Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Adventures in Evangelical Civility: A Lifelong Quest for Common Ground

Adventures in Evangelical Civility: A Lifelong Quest for Common GroundAdventures in Evangelical Civility: A Lifelong Quest for Common Ground by Richard J. Mouw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. Richard Mouw is an encouraging person, and this is an encouraging look at his life. As someone who was converted late in my teens and proceeded to join the only denomination, nay-the only church, that was anywhere near biblical (and then proceeded to do that very thing 2 or 3 more times), I have been on a 15-year quest to be properly catholic-gracious yet discerning, willing to learn but able to stand firm, charitable yet wholly convinced. Hearing the former Fuller President reminisce about the ebb and flow of his thought and life reminded me of the need and benefit of recognizing that charity is not a weakness and grace is not opposed to standing firm.

Mouw offers a memoir rather than an autobiography, and I am glad that he chose to do so. First, it allowed me to learn the difference, and second, that choice gave him the freedom to organize his recollections around topics and ideas, rather than chronology and events. Some people’s lives are defined by events, but some people are better examined through an ideological lens, and Mouw definitely falls into the latter category.

I do not always agree with Mouw, but I appreciate the fact that he is firmly convicted of his beliefs and firmly determined to be a unifier, divide-crosser, and brother to all who find their hope and joy in Jesus Christ, as well as a friend to all who bear the image of the eternal One.

Mouw’s memoir is a blessing that needs to be read by many, many people.

Review copy provided.

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Evolution and the Bible

Evolution: Scripture and Nature Say YesEvolution: Scripture and Nature Say Yes by Denis Lamoureux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Denis Lamoureux has produced a work that will go a long way in combatting the fallacious either/or dichotomy that continually drives many unbelievers away from the Christian faith and many believers away from scientific endeavors. Lamoureux combines history, theology, science, and personal anecdotes to help the reader recognize that reading Genesis has never been as straightforward as many would seek all to believe. This volume, and Lamoureux’s work in general, is doing much to knock down Evangelical shibboleths that go beyond requiring allegiance to God’s word by requiring unquestioned loyalty to one interpretation of God’s word. There are plenty of areas that I would disagree with Lamoureux’s conclusions as well as presuppositions, and I think the book suffers from a couple of unnecessary sections (I am not sure how Darwin’s faith or lack thereof actually matters in this discussion), but the book as a whole is solid.

Can you be a Christian and embrace evolution? Lamoureux would argue that not only can this be the case, but this should be the case. I do not know if I am ready to go that far with him, but I have become increasingly willing to embrace the fact that genuine, God-fearing, Christ-loving, Bible-believing Christians can be fully convinced about evolution as the mechanism of God’s creation. If you want a brief, clear, approachable representation of the argumentation that has brought me and others to this point, Lamoureux’s newest work is precisely what you’re looking for.

Review Copy received from the publisher

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Martin Luther

Martin Luther (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)Martin Luther by Simonetta Carr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 Simonetta Carr’s series of biographies is a hard set to define. The books are aimed at children, but they are informative and utterly unique. I guess what I am trying to say is that I do not feel embarrassed that I consistently find a way to shelve these with my books rather than my kids—selfish, yes; embarrassed, no.

Carr’s biography of Martin Luther is destined to endure this same sort of shelf migration the which others have grown accustomed. It comes just in time for the 500th celebration of the Reformation next year when many around the world will be thanking God anew for that special grace he exhibited in Wittenberg in October of 1517. Carr’s work will serve as an invaluable aid because of how engaging, encouraging, and spiritually and mentally edifying it is.

The biographical details are clearly presented, and most readers will not have any problem with the text. Younger readers might need a parent to read through it with them the first time, and I would encourage you to be the one to volunteer to read it with them. Beyond the text, the book as a whole is expectedly gorgeous. If this is your first entrance into the series, you will be amazed. If you have enjoyed Carr’s bios before, do not expect to be the least bit disappointed. The maps are helpful; the illustrations are gorgeous. The photos of places and relics make you feel like you are visiting a museum. My favorite pictures are the one of Luther’s room at the Wartburg castle and the drawbridge he crossed upon leaving his place of hiding. The book concludes with a “Did You Know” section, a timeline, and some excerpts from his catechism. I would have taken a page at the end and included the text of “A Mighty Fortress,” but that simply may be just my immense affection for the song shining through.

Martin Luther another great volume from the “Christian Biographies for Young Readers” series. Grab this one, or any of them, and you will be greatly pleased.

Review copy provided.

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