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New and Notable Christian Books for May 2020

I am in the happy position of receiving endless numbers of Christian books. Every month or so I try to sort through them to identify the new books that seem most noteworthy and, therefore, may be of most interest to readers like you. Here is the selection for May 2020, including the publishers’ descriptions. (Note: I’ve skimmed these books, but have not thoroughly read most of them, so you should not see these as reviews.)

Exploring the Bible Together: A 52-Week Family Worship Plan by David Murray. I have been a fan of David Murray’s resources meant to help young children develop patterns of devotion and am glad to see it now extended to family worship. “This new resource will help families establish regular family devotions through realistic aims, a clear plan and direction, and stimulating interaction with Scripture and prayer. It provides a big-picture overview of the whole Bible over the course of a year. Fifty-two weekly “expeditions” are each divided into 6 days, with a small passage of Scripture, two questions (one for older kids and one for younger kids), a brief application lesson, and a short prayer prompt. Artwork by illustrator Scotty Reifsnyder accompanies each page. In just a few minutes a day, families can explore the whole story of the Bible together.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

When Doctrine Divides the People of God: An Evangelical Approach to Theological Diversity by Rhyne R. Putman. Christians have always been prone to divide from one another, but some of that spirit seems to have been amplified in an always-online digitally-connected world. For that reason I’m pleased to see several new books addressing it. This one looks hopeful. “In When Doctrine Divides the People of God, Rhyne Putman reflects on how Christians can hold to the inerrancy of Scripture and still arrive at different interpretations, and what to do when those disagreements stand between them and the biblical call for unity. This thorough analysis of theological diversity in the church provides essential biblical application—grace in disagreement, firmness in truth, and unity in diversity.” (Buy it at Amazon)

The Fulfillment of the Promises of God: An Explanation of Covenant Theology by Richard Belcher. “A variety of views and nuances of covenant theology exist within the Reformed church and the broader evangelical world. This book seeks to explain covenant theology as presented in the Westminster Confession of Faith as a starting point for discussions of covenant theology and as a foundation to evaluate other views. Some variations of covenant theology are minor and do not impact the system of doctrine of Reformed theology, but other variations are major and impact important doctrines associated with justification by faith. Attention is also given to the views of confessional Baptists, as well as those who are evangelicals and operate with a covenantal approach to Scripture. This book combines a straightforward explanation of basic covenant theology followed by more detailed analysis of other views.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

New Life in Christ: What Really Happens When You’re Born Again and Why It Matters by Steven Lawson. “What actually happens when you trust Christ for salvation? The single most important event in a person’s life is the new birth. Yet many Christians would be hard-pressed to describe exactly what it is, let alone what it means to the rest of their walk with God. What happens when we are born again? Does everything in our lives change immediately? Is it just a kind of spiritual do-over, a chance to get it right this time? What happens when we fail? Does it mean we weren’t really born again to begin with? With a pastor’s heart and a professor’s insight, Steven Lawson carefully examines the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus found in John 3 to uncover the nature of this spiritual rebirth. He shows you the necessity of the new birth, how God changes our hearts through it, and what follows after, from baptism and involvement in a local church to handling doubts and setbacks.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The American Puritans by Dustin Benge and Nate Pickowicz. “In The American Puritans, Dustin Benge and Nate Pickowicz tell the story of the first hundred years of Reformed Protestantism in New England through the lives of nine key figures: William Bradford, John Winthrop, John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, Thomas Shepard, Anne Bradstreet, John Eliot, Samuel Willard, and Cotton Mather. Here is sympathetic yet informed history, a book that corrects many myths and half-truths told about the American Puritans while inspiring a current generation of Christians to let their light shine before men.” Subjects include William Bradford, John Winthrop, John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, Thomas Shepard, Anne Bradstreet, John Eliot, Samuel Willard, Cotton Mather.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Bedrock of Christianity: The Unalterable Facts of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection by Justin Bass. “Can we all agree on some things about Jesus, regardless of our belief—or unbelief? Perhaps surprisingly, there is a lot upon which all scholars can agree. When surveying historical scholarship, there are certain truths about Jesus that Christians, agnostics, and skeptics must affirm. In The Bedrock of Christianity, Justin Bass shows how—regardless of one’s feelings about Christianity—there lies a bedrock of truths about Jesus’ life and ministry that are held by virtually all scholars of ancient history, classics, and biblical studies. Through an examination of each of these key facts, readers will encounter the unalterable truths upon which everyone can agree. Useful for both Christians and non-Christians alike, this study demonstrates what we can really know about the historical truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection.” (Buy it at Amazon)

