New and Notable Books (November 2015)

I am in the enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books, and every few weeks I like to provide a round-up of what is new and particularly notable. It has been a little while since my last update and I’ve got a few interesting ones to share with you.

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The Story of Everything: How You, Your Pets, and the Swiss Alps Fit into God’s Plan for the World by Jared C. Wilson. I have yet to come across a book by Jared Wilson that hasn’t been a joy to read. Here’s what his new one is about: “God is telling a story. Are you listening? We’re all searching for significance—something deeper, richer, and bigger than what we can see in our unremarkable, everyday routines. The greatest news we can hear is that God has a very real purpose for everything in this life. In The Story of Everything, Jared Wilson explores the redemptive story that God is telling in and through the world, helping us play our part in his ultimate plan to make all things new.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Pastor’s Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry by R. Kent Hughes & Doug O’Donnell. Here’s what the publisher says: “Pastors are tasked with the incredibly demanding job of caring for the spiritual, emotional, and, at times‚ physical needs of their people. While seminary is helpful preparation for many of the challenges pastors face, there’s far more to pastoral ministry than what can be covered in the classroom. Designed as a reference guide for nearly every situation a pastor will face, this comprehensive book by seasoned pastors Kent Hughes and Doug O’Donnell is packed full of biblical wisdom and practical guidance related to the reality of pastoral ministry in the trenches. From officiating weddings to conducting funerals to visiting the sick, this book will equip pastors and church leaders with the knowledge they need to effectively minister to their flocks, both within the walls of the church and beyond.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Trailblazer Box Sets by Christian Focus Publishers. The excellent Trailblazers series (which my 9-year-old is currently enjoying on her own and which are often read aloud in our children’s programs at church) are now available in box sets. These are short biographies written for children and young teens. Sets include Evangelists & Pioneers, Missionaries & Medics, Preachers & Teachers, Reformers & Activists, Heroes & Heroines, and Arts & Science. You can find them at Amazon.

A History of Western Philosophy and Theology by John Frame. This is a massive new book that has received some strong accolades. “Christians should evaluate philosophy by biblical criteria. This will shed greater light on the developments in the history of philosophy and better prepare us for the intellectual challenges of our time. The fall of Adam brought intellectual as well as moral corruption on the human race, and the effects of the fall can be seen in the work of philosophers, most of whom try to understand the world autonomously—through reasoning apart from God’s revelation. Some philosophers have appealed to God’s revelation, but their work has often been compromised with the wisdom of the world. Revelation should inform reason, and not the other way round. In the past, even Christian theology was corrupted by the movement toward intellectual autonomy, creating the tradition of liberalism, which has unhappily dominated academic theology down to the present day. But there is hope—a new generation of Christian thinkers take God’s Word seriously. Frame’s unique new contribution augments that process.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change by Denny Burk & Heath Lambert. “Faithful Christians today agree that the Bible forbids homosexual behavior. But when it comes to underlying desires, the jury is out. Some Christians view homosexual desire as morally neutral, while others believe it calls for repentance and gospel renewal. Is same-sex attraction sinful, even if it is not acted on? How we answer this urgent question determines how we counsel brothers and sisters who wrestle with same-sex desires. Denny Burk and Heath Lambert challenge misconceptions on all sides as they unpack the concepts of same-sex orientation, temptation, and desire. They show that ultimately a biblical view gives hope for profound personal change, with patterns remolded and rethought in faithfulness to Christ.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Knowing Christ by Mark Jones. Here is what J.I. Packer says in his foreword to the book: “The Puritans loved the Bible, and dug into it in depth. Also, they loved the Lord Jesus, who is of course the Bible’s focal figure; they circled round him, centred on him, studied minutely all that Scripture had to say about him, and constantly, conscientiously, exalted him in their preaching, praises, and prayers. Mark Jones, an established expert on many aspects of Puritan thought, also loves the Bible and its Christ, and the Puritans as expositors of both; and out of this triune love he has written a memorable unpacking of the truth about the Saviour according to the classic Reformed tradition, and the Puritans supremely. Knowing Christ is a book calculated to enrich our twenty-first-century souls, and one that it is an honour to introduce.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Reviving Reviving the Black Church by Thabiti Anyabwile. “Is the Black Church dying? The picture is mixed and there are many challenges. The church needs spiritual revival. But reviving and strengthening the Black Church will require great wisdom and courage. Reviving the Black Church calls us back to another time, borrowing the wisdom of earlier faithful Christians. But more importantly, it calls us back to the Bible itself. For there we find the divine wisdom needed to see all quarters of the Black Church live again, thriving in the Spirit of God. It’s pastor and church planter Thabiti Anyabwile’s humble prayer that this book might be useful to pastors and faithful lay members in reviving at least some quarters of the Black Church, and churches of every ethnicity and context—all for the glory of God.”