Jesus without Religion (What Did He Say? What Did He Do? What's the Point?)
Rick James, IVP Press, 2007, ISBN 9780830836079, 140 pages, $13.00, softcover.
This short book attempts to retell the story of Jesus: His prophetic heritage, His virgin birth, His ministry, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His commission for worldwide evangelism. James utilizes Scripture, Jewish tradition, and Roman writings to give a simple rendering of the impact that Jesus of Nazareth has made on humanity.
James points out that prophets foretold the Messiah would be virgin-born; He would be born in Bethlehem; and He would be called "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." The promised Redeemer would be announced by "a voice crying in the wilderness," a prophecy of the ministry of John the Baptist.
The author's last sections point to irrefutable proof that Jesus rose from the dead. Apostles and other disciples saw Him as He walked the earth after His resurrection. This alone can account for the rapid spread of the gospel and its continuing vitality today.
Glen H. Jones
Making Sense of Your World: a Biblical Worldview (Second Edition)
W. Gary Phillips, William E. Brown, John Stonestreet, 2008, ISBN 9781879215511, Sheffield Publishing, 293 pages, $19.95, softcover.
Every person has a basic set of assumptions about life (a worldview) that form his or her beliefs and guide his decisions. Following Christ places demands on our hearts and lives but also on the ways in which we interpret the world around us. In Making Sense of Your World, Phillips, Brown, and Stonestreet powerfully challenge readers to understand why they think what they think.
The book is divided into three sections. Part one introduces the concept of worldview and analyzes the four broad categories of worldviews which people hold: Naturalism (the view that the physical world is the sum total of reality), Transcendentalism (the view that all beings and things are part of one spiritual reality), Theism (the view that reality is the result of creation by a deity), and Postmodernism (the view that all points of view are equally real and equally valid). Each of these is then critiqued according to its ability to answer the deep questions of life.
In part two, the authors discuss the essentials of a biblical worldview and the scriptural and practical reasons that such a perspective is the only one that accurately fits reality. Additionally, they provide biblical answers to two major philosophical arguments against Christianity: the problem of evil and religious pluralism
Part three shows how a biblical worldview interprets the self, the family, the church, and the world, and provides a vision for the redemption of each of those cornerstones of life.
The first edition of Making Sense of Your World was one of the first works on worldview, and it remains a standard text on the subject at many Christian colleges. The new edition updates the still-sharp arguments and devotes further attention to challenges of today, such as the spread of postmodernism and the rise of Islam to the world stage.
Type: Worldview / Philosophy
Take: Must Read
Ancient-Future Worship-Proclaiming and Enacting God's Narrative
Robert E. Webber, Baker Books, 2008, ISBN 9780801066245, 191 pages, $14.00, softcover.
"How should I read the Bible?" a student asked "Read it as true," answered the author. He then expounded: "Do not read it as if it were true; do not read it looking for truths in it-but simply as truth itself."
Webber, who died not long after completing this final volume in his Ancient-Future series, was making the point that instead of using God for our purposes and importing Him into our stories, we should place ourselves in His Story-as did the apostles and early church fathers.
The ancients, he noted, were completely Christocentric, finding Jesus Christ as the heart and meaning of all history. But the modern church, he believes, has largely been caught up in either denigrating the Bible (liberals) or defending it against its attackers (conservatives), and both sides fail to draw from it the nourishment the Word offers to those who simply accept and believe.
Webber believed the church needs to recapture both the mode and the content of second century worship. This reviewer believes his argument is most convincing concerning the Word-and the book is well worth delving into for this alone-but less so in chapters devoted to ancient forms of worship, the eucharist, and prayer.
Target: Pastoral Leaders
Take: Mixed Reaction
C. S. Lewis, My Godfather (Letters, Photos and Recollections)
Laurence Harwood, IVP Books, 2007, ISBN 9780830834983, 147 pages, $16.00, hardcover.
Much has been written concerning C. S. Lewis. Laurence Harwood adds his fresh glimpse of this notable scholar and human being. Laurence's father and Lewis were close friends at Oxford, a friendship that continued as long as both were alive. Lewis made frequent visits to the Harwood home and became attached to young Laurence.
The author offers some previously unknown personal insights into the life of Lewis. C. S. frequently wrote long letters to young Harwood. One such letter concerned Harwood's flunking out of Oxford. Rather that showing disappointment in his godson, Lewis offered Laurence suggestions for continuing his college education at another institution. Laurence has also included several photographs of Lewis, Laurence's father, and Owen Barfield (another close friend of Lewis).
Those who have a keen interest in the life of C. S. Lewis will appreciate the previously unpublished memorabilia relating to this famous scholar.
Glen H. Jones