recent popular theology books reviewed
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Deepak Reju, pastor of biblical counseling at Capitol Hill Baptist Church and a father to five young children, understands the importance of protecting children from abuse. In On Guard, he provides a comprehensive approach to preventing and responding to child abuse at church. He describes the way pedophiles operate and offers practical guidance for creating and implementing a child protection policy, screening staff members, and responding when someone makes an abuse allegation or when a known child abuser professes faith and asks to come into church membership. It is a book that every parent and church leader should consider reading.
Look and Live
Not all musicians can write books, but Papa succeeds in this debut. His goal is “to help you overcome idolatry and certain sadness by pointing you to the all-satisfying, sin-destroying glory of Jesus.” He draws from the wells of church history and the best of today’s writers to reflect on how the glory of God is displayed in creation, mission, obedience, suffering, and, especially, the cross of Christ. Chapter 4, “The Blazing Center,” may be one of the best chapters of any book I’ve read in the past year or two.
Keller critiques most books on prayer as being “primarily theological or devotional or practical, but seldom do they combine the theological, experiential, and methodological all under one cover.” He helpfully combines all three elements, drawing heavily on the collective wisdom of towering figures such as Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. Although there is not much new here, that’s a strength not a weakness. Keller understands that any new insights on prayer tend to go farther from rather than closer to biblical truth. Books on prayer abound, but few, if any, are better than this one.
Purity Is Possible
In our increasingly sexualized culture, we often think of pornography as a male problem—but many women struggle as well, and often find it harder to admit the struggle. Thorne addresses fantasy, erotica, and pornography from a female perspective. She is transparent (but not vulgar) in describing her own struggles with lust and in sharing how she has gained increased victory over it. By addressing the heart and not merely outward behavior, Thorne coaches readers to uncover the deeper sin problems giving rise to lust. Her friendly and conversational tone invites readers to join her arm-in-arm as they pursue purity together.
On Feb. 2, the American Library Association announced that it had awarded the 2015 Newbery Medal to the novel The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2014). The ALA praised how its narrator “uses the rhythms of a poetry jam to emulate the ‘moving & grooving/popping and rocking’ of life on the basketball court with his twin brother, J.B.”
WORLD shares the ALA’s enthusiasm for the book, which last August was a runner-up for our Children’s Book of the Year. Janie Cheaney wrote (Aug. 9, 2014), “The Bell family’s passion for basketball is surpassed only by their love for each other, but conflicts abound on and off the court. This exuberant verse novel is an ode to filial exasperation, smooth moves, and love stronger than death.” —Susan Olasky