A Batch of Important, New Books
The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath (IVP) $16 Science journalist Dr. Timothy Johnson notes its “rigorous logic and exquisite fairness…” Michael Ruse says, “The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGrath’s show why.”
The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives Ravi Zacharias (Zondervan) $18.99 I believe it was Ravi who I first heard lecture against the meaninglessness of Dawkins’ view. Here, he shows that the threads of our lives are intentionally arranged. John Ortberg writes, “Zacharias never met a question he didn’t like. Here he explores life’s deepest questions in a tapestry that is personal, winsome, and clear.” Mark Buchanan says that “Ravi brings a keen mind, a tender heart, and a deft touch to the task…”
Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Mark D. Roberts (Crossway) $12.99 Scot McKnight’s blurb is helpful: “What F.F. Bruce did for my generation of students, Mark Roberts has done for the current generation. Any student who asks me if our Gospels are reliable will be given this book, and then I’ll buy another copy for the next student!” It has been called “brilliant” and “quite simply the best effort I have ever read by a serious scholar to communicate what scholars know about the Gospels…”
Without a Map: A Memoir Meredith Hall (Beacon) $24.95 So, Hearts & Minds raves about books offering a conservative apologetic for life’s meaning in a few recommendations, and then tells of a very, very moving memoir published by the renowned Unitarian publishers of Boston. So be it. This is more than a lovely memoir of spiritual journey, grief, examination and reflection and struggle, it is, Ivan Doig asserts, “one of the bravest stories…bone-honest and strong in every line.” David James Duncan calls it “a masterpiece.” Another lit critic says “Halls magnificent book held me in its thrall from the moment I began reading the opening pages.” With favorite writers like Sven Birkerts saying it is “like a geiger counter ticking along the radium edge of these recent decades. She gives us self as expert witness…” who wouldn’t be intrigued. That it is about her being kicked out of her Sunday school and family when unexpectedly pregnant at age 16, and her coping with this betrayal, makes is a matter of grave importance especially for those who care about righting the wrongs of toxic religion. We can learn much from those who tell the tale truthfully.
Signs of Emergence: A Vision for the Church That is Organic/Networked/
Decentralized/Bottom-Up/Communal/Flexible (Always Evolving.) Kester Brewin (Baker/emergent village) $14.99 Last year, we nearly moved heaven and earth to import a copy of British release, The Complex Christ for one of my best friends, a young, emergent pastor in Pittsburgh. This is the brand new U.S. edition, with a very new title. With rave, rave reviews from Peter Rollins, Alan Hirsch, Tom Sine, Shane Claiborne and other urban workers and those who celebrate the complexity of new thinking, science, webs, change theory and new imagination---applied to urban churches, especially, this may be the book of the year. You really should know about it.
Soul Graffiti: Making a Life in the Way of Jesus Mark Scandrette (Jossey-Bass) $21.95 A friend just heard a pod-cast of Scandrette and said he was fascinating. (“Out there” I think were his exact words.”) Beautifully written, edgy, a great story of the authors brave journey to a lived faith. Mark Oestreicher of Youth Specialties says it is “a story-weaver’s bountiful spread---filled with chocolate and wine and artisan bread---of the present Kingdom of God.” Anybody who runs something called The Jesus DoJo has my interest…
The God Of Intimacy and Action: Reconnecting Ancient Spiritual Practices, Evangelism, and Justice Tony Campolo and Mary Albert Darling (Jossey-Bass) $21.95 Anyone who has heard Campolo knows that alongside his call to urban ministry and third world development, his call to serve God fully and to witness boldly, to be agents of social change, he also, always, gives a call to spiritual renewal, to contemplative prayer, to reliance on the Holy Ghost. Here, with a colleague at Spring Arbor College, he “reconnects ancient spiritual practices, evangelism and justice.” How nice to see a bold endorsement from Richard Foster, John Ortberg, Richard Rohr. Mary has been a leader in teaching about the spiritual disciplines (a Wesleyan taught by Jesuits) and her co-authorship of this important book makes for a fabulous energy and balance and depth. Spread the word!
John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace Jonathan Aitken (Crossway) $21.99 The esteemed Mr. Aitken was a distinguished MP in the British Parliament and went on to even more prestigious public service in the Cabinet there.** He currently is the Executive Director of the Trinity Forum in Europe, and active in human rights advocacy. An experienced and serious biographer, he has garnered rave reviews for this new, significant bio of the slave trader turned pastor and abolitionist. With endorsements from Mark Noll, Os Guinness, Chuck Colson, Alister McGrath, Rodney Stark and other important historians, scholars and cultural critics, this book is sure to be much discussed and on many “best of the year” lists.
**Jonathan Aitken, as Philip Yancey explains in his wonderful forward to this book, was convicted of perjury while in high government service and went to jail. Rather than a fall from grace as is commonly said, it was, rather, a fall into grace. Like Mr. Colson before him---and somewhat like the despicable Mr. Newton---Aitken knows well the struggle to find new life, to read while in prison, to emerge a new man. His own personal conversion is not the subject of this book, but his own obvious insight into the story of one like Newton, makes this a remarkably apropos author for a very important story. Amazing grace, indeed. Thanks be to God.
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