You can tell I’m trying to clear my backlog of books waiting to be reviewed. Here’s another batch. There’s one more batch waiting.
I’m saving a couple of books for later so I can review them at greater length. I’ll get those reviews posted sometime in July.
Not the Religious Type is written by Dave Schmelzer, a Vineyard pastor in Boston. He wasn’t always a pastor; he was an atheist until his college years. This book is more spiritual memoir than an apologetics textbook. It’s an easy read, and Schmelzer makes it even easier with his humor and humility. I can see giving this book to a friend, although I found myself wishing for the gospel to be more prominent in this book. This could be a good book to give out with a more robust book like Tim Keller’s The Reason for God.
At first glance, The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations on the Face seemed like it was trying too hard to be edgy. But then I read Trevin Wax’s review and realized that I should give this book a chance. I’m glad I did. This is a book that refuses to domesticate God. The author appreciates the good that’s come from the emerging church, but he also pushes us to move beyond its weaknesses. It’s a book that combines good theology and good writing. I’ll be returning to this book. Recommended.
I really appreciated Consuming Jesus by Paul Louis Metzger, so I was glad to get a copy of Exploring Ecclesiology, authored by Metzger and Brad Harper. This book uses the Trinity and eschatology as two theological lenses to discuss issues surrounding the church, such as worship, sacraments, spiritual gifts, structure, culture, and mission. This is a book that takes the church seriously and deals with some of the major issues facing the church today. I’d recommend this book for pastors who want to wrestle with their theology of a church in a way that will translate into practice.
You’ve probably heard of Experiencing God, which was all the rage a decade or so ago. This revised and expanded edition supposedly has some seventy percent of its material newly written. I’m sometimes concerned by the subjectivism and pietism in this book. The idea of joining God in what he’s doing can be helpful, but at best it needs to be qualified. We don’t always know what God is doing; he’s sometimes at work when it doesn’t seem that much is happening. I found Mike Wittmer’s post on this book helpful. Lots of good in this book – but I have some pretty significant concerns as well.
Hungry for Life addresses the problem of global imbalance. It also outlines a biblical picture of a compassionate church, and describes the core changes necessary for transformation. I found the book most challenging when it addresses how the church uses its money internally. “We have lost our mission to transform the world around us and have replaced it with the mission of trying not to lose those we already have.” It asks some tough questions of Christian leaders. Not an easy book to read, and you may not agree with all of its arguments, but it’s a worthwhile book to study.
If God Disappears is about nine faith wreckers: issues like the problem of evil, our tendency to live as rugged individualists, living according to our own rules, struggling with the church, and more. It’s not a book for skeptics as much as it is for believers who are wavering in their faith. It’s readable and full of helpful, biblical guidance. A good book for any of us who find ourselves drifting from God.