Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Review: "The Radical Question & A Radical Idea" by David Platt

"The Radical Question & A Radical Idea" by David Platt is a two-in-one book combination. The first book, "The Radical Question" appears to be a summary of some key concepts from his original book "Radical". The second book, "A Radical Idea", appears to follow the same vein and sum up key points from the book "Radical Together".

"The Radical Question" asks readers to consider what Jesus is worth to us. He challenges us to live differently, to pursue a true Christianity instead of simply a Christian spin on the American dream. As he talks about how underground house churches often risk everything, including their very lives, for the chance to gather together and worship Christ, he ponders "I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we in America have lost touch with what is essential, radical--even dangerous--about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable" (p. 8). Having read the original book, "Radical" about a year and a half ago, I found this section to be a great reminder and summary of the challenges and questions from the original.

"A Radical Idea" addresses the question of "How can we in the church best unleash the people of God in the Spirit of God with the Word of God for the Glory of God in the world?" (p. 63). Platt looks at how the church can stand together, united to live for a radical purpose of living out a more biblical gospel. He questions our American desire to build big buildings and have top-notch programs instead of prioritizing getting the gospel to people who desperately need it and channeling greater amounts of funding toward things with a more far-reaching, eternal impact. He discusses the need to invest more in the people of the church, thereby creating disciples, instead of investing more in programs.

Overall, the message of both books is a great one. He has a great message that the American church desperately needs to hear and ultimately begin to live out on a much greater scale. This little book would be a great one for someone who hasn't yet read either "Radical" or "Radical Together". But it does seem a bit overkill to put out two short little summaries instead of encouraging people to read the longer volumes that are packed with far more substance. Content-wise, the book is fantastic. But for me personally, I'm going to stick with the original books and skip these little summaries.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Waterbrook-Multnomah through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Review: "Red Letter Revolution" by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo

"Red Letter Revolution:  What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?" by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo is written as a dialogue between the two authors. They introduce it as a "new movement" of believers who attempt to take seriously the words of Christ and commit to living them out in daily life. Overall, they tackle twenty-six different topics, including hell, Islam, family, racism, homosexuality, immigration, politics, war, national debt, and missions, divided into three separate sections.

There are some good points in the book. Both authors call the church out on handling finances--do we have a balance between what we use for ourselves and what we give away to take care of those in need (both within and without our church)? Both authors call us back to being good stewards of creation, a hearkening back to God's call to Adam in Genesis 1. 

But overall, the book had far more troubling aspects than good ones. I found it to be pretty reductionist and incomplete. For example, evangelism has been reduced to "recruiting agents for God's work in this world" (p. 51). Missions is reduced to simply helping the poor. There is no sense for the real true Gospel in this book. By placing so much emphasis on helping the poor, with that being the end goal of evangelism and missions, you have developed a works-based theology with no discussion of grace. The only aspect of God's character that is ever talked about is love; anger is covered, but really only in regard to the religious people (a barely covered jab at evangelicals).

To me, this book is a piece of liberal propaganda that panders to those who want a Christianity that conforms to the secular culture. It is a call to activism--but an activism that emphasizes works instead of grace, meeting practical needs instead of the true message of the Gospel. Many things in the book may sound good upon first reading them, but as you begin to ponder it, you begin to see the holes in their arguments, especially in light of what the entire Bible says. Could we all stand to take more seriously the words of Christ? Yes. But we enter dangerous territory when we pick and choose only portions of Scripture to take seriously, as these authors are apt to encourage.

This is not a book I can in good conscience recommend to anyone. It's light on theology and heavy on social justice with a few carefully chosen Scriptures thrown in for good measure. I think I'll stick with my Bible--the entire Bible--and a few more doctrinally sound authors.

(I’ve received this complimentary book through the BookLook program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Review: "What About Heaven" by Kathleen Long Bostrom

"What About Heaven" by Kathleen Long Bostrom is a fantastic little book meant to help children begin to understand the amazing promise of heaven. The illustrations in the book are done by Elena Kucharik, the artist for the Care Bears. Her illustrations are whimsical, bright, and colorful.

The book begins with a series of questions about what heaven is like: Is heaven a place that is near or that's far? Can I have a room only for me? What food will I eat? And what clothes will I wear? The second half of the book transitions to answers to those questions. At the top of each page in the second half are the Scripture references referenced on that page. It's a wonderfully, biblically sound book that can be appreciated by people of all ages. The rhyming text, combined with the wonderful illustrations, are sure to make this book a hit with kids.

Both of my preschool age boys enjoyed this book. It's a wonderful little book that will get a lot of mileage in our reading repertoire!

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

A Review: "The Lifegiving Parent" by Clay and Sally Clarkson

"The Lifegiving Parent" by Clay and Sally Clarkson completes the "Lifegiving" trilogy that also includes "The Lifeg...