Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Christian Marketplace’

Review – Grace Notes; Philip Yancey

I must first declare an interest; I’m a total Philip Yancey fan (there – I’ve said it!). ‘Grace Notes’ is drawn from the best of 30 years’ writing by the award-winning author and acts as something of a ‘Yancey Taster’; it’s therefore both good and bad.  Good, as it acts as a superb introduction to Yancey’s writings, and bad, in that inevitably it cannot do complete justice to the depth and quality of those writings. For that you have to read the actual books themselves.

Even if you do own all of Yancey’s books, this one is still worth buying just for the Preface alone. If you love books and you love good writing, you’ll very much appreciate the intro; it’s his personal synopsis of what led Yancey to write, along with many of the events along the way, as well as how he deals with the considerable impact he has made on other people through his writings – wonderful, moving, powerful ‘stuff’.

The structure of this book is 366 short daily readings drawn from the three decades of Yancey’s work – from books, magazine articles and miscellaneous jottings. The real bonus is the Comprehensive Index both of the subjects covered and the source of each reading, thus enabling the reader to ‘dip in’ at random (ignoring the daily plan!) and to come across so many beautiful instances of spiritual serendipity.  If you know Yancey well, this acts as great ‘memory-jogger’, but if not, it’s just a wonderful introduction to a truly inspirational and gifted Christian writer. The Descriptive Bibliography is also a delight; a short pen-portrait by the author of each of his books describing something of their genesis and background.

Philip Yancey started out as a journalist and has been writing articles for Christianity Today since 1983.  Four of his books have each sold over a million copies worldwide; he is probably best known for ‘What’s so Amazing about Grace?’ He moved to Colorado from Chicago in 1992 but, unlike the often questionable certainties of many other American writers, I particularly like Yancey for his honest and down-to-earth qualities. He too finds Christianity just a little perplexing and whilst, always insightful, never seeks to bring facile answers to what are so often the major mysteries of faith. 

As I get older, I have concluded that I could live with just the writings of Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, David Adam, Brennan Manning and, of course Philip Yancey.  My life is made ever so much richer by being in their company as a result of reading their books.  My favourite Yancey book is probably ‘Soul Survivor’ but now I’m torn by just having read his soon-to-be-published book and another certain best-seller, ‘What good is God’ which could be a strong contender for that particular spot – it is very Yancey and very good but that must be the subject of another review!

Grace Notes – Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim

Philip Yancey

2009     432pp

Zondervan

ISBN 978-0-310-51968-3

Note – This book was provided FOC by Clem Jackson, Editor of Christian Marketplace magazine for the purpose of writing this review. Further details can be found at http://www.christianmarketplace.org.uk. You can download a free copy of the digital version of the magazine from the website.

Advertisements

Review – The End of Christianity; William A. Dembski

March 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Dr William Dembski, described as a gifted Christian thinker, is a mathematician and philosopher and a well known champion of Intelligent Design (ID).  He’s author of a dozen plus books and has been cited in both Time magazine and the New York Times.

This book is an intellectual tour-de-force of Christian apologetics. It attempts to counter the recent rash of neo-atheism books, headlined by the likes of Richard Dawkins. Dembski is ‘pleased that Christianity is once again a live issue’ and the cover blurb describes the book as ‘provocative’.  For me, in places, it was simply impenetrable!

It tackles the age-old question – termed theodicy (the problem of a perfect God in an imperfect world) – with which all of us struggle; ‘how can a good God and an evil world co-exist’?

The book attempts to deal with the ever-perplexing problem of the existence of evil and to offer new insights into God’s purposes in allowing evil.

Dembski tries to reach an understanding of what the ‘end (result) of Christianity’ really means, hence the title. He tries to change our thinking so that we see God’s goodness in creation despite the distortion of sin and evil.

Augustine had said, ‘God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist’. The book argues that ‘God would be unjust if he didn’t subject the world to natural evil so that it reflects the evil in human hearts resulting from the fall’. It is therefore ‘painful to accept that God bears at least some responsibility for natural evil and that he brings it about in response to human sin’.

Here are the big questions; is human sin responsible for natural evil? Is the fall responsible for famine, floods and earthquakes? Does creation predate the fall and by how long? If so, how old is the earth and how do we understand and interpret the early chapters of Genesis? Does science now trump the traditional young-earth, creationist view of Genesis?

Dembski resolutely defends the claim that all evil is ultimately traceable to human sin at the fall.  It is this that is the cause of all evil, not God; ‘The essence of evil is the rebellion of the creature’, an action of created free will.

Along with other Christian thinkers, Dembski asserts that the main reason why people reject God is that they cannot believe that He is good.  He states that the key mark of faith is an ability to discern God’s goodness in the face of extreme evil.

Phew – I struggled big-time with this book. I found it difficult, fascinating, challenging and stretching. I’m far from qualified to comment on the arguments and around chapter 13, I just got hopelessly lost!

Why does God allow evil? I’m afraid I still don’t know. To me it remains a troubling and disturbing mystery.

