As new books pile up around the home, and time does not permit a proper review of each one, the next best thing is to give a number of them at least a brief mention and write-up. So here I have another instalment of my irregular series on recommended new books.
As is often the case, this is a rather eclectic mix of books. Many are biblical or theological in nature, but other volumes on quite different topics are also included here. So here are a dozen new books (all of them came out in 2015), which you may well be interested in. I offer them in no particular order, other than how I had them piled up on my desk! Here they are:
Charles Colson, My Final Word. Zondervan, 2015. Colson, the former politician, and founder of Prison Fellowship, passed away in 2012. In addition to his many books, articles and radio broadcasts, this is a collection of his latest pieces which had not been previously published. Essays cover a wide range of subjects, including worldviews, bioethics, Islam, homosexuality, persecution and apologetics. Colson is always well worth reading.
Clarke, Peter, All in the Mind? Does Neuroscience Challenge Faith? Lion, 2015. As the subtitle indicates, this volume is all about the new neurosciences, and the oft-made claim that the more we know about the brain, the less room we have for things like mind, consciousness, the soul, free will, faith, and God. Naturalistic scientists claim we are just neural machines. But other neuroscientists, such as Clarke, beg to differ, and show that the Christian faith is not necessarily incompatible with the new scientific findings.
Novak, Michael, and Paul Adams, Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is. Encounter Books, 2015. Michael Novak has been writing on the interface between religion and public policy for many decades now. The authors demonstrate what a slippery and nebulous concept ‘social justice’ is, and challenge the political and economic progressives as we try to understand it. While the volume especially addresses Catholic social teaching on the matter, it is a wide-ranging discussion of not only things like capitalism and socialism, but social goods like marriage and family.
Lints, Michael, Identity and Idolatry: The Image of God and Its Inversion. IVP, 2015. The image of God is a core biblical concept, and Lints shows that its conceptual inversion, idolatry, must be understood in its light. The theology professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston offers a tour through Scripture examining both ideas, and makes a good case for how a proper understanding of oneself and one’s core identity is so very much wrapped up in these two key biblical themes.
Poplin, Mary, Is Reality Secular? Testing the Assumptions of Four Global Worldviews. IVP, 2014. In this book the American professor of education examines the four leading worldviews competing for allegiance today: material naturalism, secular humanism, pantheism, and Judeo-Christian theism. Looking at political, social and cultural issues, she assesses the truth claims and logical outworkings of the various worldviews in some detail, and demonstrates that the Judeo-Christian worldview best corresponds with the real world, and best explains things like the human condition.
Spencer, Robert, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to ISIS. Regnery, 2015. Robert Spencer has penned quite a few excellent books on Islam over the years, and is certainly one of our leading experts on it, and the dangers it poses to the West. Here he devotes 350 pages to telling us everything we need to know about ISIS: its history, its aims, its activities and its obvious and undeniable connections with Islam. He examines how ISIS is alive and well in the West, and concludes with strategies on how to defeat it. While a number of new books are now out on ISIS, this is the one to have and to master.
Lister, J. Ryan, The Presence of God. Crossway, 2015. The presence of God is of course one of the major themes in Scripture, and permeates the biblical storyline. In nearly 400 pages the American theology professor looks in great detail at this vital concept, tracing it right through Scripture, from creation and fall, to redemption and new creation. A valuable study which is both academic as well as devotionally relevant.
Sandys, Jonathan and Wallace Henley, God & Churchill. Tyndale House, 2015. It is often assumed that the great Winston Churchill was basically a secular, non-religious character. Here a great grandson of Churchill (Sandys) and Christian columnist (Henley) make it clear, as the subtitle states, that he had an unmistakeable sense of divine destiny from a very early age, and this sense of purpose and mission sustained him and helped to keep the West free from tyranny – both from Hitler and Stalin. A fascinating volume looking at a neglected aspect of this fascinating man.
Storms, Sam, Kept by Jesus. Crossway, 2015. I fully realise that plenty of debate centre on the issues of assurance of salvation and doctrines such as eternal security. Christians are of course welcome to believe as they like on these matters, but I have found that far too often those who criticise a differing position on these matters know little about what that position actually states. While I have plenty of volumes from both camps on these matters, this is one of the newer and better popular level treatments of the position which says God is able to keep those who are truly his own. The American pastor has written on these topics before, and whether or not you agree fully with the case he makes, you at least should be familiar with the sorts of arguments he and others offer on this.
Boda, Mark, ‘Return to Me’: A Biblical Theology of Repentance. IVP, 2015. The core biblical theme of repentance is absolutely crucial to understanding all of Scripture, but far too often it is ignored or downplayed by believers today. This detailed 200-page study is therefore very important so that we can once again get a clear understanding of how repentance fits into the biblical storyline. And as Boda makes clear, repentance is not only the way we get right with God through Christ, but it is an essential part of the ongoing Christian life. It is not just a one-off act, but a way of life for the Christian.
Kilner, John, Dignity and Destiny. Eerdmans, 2015. John Kilner has been a leading light in Christian bioethics for many decades now. He has written extensively on bioethical issues and what it means to be human in a number of key volumes. Now he offers us what may be one of the most extensive and thorough discussions of the biblical notion of the image of God now available. It is of course theologically and biblically substantial, but it does not remain abstract, instead touching in practical ways on every sphere of life. The volume mentioned above by Lints offers us a more specialised study on the image of God, but this volume presents us with the big picture with loads of detail. A magisterial effort.
Edwards, James, The Gospel According to Luke. Eerdmans, 2015. The Pillar New Testament Commentary series is becoming one of the best evangelical/conservative series around, with 16 volumes now out. Edwards, who teaches theology in the United States, has already penned the Pillar volume on Mark back in 2002. This volume is an excellent treatment of Luke covering over 800 pages. Students and pastors alike will benefit greatly from the careful treatment of Luke’s gospel by Edwards. Well worth the price.
Until next time, happy reading.