Here are a few books that I have recently read and want to quickly review.
Surviving Sexual Brokenness: What Grace Can Do by Thom Hunter
Thom is a fellow contributor to SBC Voices. Awhile back Thom gave me his book in exchange for a review. Unfortunately, it was one of the 8-10 books that sat in a pile for a lengthy time during a busy seminary semester. I did not get a chance to pick the book back up until a few weeks ago.
As self-described on the back of the book, Thom is a “Christian married father of five who fought, fell and rose again to fight against unwanted same-sex attraction”. This book, then, comes from one that is not distanced from the battle—Thom is in the middle of it. This book is filled with 33 short chapters that feel like blog entries. They are helpful not only for those that would describe themselves as sexually broken but for any of us that are sinners living on this side of full redemption. For this Thom’s book is immensely helpful.
If I had one critique it would be that the book felt a little scattered. It may have been more helpful given the content for Thom to have told his story chronologically and used these blog entries as a supplement to the thread of his own life story. But that really is not a critique that would cause me to not recommend this book. I think it is very helpful for any struggler.
Begin (Compiled and Edited by Ken Ham & Bodie Hodge)
Begin is “a journey through the Scriptures for seekers and new believers”. Within it’s pages is the complete ESV text of Genesis 1-11, the Gospel of John, Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and Revelation 21-22. Smattered throughout the contents are little comments and cross-references to help the seeker/new-believer understand Scripture better. Also helpful are the lines to the side of the book for brief note-taking or further questions. At the end of the book the reader will find a short article that seeks to answer “What Does it Mean to Be Saved” as well as a 10 point list and explanation of the “10 Basics to Boldly Proclaim a Biblical Worldview”.
For full disclosure I must say that I am a young-earth creationist with sympathies for those believers that believe in an old-earth. I do not think you have necessarily sold out the Christian faith just because you think the world may be older than 6,000 years. In fact I could probably be convinced of that position somewhat easily. Having said that I found it rather unhelpful that this book seems to major on young-earth creationism.
Consider the 10 things for a biblical worldview; number 10 is the gospel and number 2 is radiometric dating. Even if this list is not in order of importance I find it rather silly that radiometric dating would be in the top 10 basics for a biblical worldview. Yes, I understand that the biblical view of creation is under attack. But is it really necessary to believe in a young-earth to be a believer? Is that really and integral part of the gospel once and for all delivered to the saints? Yet, many of the comments seem bent on proving this particular position. For this reason I find it very unhelpful for new believers or seekers.
I appreciate that in many places they encourage the reader to seek out a local church. That is wonderful. Their explanation of the gospel is also pretty solid. But it seems to be so infused with this young-earth agenda that is muddies the Scriptures and makes the point of the Bible something other than what it is. “Christians who stand confidently on the Bible’s historical record have the answer to life’s troubles” is not the gospel and it is not what the point of the Bible is about. The Bible isn’t to prove that God is the creator of a young-earth. I agree that the “ultimate goal of ministry is not simply winning debates but proclaiming the gospel”. I further agree that the scientific data etc. are “secondary in importance to the proclamation of the gospel” but what you have in this book appears to be a blurring of those lines.
If Walls Could Talk by Lisa Worsley
As it says in the press release, “Lucy Worsley is, by day, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that looks after The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace State Apartments, the Banqueting House in Whitehall, and Kew Palace in Kew Gardens.” As such this makes Worsley someone “in the know” when it comes to the history of these homes. That is why this particular work is so interesting. You will not find footnotes but just secondary sources, making this a unique look into the history within the walls of England’s royal palaces.
I read this book as one that is very interested in the history of England. I intend to write a book on John Newton and any bits of historical information I can find help me to get a feel for what it would have been like to live in Newton’s day. This book delivered what I was looking for. It is written in a fun and engaging way.
One note of caution, though, for the Christian audience is that this book deals rather vividly with some private topics that are perhaps unbecoming. There is an entire chapter dedicated to “masturbation”. Many of my Christian readers would be turned off by some of the contents of the book. I was able to read through that and found some very helpful and entertaining material within. It’s not particularly crass in it’s dealing with sensitive topics just rather matter of fact.