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2007, ISBN 0830834311, 291 pages, $17.00, softcover.
This is a truly different devotional, composed as it is of brief quotations from the early church fathers, organized into weekly readings, following the ancient lectionary pattern. The devotions can be read through in order, or by thematic interest. They can also be dipped into daily, though the material may be scanty at times when thus sub-divided
One of the great benefits of the book is being able to become acquainted with the minds of the men who grappled with the tough issues-such as how Jesus Christ could be both God and man-and who passed on to us the framework of understanding which we take for granted today. Through their writings they come alive as brothers in Christ who have gone before us.
But, of course, the greatest benefit, as with any good devotional, is that it helps us come worshipfully into God's presence! "To search the sacred Scripture is very good and most profitable for the soul. For, like a tree which is planted near the running waters,' so does the soul watered by sacred Scripture also grow hearty and bear fruit in due season," writes John of Damascus in Orthodox Faith (4.17).
A section of biographical sketches at the back of the book joins an index, prayer citations, and citations to source volumes in The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series from InterVarsity Press.