New Reviews: How Much Is a Whack?

Posted by Mark Tubbs
In New Reviews
October 29, 2008 @ 4:24 PM

However much a 'whack' constitutes, we've got a whack of recent reviews for you to peruse.

Founding Editor Tim Challies was the only contributor this week, with six new reviews of a diverse array of books.

Most notably, Howard Publishing, Simon & Schuster's Christian imprint, has released uber-famous pastor-author Rick Warren's Christmas-themed evangelism hardcover, The Purpose of Christmas. Tim's take on the book is that while it could have been an excellent resource, and still may prove a blessed vehicle of conversion for some nonbelievers, it crashes and burns with Christian clichés and lack of profundity or nuance.

Second, Tim weighs in with a favorable review of Missional/Reformed (or Reformed/Missional) pastor-author Tim Keller's second offering from secular publisher Dutton: the sensationally-titled The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith. In it, Keller liberates the word 'prodigal' from its unfortunate semantic baggage, producing a reading of the Prodigal Son parable that will force both believers and nonbelievers to re-evaluate their faith - or lack thereof.

Still on the Christian author 'A' list, we turn to Reformation Trust's reprint of R.C. Sproul's Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow, a useful primer on basic Christian disciplines. Incidentally, the cover art looks like my 5th birthday cake.

No less worthy of the 'A' list in Tim's opinion is Chris Brauns' Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds, a biblical but controversial exposition of the Bible's teaching on forgiveness. Brauns' teaching runs counter to much evangelical thought, but Tim appreciates Brauns' reticence to fall back on easy answers, and recommends Unpacking Forgiveness for every Christian's bookshelf.

From the New York Times Bestseller List, Tim took the opportunity of a flight to read through Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time, the story of adventurer Greg Mortensen as told to author David Relin. While Tim more or less enjoyed the story, he was a bit put off by its humanistic emphasis.

Somewhat lesser known than Warren, Sproul, or Keller (and possibly even Mortensen!), Michael Horton nonetheless occupies the front ranks of Reformed authors. In Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church Horton laments the 'silliness' of many Westerners' approach to the gospel. Horton is sounding alarm bells reminiscent of Francis Schaeffer's warnings of 'accommodation' and C.S. Lewis' caution against 'weightlessness.'

A week before, Trevin Wax reviewed Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, a look at Christianity's role in the betterment of the world - a betterment, assert Hauerwas and Willimon, that looks very different than the world's understanding of betterment.

Also the week before, Leslie Wiggins recommended women read Nancy Leigh DeMoss' second book in the Revive Our Hearts Triology, Surrender: The Heart God Controls. A warning: Leslie's devotional review is a beautiful piece of writing, so you may feel you don't need to invest in the actual book!

I (Mark Tubbs) also reviewed a book recently - a speed read in the days before the Canadian federal election. Radical Tories: The Conservative Tradition in Canada, by the late journalist Charles Taylor, was named one of the Top 100 Canadian Books of all time by the Literary Review of Canada (a fully warranted honour), but contains political ideas about being a conservative pertinent to all cultures and countries.

Last, but certainly not least, Tim reviewed the long-awaited, critically-acclaimed, hot-off-the-presses ESV Study Bible. Rather than reproduce his careful reviewing work here, I will commend his thorough review to you.