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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
Looking for a church in the Omaha area? Come check out ours on Sunday mornings at 11!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review: Existential Reasons for Belief in God by Clifford Williams

If you ever wanted to impress people simply by the title of the book you're carrying around, I don't think you could do much better than Existential Reasons for Belief in God by Clifford Williams. However, that same intimidating title makes your job harder if you want to encourage people to read it. (For the record, I do want to do the latter and don't want to do the former.)

I am always game for new takes and approaches to Christian apologetics, and this one certainly fits the bill. While most such books build arguments around sheer fact and reason, Williams argues that there is also good reason (no pun intended) to defend the Christian worldview on a basis of need and emotion.

He points out that some people approach religion and faith in God emphasizing reason (rationalists) while others do so emphasizing emotion and need (emotionalists). Williams argues that rather than an "either/or" approach, we should take a "both/and" approach. Even on it's face this argument makes sense because apologetic arguments based on sheer airtight reason are of no use if the subject does not care about the information or sees no need to believe or accept those arguments. As Williams says,
"My aim is to defend the legitimacy of acquiring faith through need, emotion and reason. Satisfaction of need legitimately draws us to faith, but reason must be involved in this drawing. More simply, the two basic ideas of the book are the drawing power of need and the certifying ability of reason. Need without reason is blind, but reason without need is sterile."
I find it just a little ironic that he makes his argument throughout the book on the basis of rationality, but then again, his reasons would have no power if they did not awaken a desire to respond to such reason. Williams makes his argument in the first couple chapters and then spends four chapters (the majority of the book) addressing four different objections to his premise. The book does threaten at times to turn into an academic paper, but Williams injects personal testimonies of faith throughout the book that effectively breaks that up (and supports his points).

In the end, Williams presents a fresh approach to apologetics that is both helpful and encouraging for those intimidated by a field long dominated by the many intellectual, complicated, and often nuanced arguments for and against the existence of God.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Christian apologists, theologians, and counselors

This book was a free review copy provided by InterVarsity Press.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Review: For the City by Patrick & Carter

"If your church closed its doors tomorrow, would your city even know it was gone?"

Church planting and community transformation are both hot topics in Christian print right now. For the City by Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter lies at the intersection of those two topics. However, the book grows out of the blood, sweat, and passion of two churches and pastors and is anything but opportunistic. Indeed it is a passionate plea to the body of Christ to live lives changed by the gospel that engage the city around them.

The book opens with three chapters (Part 1: A Tale of Two Cities) detailing the infancy of the two churches in Austin, TX and St. Louis, MO. While these chapters are light on practical application, it serves to emphasize the importance of knowing your city if you are to reach your city.

The remainder of the book (Part 2: In and For the City) lays out some of the central components to a church that will reach its city: contextualization, community, service, equipping, and suffering. These characteristics are fleshed out by personal accounts from the two churches—to mixed results. While some of the stories help give "handles" to these ideas, some of the other stories consume almost the entire chapter and leave very little space for further instruction. However, the book truly hits stride in the last three chapters ("Suffering", "Confessions", and "Conclusion: Live Like Jonah") and gospel rightly takes front and center in these humble and hopeful pieces.

In the end, For the City is a solid book by two pastors who are passionate about the gospel and what the gospel can do for their cities—and for yours.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Pastors, planters

This book was a free review copy provided by Zondervan.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Killer deal over at All Re:Lit books 50% off!

(Sorry for posting this twice, Blogger killed all my links.)

There's one heckuva deal going on over at the Westminster Bookstore that will last for just one week (Wednesday the 12th).

All Re:Lit books are 50% off, or you can get the entire set of 16 books for $127 (52% off).

I've already availed myself of this killer deal since I have not read all the Re:Lit books yet, but I would also like to recommend a couple of my favorites.

A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester has probably been my favorite and most surprising read of the year (surprising because it has been my favorite). Who knew a book about Jesus and food could be this good?!! You can get it for $7.49

Scandalous by D. A. Carson knocked me upside the head right when I thought I'd heard just about everything regarding Jesus and the cross. Short, painfully beautiful, and fresh. $7.99

Church Planter by Darrin Patrick was a solid read for me on the front end of my ministry at Redeemer Church. It covers the man (leadership qualifications), the message (the gospel), and the mission (the purpose of the church). $7.99

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: Reverberation by Jonathan Leeman

See details below on three copies being given away over at Moody Publishers blog (hurry, there's only a day left!).

Reverberation by Jonathan Leeman focuses on the power of the Word of God. Leeman says "It’s different from other books on Scripture in that (i) it’s tracing the process of how the Word creates the church and (ii) it’s fighting to help the reader grow in faith."

I genuinely enjoyed and benefited from this book as I felt a renewal in my love for and appreciation of the Word written (the Bible) the Word spoken (the sermon) and the Word practiced (the body of Christ). The book is broken up into just such sections, and they highlight and follow the movement of the Word:

Part 1: The Word
  • Invites and Divides
  • Acts
  • Frees
  • Gathers
Part 2: The Sermon
  • Exposes
  • Announces
  • Confronts
Part 3: The Reverberation
  • Sings
  • Prays
  • Disciples
  • Scatters and, Once Again, Invites
Leeman's style is straightforward and readable, his plea is passionate. As the church, we fall into countless temptations while we "do church" to do things under our own wisdom, our own power, our own strategies. Yet the Word of God is counter-intuitive to all of these, and these efforts can often (if not always) be counter-productive to true power of the Word. Leeman calls us all to fight this sort of drift that happens when one is not intentionally preaching and pursuing the Word of God.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Every Christian

And now the giveaway: Moody Publishers is giving away three copies over at their blog. Go check it out and good luck!

This book was a free review copy provided by Moody Publishers.