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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: Hipster Christianity by Brett McCracken

The collision of cool and Christianity. Most would not think there would be enough material there to fill a book. Or that said material could be intelligent, humorous, and thought-provoking.

Brett McCracken has proven most of us wrong with Hipster Christianity. Brett does an excellent job of taking what could easily be a wholly tongue-in-cheek topic and turning it into something theologically deep and challenging. While he seems to spend more time forming and asking questions than answering them, the questions he does ask are important ones. Consider:
Perhaps there is a third option—a much more insidious, countercultural idea: perhaps Christianity is hopelessly unhip, maybe even the anticool. What if it turns out that Christianity's endurance comes from the fact that it is, has been, and continues to be the antithesis and antidote to the intoxicating and exhausting drive in our human nature for cool?
This is not to say that the book is simply cold and academic. The research-paper-on-steroids feel is broken up by occasional humorous lists like: "Favorite Hipster TV Shows", "Reasons Why Calvinism is Hipster-Friendly", and the uncomfortably close to home "CCM Albums of the Nineties That Make Christian Hipsters Nostalgic". Brett treads the fine line in addressing a serious issue within Christianity with care, insight, and healthy dose of irony and wit. This is certainly something quite difficult to pull off and the fact that Brett does so with such seeming ease is a true testament to—dare I say it?—how cool he is. (See what I did there? Emphasized the point with a negative example.)

If you're not yet convinced, you can read a free chapter here.

If you're concerned, you can take the "Are You a Christian Hipster?" quiz here.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Anyone interested in the pulse of Christianity, the dynamic of being "in but not of the world"

This book was a free review copy provided by Baker Books.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: Long Story Short by Marty Machowski

The phrase "gospel-centered" is an easy label to tag on a book these days to sell a couple extra copies. Long Story Short, however, is the last book that could be accused of such a move.

This book, from beginning to end, is about Jesus in the Old Testament and it's perhaps the coolest family devotional I've even seen (or been subjected to). The layout is attractive and the structure is simple.

Every week presents an Old Testament passage, studies it, and then connects it to Jesus. As the author himself says, "Long Story Short connects each story to God's larger redemptive plan. Every lesson answers the question, 'Where is Jesus in this lesson?'"

Machowski spends an entire 1/3 of the book on studies from Genesis, so don't expect every inch of the Old Testament to be covered. However, this book has 78 weeks (or a year and a half) worth of material in it, so nobody's getting short-changed here. The simplicity with which these studies go back and forth between Christ and the Old Testament should impress parents without confusing kids. This is not always an easy thing to do, but Marty pulls it off!

Now my only question is: how young is too young to start going through this with my daughter?

Westminster Bookstore currently has the best price I can find online for Long Story Short, $13.39.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Families

This book was a free review copy provided by New Growth Press.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book Review: Jesus in the Present Tense by Warren Wiersbe

It is seldom that a book's cover grabs me so firmly that I am compelled to read it, whether I know anything of the author and content or not. This was the case with Jesus in the Present Tense by Warren Wiersbe. The book covers all of the "I am" statements of Jesus in the Bible, including a couple most people would probably forget to include.

Warren opens with "Moses Asks a Question" (of course, the answer to that question is "I AM") and ends with "I Am Jesus", the self-revelation that took place during the confrontation of Saul on his way to Damascus. In between we find all of the expected ones: the bread of life, the light of the world, the door, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth, and the life, and the true vine.


I have to admit, I thought the premise for the book was inspired. While the cover art work piqued my interest, the direction of the book was compelling.

Warren Wiersbe demonstrates a wonderful grasp of the Old Testament and it's foreshadowing of—and later fulfillment in—Jesus. There were times when Warren reminded me a bit of Tim Keller in this respect.


My main critique is one of structure. Unfortunately, the book felt a little like a devotional to me. The chapters were lacking a flow one to the other, and even thoughts within the chapters seemed to be lacking a sense of direction.

There were also times when the author lost me in stretching an analogy just a little too far (the thin flakes of manna like frost on the ground= "white" speaks of purity and "small" speaks of humility, both which describe Jesus).

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Anyone interested in a devotional study on the "I am" statements of Jesus

This book was a free review copy provided by David C. Cook.