Four popular and readable theology books
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Missing Jesus begins with the acknowledgment that at certain times we all feel as if we’re missing something. We have put our faith in Christ and we are following Him, but something still seems to be missing. There are a thousand answers to this more, and most of the Christian books pouring off the printing presses claim to have the solution. Charles and Janet Morris look past easy and novel answers and point instead to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we’re missing anything, we have probably lost sight of the Savior. In this book they offer glimpses of the gospel from many different angles, each one more powerful than the last. If you need encouragement, you’ll find it here.
Sex and Violence in the Bible
The Bible assures us that all Scripture has been breathed out by God and, for that reason, is profitable to us. This includes the parts of Scripture that we may prefer to skip over. In Sex and Violence in the Bible, Joseph Smith collects and analyzes the Bible’s many descriptions of sex and violence, which makes for a reading experience both awful and fascinating. We live in a world marred by human sin and depravity, by sexual sin, violence, and even sexual violence. Scripture has descriptions of all of these, and in some way each record has been given for our benefit, to equip us for real life in the real world. We overlook or ignore them at our own peril.
Society gets beauty all wrong. Sadly, so too do many Christians. We tend to worship the beautiful and ignore or even revile the plain. We make beauty a cultural god. In True Beauty, mother-daughter team Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre look beyond society’s perceptions and misperceptions of beauty and turn instead to Scripture for God’s wisdom on the subject. As we would expect, His perspective is infinitely better. This short book will prove valuable reading for any woman, and perhaps especially any young woman. She will find simple, clear, practical teaching on the nature of beauty, the sheer goodness of beauty, and the God who exemplifies all that is beautiful.
Taking God at His Word
One of Kevin DeYoung’s strengths as an author is taking complicated theology and bringing it down to a popular level. Taking God at His Word is a book about what the Bible says about the Bible, geared for the general reader. In just 144 pages DeYoung celebrates the Bible as God’s revelation of Himself. He encourages readers to acknowledge that God’s Word is knowable, necessary, and enough. He deals briefly but powerfully with the Bible’s sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity. In short, he provides a basic theology of Scripture. DeYoung says, “My aim is to be simple, uncluttered, straightforward, and manifestly biblical.” He succeeds well.
Every Christian should be familiar with the poems of George Herbert, who was acquainted with suffering and hoped his poetry “may turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul.” In Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert (University of Chicago Press, 2014), John Drury sketches Herbert’s life and explores the art and meaning of his poetry. The book’s strength lies in Drury’s ability to explain Herbert’s theology and draw out the Christian meaning in the poems, showing how the structure—rhyme schemes, meter, and form—partner with the words to build meaning. Although the poems were not published until after Herbert’s death—at his request—they became immediately popular before falling into disfavor. The book is academic enough for scholars but easily accessible to the lay reader with a bit of patience. —Susan Olasky