Joel: A Discourse Analysis of the Hebrew Bible (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament) by Joel Barker. “Designed for the pastor and Bible teacher, the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament features today’s top Old Testament scholars and brings together commentary features rarely gathered together in one volume. With careful discourse analysis and interpretation of the Hebrew text, the authors trace the flow of argument in each Old Testament book, showing that how a biblical author says something is just as important as what they say. Commentary on each passage follows a clear structure to help readers grasp the flow and meaning of the text. The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament series is the go-to resource for pastors and Bible teachers looking for deep but accessible study that equips them to connect the needs of Christians today with the biblical text.” (Buy it at Amazon)

Stay Salt: The World Has Changed: Our Message Must Not by Rebecca Manley Pippert. “The world has changed in so many ways, and many of us no longer feel confident when it comes to evangelism, especially with the rise of hostility towards Christian points of view. Keeping quiet is becoming our default position. Yet the world has not changed in one way—it still needs Jesus. Renowned evangelist Becky Pippert draws on decades of conversations about Christianity around the world to call and equip ordinary Christians to share Jesus through their ordinary day-to-day conversations. She shows that by leaning on our extraordinary God, such conversations can, and often do, have extraordinary results. They will transform hearts, transform society, and transform the world! Weaving Bible teaching with compelling stories, Stay Salt is the next generation ‘Out of the Saltshaker’ for this new era. It will give readers the confidence share Jesus like Jesus—relevantly, thoughtfully, and effectively.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

A Place to Belong: Learning to Love the Local Church by Megan Hill. I have quite enjoyed Megan Hill’s writing and am sure this is another book worth reading. And surely the time we all spent apart from the local church during the pandemic has given us an ever-greater appreciation for God’s wisdom in calling us to the local church. “In this book, Megan Hill answers a common question of churchgoers: What’s so great about the church? With rich theology, practical direction, and study questions for group use, Hill encourages and equips both first-time visitors and regular members to delight in being a part of the local church—no matter how messy and ordinary it seems today. It is only when God’s people begin to see one another as the Lord sees them that they will truly find a place to belong.” (Buy it at Amazon)

Character Matters: Shepherding in the Fruit of the Spirit by Aaron Menikoff. “Pastor, it’s time to turn down the noise and focus on what matters. Today’s pastoral world is packed with books, conferences, and seminars teaching you different techniques for being an all-star pastor, growing your church quickly, and changing the world. But the key to true success is much harder and much simpler. Pastors are called to be faithful, to have exemplary character, and to love Jesus. Without faithfulness, their ministry ends up harming others rather than helping them. Churches need pastors with sound doctrine and a sound life. Character Matters was written to help you slow down, cut through the noise and distractions, and focus on what matters—the fruit of the Spirit. Each chapter is a guided, biblical meditation on one aspect of each piece of the fruit of the Spirit. As you reflect and focus on the simple things that matter, you’ll see your heart change and your ministry follow, slowly, surely, and by the power of the Spirit.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus by Nancy Guthrie. “The story of Jesus in the Gospels includes all kinds of interesting people–some who claimed to be saints but proved to be scoundrels, as well as scoundrels who were transformed into saints. In Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus, Nancy Guthrie provides a fresh look into what shaped and motivated people such as John the Baptist, Peter, the Pharisees, Zacchaeus, Judas, Caiaphas, Barabbas, Stephen, and Paul. Join her as she reintroduces us to these biblical characters, helping us to see more clearly the ways in which they reveal the generous grace of Jesus toward sinners.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)


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