The End of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World

William A. Dembski

2009     238pp

Paternoster / Authentic Media

ISBN 978-0-8054-2743-1

Note – This book was provided FOC by Clem Jackson, Editor of Christian Marketplace magazine for the purpose of writing this review. Further details can be found at http://www.christianmarketplace.org.uk. You can download a free copy of the digital version of the magazine from the website.

Review – The Sixty Minute Family; Rob Parsons

Rob Parsons is the consummate, inspirational communicator.  His books – read easily in 60 minutes – have always managed to stir my emotions through their witty and engaging anecdotes. His writing appeals to so many due to Rob’s warmth and honesty.

This latest title fairly zips through the various aspects of family life. Its value lies in the sheer breadth of material covering early parenting through to the ‘sandwich generation’ – when the roles of children and their parents reverse. 

Rob states that the most important priority for the family is ‘time’ and that it is this and ‘affirmation’ that actually make families work. Hopefully, my family won’t be holding up my score cards at this point – not sure I’d do that well.

The chapter ‘To learn to love in January’ is particularly helpful. It sensitively covers the acceptance of difficult relationship outcomes and of family breakdown.  Rob is especially forthright as he deals with ‘the ability of the affair to decimate families’. 

The ‘end of chapter’ action points are useful and allow for a careful reflection of the issues raised. Overall, this is vintage Parsons.

THE SIXTY MINUTE FAMILY

Rob Parsons

2010     121pp

Lion Hudson plc

ISBN 978-0-7459-5383-0

Note – This book was provided FOC by Clem Jackson, Editor of Christian Marketplace magazine for the purpose of writing this review. Further details can be found at http://www.christianmarketplace.org.uk. You can download a free copy of the digital version of the magazine from the website.

Review – The Church of Facebook; Jesse Rice

March 3, 2010 1 comment

I found this a compelling and straightforward read.  The title could prove misleading as the book is not about the Church per se but it is about community and connectivity.  It explores the issues created by our ‘always on’ world and the implications for the way we relate and the way we live out faith.

An aside to trade readers, it’s good to see Kingsway Books re-emerging, badged as DC Cook.

Even if you are not on Facebook yourself, you should read this book for fascination value, if nothing else! Facebook is a true social phenomenon with a simply massive worldwide user base. I use Facebook frequently and my own experience confirms that it really has proved a revolution in terms of my personal Interaction with others.

So if you too are into Facebook you should read this book. It’s a stimulating discussion of the main issues raised by social networking, written from a Christian perspective. You will recognise yourself, your online habits and the significant questions posed about, to and by most other users. For example, there is a useful section on what it means to be a Facebook ‘friend’.

I particularly enjoyed the well researched cameos about the London Millennium Bridge ‘sway’ and the Hubble Space Telescope ‘repairs’, but I won’t spoil it for you!

There is a very real warning concerning online friendships; these represent a connection; yes but true community; no.  For those who like me are finding that their time and ‘real’ relationships are being impacted by hyper-connectivity, there is practical help here for the handling of Facebook overload!  

Would I recommend this book? Yes, absolutely. Right, that’s it, let’s get back online!

The Church of Facebook

Jesse Rice

2009     232pp

David C Cook

ISBN 978-1-4347-6534-5

Note – This book was provided FOC by Clem Jackson, Editor of Christian Marketplace magazine for the purpose of writing this review. Further details can be found at http://www.christianmarketplace.org.uk. You can download a free copy of the digital version of the magazine from the website.

Review – The Challenge of Islam to the Church and its Mission

In this book, Dr Sookhdeo clearly believes that the Western Church is sleep-walking into danger in its appeasement of Islam and is deeply concerned about the likely impact on those Christians living in often hostile Muslim countries.

Sookhdeo has written this strong polemic against the rapprochement of inter-faith dialogue with Islam so beloved of certain Christian groups. It’s clear that he feels more at home with the Vatican on this issue than with some evangelicals! A number of well-known Christian leaders come in for criticism here.

Patrick Sookhdeo knows his subject well. Born a Muslim in South America, he converted to Christianity and is a recognised authority on Islam.  I learnt a great deal from this book, not least that I actually know so little about Islam myself. Much of what he writes I found disturbing and we would do well to heed the warning. His brief summaries of the current issues faced by the presence of Islam in the West are simply excellent.

The book is not that clear on what needs to be done and questions whether our western secular, liberal democracies are already being changed irrevocably by the gradual rise of Islamic thought and practice.

Sadly, I’m not sure that the book will get the circulation that it undoubtedly deserves as I’d never heard of this American publisher.  Oh … and this is a revision of a 2006 UK published edition.

The Challenge of Islam to the Church and its Mission

Patrick Sookhdeo

2008     192pp

Isaac Publishing USA

ISBN 978-0-9787141-5-4

Note – This book was provided FOC by Clem Jackson, Editor of Christian Marketplace magazine for the purpose of writing this review. Further details can be found at http://www.christianmarketplace.org.uk. You can download a free copy of the digital version of the magazine from the website.

%d bloggers like this: