Great figures and great moments in history are often the subject of considerable (some might say endless) discussion and evaluation, especially by the communities which remember and celebrate their histories. For many Americans, this means looking back upon the Founding Fathers with reverence and respect. For many Christians, such an attitude entails studying the giants of the faith who have gone before us. Randy Petersen’s The Printer and the Preacher: Ben Franklin, George Whitfield, and the Surprising Friendship that Invented America (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015) examines both of these realms of America and American Christianity’s past. Continue reading
Few people have shaped contemporary Christianity more than Billy Graham. Though not as active, popular, or visible as he once was, Graham’s decades of evangelism, writing, and preaching continue to influence Christians around the world. Even in retirement, Graham continues to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. It was thus with eagerness that this reviewer engaged one of his latest books, The Reason for My Hope: Salvation (Thomas Nelson: 2013). Continue reading
Chances are that amidst your Black Friday shopping (or today’s Cyber Monday spending spree) you somewhere caught sight of camouflage. T-shirts, DVD collections, hats, beards, coats—you name it, there’s a probably a Duck Dynasty version of it somewhere. The Robertson family and their hit show on A&E have taken the country by storm the past several years, first with their classic country humor and traditional family values, and more recently with a number of interviews and new products. I was exposed to a few episodes of Duck Dynasty while at my in-laws last Christmas and have subsequently been following them in the news. A few weeks ago I learned of their latest item: The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible (Thomas Nelson, 2014). Continue reading
It’s that time of the semester again: presentations are being given, classes are wrapping up, and papers are due. The cumulative weight of the academic term is bearing down on students and teachers alike. And the holidays are coming, plans to see family are being made, and packages are beginning to arrive in the mail. I’ve recently received a number of packages in the mail, with gifts of a different sort–books to read and review.
In case you haven’t visited a bookstore of any kind lately or don’t just browse around Amazon for the fun of it (hey, grad students can dream, right?), let me offer you a tidbit of information: there are a LOT of Bibles available today—literally, tons of Bibles. There are different translations, various styles, made for diverse audiences, contrasting theologies at work—to say nothing of the plethora of languages in which the Bible is now available. In many ways, this dissemination of Bibles is good—people have more access to better translations and more applicable versions of the scriptures than at any other time in history. Yet the sheer smorgasbord of options is not without its problems, namely, which Bible should you read? Continue reading
In Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul (Thomas Nelson, 2013), Ralph K. Hawkins and Richard Leslie Parrott outline ten principles for leadership building from the life and failures of King Saul of Israel. Leadership Lessons uses the “worst practices” model of instruction, learning through the examination of the failures of others, much in the model of Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima’s classic Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership. Beginning with an explanation of why leaders should study Saul (he was quite the failed leader after all), Leadership Lessons contextualizes Saul and then traces his failures as king of Israel, from his lack of humility and isolation to his inaction and failure to make necessary changes. Especially important are chapters on Saul’s failure to love his people, his neglecting to think before he spoke, and inability to trust God as his true leader. Overall, Leadership Lessons provides leaders of all types an opportunity to profitably learn from the mistakes of Israel’s first king. Continue reading
In Heaven and Hell: Are They For Real? Christopher D. Hudson seeks to provide answers to some of the most common questions regarding the afterlife. Books engaging heaven and hell have been fairly common since Rob Bell’s Love Wins, and Hudson offers another work from the broadly evangelical camp by drawing upon scripture, personal experience, and the perspectives of popular scholars.
Heaven and Hell is divided into (unsurprisingly) two major sections: the first addressing questions on heaven and the second concerning itself with hell. In the heaven section, questions are considered dealing with the moments after death, what life in heaven looks like, what heaven looks like, who is in heaven, and the like. The section on hell deals with questions such as how real hell is, if going to hell is a choice, what hell looks like, the final judgment, and contemporary challenges to the belief of hell. Continue reading