Four accessible theology reviews
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Brave by Faith by Alistair Begg
Begg offers a series of reflections on the Old Testament book of Daniel to help Christians think about honoring God in an increasingly hostile world. But he begins with a disclaimer: “No, this book will not tell you to be like Daniel. Instead, it will call you to believe in Daniel’s God.” He explains: “We will be able to navigate our present moment to the extent that we realize that the God of the exiles in the sixth century BC has not changed in the intervening two and a half millennia.” Begg offers specific ways to think about both drawing lines and engaging culture, and he urges hope. “Don’t look back to the ‘glory days,’” he writes. “Live well in this day.”
Practicing Thankfulness by Sam Crabtree
When it comes to cultivating Christian maturity, we might think of all sorts of important virtues: wisdom, perseverance, faithfulness. But author Sam Crabtree suggests there’s one quality that’s especially pivotal: thankfulness. “The very dividing line between glory and dishonor is whether a person gives thanks or not,” he writes. “Idolatry itself springs from thanklessness toward our Creator.” Crabtree explores the Bible’s teaching on gratitude, and he highlights why Christians should thank God in all situations, including hardships: “In this very moment he is using your current set of circumstances as one link in the unbreakable chain of links forged by his unrelenting love and infinite wisdom to accomplish for you the unspeakably valuable privilege of being conformed to the image of his Son.”
Taming the Tongue by Jeff Robinson
For Christians who squirm a little when absorbing the Bible’s teaching about how we use our tongues, Robinson’s book won’t let us off the hook. “Is your heart full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control?” he asks. “The words that come from your mouth answer that question with brutal honesty.” Ouch. The scalpel Robinson uses to show what our speech reveals about us is a helpful tool to lance the wounds we inflict on ourselves and others. But Robinson doesn’t leave us without hope: Growing in contentment and genuine love for God and others changes the tenor and aim of our words. We learn to serve others in our conversations, and also to ask, Are my words leading toward life or death?
Be Thou My Vision by Jonathan Gibson
During the first months of the pandemic, Gibson reevaluated his devotional life. He craved more structure and found he benefited from including elements found in a worship service: adoration, confession, Scripture, prayer, and reading historic Christian creeds and catechisms. He used his selections to construct a 31-day liturgical guide for daily worship. Each day follows the same order, with Scripture readings, ancient prayers, creeds, and confessions. Readers might decide to use the guide daily, weekly, or perhaps in family settings. But even occasional use offers encouraging exposure to ancient prayers with current resonance: “Write your blessed name, O Lord, upon my heart, there to remain so indelibly engraved, that no prosperity, no adversity shall ever move me from your love.”
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