Four recent books of applied theology
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Black & Reformed: Seeing God’s Sovereignty in the African-American Christian Experience
Anthony J. Carter
Carter argues that conservative Christians have failed to deal wisely with the “evils of racism and the detrimental effect of institutionalized discrimination.” He believes the black church needs Reformed theology in order to increase and maintain its theological purity and strength. At the same time, the Reformed church needs the African-American experience and perspective to sharpen its theology and experience the fullest riches of the Christian faith. No matter the relationship between you and the title, you’ll find Black & Reformed an excellent primer on one of the most pressing issues in American evangelicalism today.
Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines
Some books about spiritual disciplines advocate mysticism or introduce unbiblical practices. In contrast, David Mathis’ helpful, biblical, and practical guide prefers the term “means of grace.” He describes them as habits of grace in the lives of Christians and places them in categories: hearing God’s voice through Bible reading, having God’s ear through prayer, and belonging to His body through fellowship. If you’re like me—reading the Bible, praying daily, committed to my church—Habits of Grace will still challenge you to continue to grow in each of these ways.
The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, & Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters
Sinclair B. Ferguson
The Whole Christ begins more than 250 years ago with a theological controversy that erupted in a small Scottish town. The core issue was whether or not a person must first forsake his sins to come to Christ. Was forsaking sin the fruit of grace or the necessary precursor to it? That controversy has continuing relevance. Ferguson carefully discusses how we become Christians, how we live as Christians, and how we can have assurance that we are Christians. This book is a valuable contribution to the discussion about the role of the law—the role of obedience—in the Christian life.
The Forgotten Fear: Where have All the God-Fearers Gone?
Albert N. Martin
The fear of God was once a common subject among Christians. They knew how to define the fear of God, and they knew how to examine their lives for its presence or absence. Today, though, we don’t often use the language of fear, which Albert Martin (following the Bible) defines in two ways: terror or dread, and awe or honor. Both of these are meant to apply to the relationship of humans to their Creator. Martin is convinced that many people are missing a key to understanding and honoring God: The Forgotten Fear is a wise and powerful treatment of this neglected subject.
Reading a book on prayer could set you up for success or failure in your spiritual life—depending on which book you read. Some books, like John Eldredge’s Moving Mountains: Praying with Passion, Confidence, and Authority (Thomas Nelson, 2016), seek to be novel and focus on making prayer “work,” instead of teaching how God in the Bible defines the purpose and practice of prayer.
Books that devote themselves to such essential questions include Paul Miller’s A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (NavPress, 2009) and Tim Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (Penguin, 2014). Miller’s focus: Biblical prayer is crucial for confident communion with God. Keller brings theological, doctrinal, and practical strength to his discussion. Such books devote themselves to the most important Book of all—and its all-glorious Author. —T.C.
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