Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: The Ragamuffin Bible: Meditations for the Bedraggled, Beat-up & Brokenhearted

Review:  The Ragamuffin Bible: Meditations for the Bedraggled, Beat-up & Brokenhearted

Brennan Manning.  If you have not had the opportunity to read any of his works the sidebars and devotional thoughts tucked into this NIV Bible will give you a taste of what he had to say.  Sadly, he died recently.  

The Ragamuffin Bible is a keeper for me.  This one I like.  The size, the type set, the feel is just right.  I will not comment on the Biblical text itself since I am no expert in that field.  I can say that I like the way it reads though.  This version in dual column, paragraph style with a few explanatory notes at the bottom of the page as needed. Of course, the chapter and verse markers are maintained. If you need to have cross references, concordances and the like, a study Bible might be more to your liking. This one is for reading and pondering.

If I have done my math right, there are about 500 different bits from Brennan Manning interspersed throughout the text.  Some are full page, others a sentence or two.  Each is pertinent to the text that surrounds it and so far each one I’ve read helped me to think a bit deeper than I might have otherwise about the Biblical text and me.

Not much about this version to not like.  The only thing for some might be the weight.  But for me it isn’t an issue.  So yes, I do recommend this version.  I received a hardbound and really like the artwork on the cover.  Fresh, clean, and colors that I like.  Now there’s a reason to buy a Bible!

I received this book from the publisher via BookSneeze in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future? by Mark Driscoll

Review: A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?
Mark Driscoll
Tyndale House Publishers

The title says it all.  The premise is do or die essentially.  Driscoll presents the current situation as he sees it, how it got that way, and what to do about it.  There’s a lot of good stuff in this book.  He likens the current religious climate to that of what the disciples faced back in their day.  Pluralism and a government that endeavors to protect all the different world views out there, as long as there’s no trouble.  He does not emphasize that religious freedom is one of the founding freedoms of this country, even if you don’t agree with any of them.   

Driscoll’s work does do something needful.  It calls to its readers to clarify their beliefs, their world view if you will.  Does it match the way the readers live or match what the readers say?  Does it line up with Scripture?  He also discusses points that he feels are not negotiable and some that divide believers, but are not as important.  Is he saying some major on the minors?  I think so.  His discussion of the different positions is insightful.  At least for me.  His synopsis of church history was nicely done too.  Short, but hit the most of the highpoints along the way.  Overall there is a much positive information in this book to mull over.

But----this book was spoiled (for me) by the style of Driscoll’s presentation.  It is as if he wanted it set in all caps with lots of exclamation points.  Happily the publisher controlled that part of it and showed amazing restraint in letting his style show through so clearly.   So, if you can get passed all the style there is reason to take this book seriously.  

Overall, I recommend this book with the above reservations.  

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Review: How to Talk to a Skeptic by Donald J. Johnson

Review: How to Talk to a Skeptic
Donald J. Johnson
Bethany House Publishers

Finally!  Someone has finally said it---you have to know what you are talking about to speak intelligently to skeptics (and anyone else) about God, Jesus, Christianity and all the topics that surround that.   People are looking for real answers to questions.  Many of them anyway.  That means any Christian that wants to join the conversation has to have worked through what and why he holds the beliefs he does.  The Christian that wants to join the conversation must be aware of the world around them.  

What Johnson has done to give his readers an example of how that is done.  From his own admissions, it’s not an easy task.  In a first step his advice is not to be baited into an argument.  It is to be a conversation.  Start with some information as to where the skeptic is “coming from” or discover how his vision of how things are affect him.  Start where they are.  Many questions are legitimate, concerns valid, observations true.  Plan on spending some time working on this.   Be alert for a common point of reference, a point on which both of parties can agree.  Definitions of terms is a must.  Help them understand and discover things for themselves.  

Johnson works his way through most of the typical objections and charges that currently exist in the world of the skeptic, agnostic, or atheist. He identifies the holes in their arguments and logic.  He does the same for some common Christian positions too.  Along the way he suggests further reading that he found helpful in his learning process.  Remember he said it wasn’t easy.

This book should be helpful for nearly any one looking to improve his skills.  But, I think the most important thing this book has to offer is the challenge to the Christian community to look at what it is to be Christian.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for review.