The Month in Reviews: March 2018

biblical leadership

I began this month with three reviews of books exploring the intersection of faith and science, all making the point in different ways that science and faith needn’t be in conflict. A couple other books explored evangelical missions, one considering the impact of missions upon American evangelicalism, and the other the factors driving the global expansion of Christianity.  Two of my books this month were on leadership, one a fine collection of articles on the biblical theology of leadership, the other exploring leadership in a time of change. In the area of history, I explored the history of higher education in the United States and the rise of the People’s Republic of China under Mao. You will also find my take on Colson Whitehead’s bestselling The Underground Railroad and a marvelous little mystery, set in a bookshop, a bibliophile’s dream. Rounding out this month’s collection are reviews of a collection of narratives from Rust Belt natives, and a diverse collection of stories of those who came to a faith in Christ they never expected possible.

Evolution and Holiness

Evolution and HolinessMatthew Nelson Hill (Foreword by Darrel R. Falk). Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2016. Evolutionary sociobiology proposes a genetic basis both for selfishness and altruism yet does not provide a sufficient warrant for altruism. The author proposes ways that Wesleyan theology and practice of holiness both intersects with scientific theory and offers a capacity for human goodness that goes beyond genetic dispositions. (Review)

The Kingdom of God Has No Borders

The Kingdom of God Has No BordersMelani McAlister. New York: Oxford University Press, (forthcoming, August 1) 2018. An exploration of the international dimension of American evangelicalism, focusing particularly on Africa and the Middle East, the impact this American movement has had globally, and in turn ways global evangelicalism is engaging American evangelicalism. (Review)

The Galileo Connection

The Galileo ConnectionCharles E. Hummel. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1986. A study of past and present “conflicts” between science and the Bible, that proposes that the reality of these conflicts were actually more complex, that Galileo and others were sincere Christians, and that it is possible both to pursue rigorous science and believe the Bible. (Review)


Mere Science and Christian FaithGreg Cootsona. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2018. Many emerging adults think that science and faith should complement each other and are put off by church contexts that force a choice between faith and science. The book contends that it is possible to bring science and faith into fruitful conversation, and provides examples of how this is possible. (Review)

American Academic Cultures

American Academic CulturesPaul H. Mattingly. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. Traces the history and development of higher education in the United States as a succession of seven “generational cultures,” using examples of prominent institutions representing the emergence of each culture. (Review)

The Haunted Bookshop

The Haunted BookshopChristopher Morley. New York: Mysterious Press/Open Road Media, 2015 (first published 1919). A mystery in a bookshop, involving a book that keeps disappearing, a wealthy businessman’s daughter, a young advertising salesman, a gregarious bookseller, and a German pharmacist. (Review)

Faith Unexpected

Faith Unexpected, Rick Mattson. St. Paul, MN: Pavement Publishing, 2018. The stories of ten people from diverse backgrounds who never expected to find faith in Christ and how they found the unexpected. (Review)

The Underground Railroad

The Underground RailroadColson Whitehead. New York: Doubleday, 2016. A fictional narrative of a Georgia slave, Cora, who with another slave escapes the plantation, and through a series of harrowing experiences, and the existence of an actual underground railroad with trains and engineers, escapes to the North. (Review)

biblical leadership

Biblical Leadership: Theology for the Everyday LeaderBenjamin K. Forest and Chet Roden, eds. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2017. An effort, book by book, to compile the a biblical theology of leadership, written by a team of scholars specializing in study of these texts. (Review)

From Jerusalem to Timbuktu

From Jerusalem to TimbuktuBrian C. Stiller. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2018. A book that surveys the global explosion of Christianity, identifying five drivers of growth and five other factors that weave through these drivers. (Review)

Voices from the Rust Belt

Voices from the Rust BeltAnne Trubek ed. New York: Picador, (forthcoming April 3) 2018.  A collection of essays from those living, or who have lived, in Rust Belt cities from Buffalo to Chicago, and Flint, Michigan to Moundsville, West Virginia. (Review)

Canoeing the Mountains

Canoeing the MountainsTod Bolsinger. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press – Praxis, 2015. Using the story of Lewis and Clark, Bolsinger explores the kind of leadership needed in the uncharted territory of our rapidly changing cultural landscape. (Review)

A Force so Swift

A Force So SwiftKevin Peraino. New York: Crown, 2017. A study of how the Truman adminstration, under Secretary of State Dean Acheson, framed America’s response to the rise of Mao as the Nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-shek fell to Communist forces in 1949. (Review)

Best book of the month: This month, I have to give the nod to Biblical Leadership: Theology for the Everyday Leader. I thought this to be a fine collection of essays that looked to scripture for what we might learn about leadership rather than American management practice. Each of the contributors is a specialist on the book or portion of scripture on which they write. I found marvelous material to personally apply as well as that could be used in teaching and preaching. Here, for example, is Edwin Yamauchi’s main points from his article on Nehemiah, that I thought could serve as a great teaching outline:

  1. A man of responsibility
  2. A man of prayer
  3. A man who was rightly motivated (by God’s glory)
  4. A man of vision
  5. A man of action and cooperation
  6. A man of compassion
  7. A man who triumphed over opposition

Best Quote of the Month: You’ve probably picked up that I think brick and mortar bookstores are both wonderful and necessary places in any town of some size, and worth our trade. Browsing online sites is just not the same, in my opinion. I found this wonderful quote in Christopher Morley’s The Haunted Bookshop that makes a similar point:

“You see what I’m driving at. I want to give people an entirely new idea about bookshops. The grain of glory that I hope will cure both my fever and my lethargicness is my conception of the bookstore as a power-house, a radiating place for truth and beauty. I insist books are not absolutely dead things: they are as lively as those fabulous dragons’ teeth, and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men.”

I like the idea of a “bookstore as a power-house, a radiating place for truth and beauty.” I happen to think that this is also a good description of what ought to be taking place in our churches (some of which include bookstores!). I’m convinced that living a life characterized by goodness, truth, and beauty can never be a solitary pursuit, but only one pursued in a community of friends, some with us in flesh and blood, and others through their writing. I hope you find encouragement from both this month!



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