At the beginning of the year I posted on “5 Books I Want to Read in 2008“, and I’ve wanted to do a short review on them since the new year. Finally, in April, I am getting around to it. I think it is worth doing, if a bit late. The books were very good and I recommend them all (the 4 out of 5 that I read… oops).
1. The Reason for God by Tim Keller
This book has been called a modern day Mere Christianity and, for my money, it lives up to the title. I was so impressed with Keller’s sensitivity to the culture we are living in and his ability to give clear, winsome answers to some of the toughest questions the Christian worldview faces today. The book grew out of Keller’s experience as a pastor in New York City, and it bears traces of its pastoral origins throughout. The first part of the book tackles questions like “How can one religion be right and others wrong?” How could a loving God send people to Hell?” “Can the Bible be trusted?” The second half of the book is a more general apology for the Christian religion. This is book is intelligent, but you don’t have to be an academic to read it. It presents the truthfulness of the Christian worldview, but there is not an person in my life who does not believe that I would not be comfortable giving a copy of The Reason for God. For more from Tim Keller check out Steve Mccoy’s Keller page.
2. Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll
Well, I didn’t actually get around to reading this one. Sorry Mark… I have read Driscoll before and heard him in sermons and recommend him highly. He is a breath of fresh air if you want straight talk and can take a little sharp humor. For more from Driscoll type his name into itunes and podcast his weekly sermons and Mars Hill Church.
3. Searching for a Better God by Wade Bradshaw
Another of Bradshaw’s books, By Demonstration: God, came at a time in my life when I was just begining to ask the questions Bradshaw was answering. The book was incredibly helpful, so I was excited to hear that he was writing another. Searching for a Better God is an expansion on an idea that he hinted at in By Demonstration: God. Bradshaw says that in the time Christianity arrived in the world the old gods were falling. They were flawed and fallen and essentially no different than corrupt humans, except they had more power. The people longed for a higher moral purity, something that was free of the pettiness of the greek and roman gods. They saw this in Christianity. Now, however, we are living in a time when the tables have turned. These days the culture looks at Christianity and believes itself to be more moral that the Christian God. God is seen to be judgmental, angry, wrathful, petty, and unfair and our culture is searching for a better God. Bradshaw analyzes our cultural climate and tries to renew the beauties of the real God in the minds of his readers. Like Keller, he takes on the culture’s most difficult questions and points, not to a better God, but a better understanding of the God of the Bible.
4. Being Human by Ranald Macaulay and Jerram Barrs
Being Human is a comprehensive book about so many things it is difficult to write a short review of it. The book is thoughtful and challenging. One of the primary goals of the book, as the title would suggest, is to answer the question: what does it mean to be human? Macaulay and Barrs’ say that that answer it fundamentally tied to the amazing fact that we are made in God’s image. Being human is simply living out the image of God in our daily lives. From there they scatter, talking about misconceptions the church has about what it means to be human, and presenting a positive vision for taking their ideas and actually living them out. Read this book if you want to learn foundational things that shape the way you see everything else.
5. The Heart of Prayer by Jerram Barrs
The beauty of this book is Barrs’ humility and sincerity. The book is abotu prayer, but it is not a how-to guide. You won’t find any formulas here to increase the power of your prayers. Instead you will find yourself being drawn to think of God’s care for you as a creation he has made and loves. If that is true then your prayers, short or long, eloquent or simply a desperate cry, will be heard. Barrs does offer practical thoughts and stories, however. The things I most valued about this book is Barrs’ posture. It not written from an expert to the inept, but as a fellow human, who continuously struggles in prayer, but who has found great solace in God’s care. For more from Jerram Barrs, go to Covenant Seminary’s webpage.