New Books of Note

June 2, 2015 — 1 Comment


Like most people last Monday, I got sunburned near a large body of water. While I was doing that, I read Scot McKnight’s latest book, A Fellowship of Differents. It is essentially a book about the Christian life in community based heavily on the writings of Paul. The six parts of the book trace the Christian life, beginning with Grace, and on to Love and Table, Holiness, Newness, and finally Flourishing. These themes encompass what the Christian life in Christ in community ought to look like. Along the way, McKnight is answering the question, “what is the church supposed to be?” in tandem with “if the church is what it is supposed to be, what does the Christian life look like?”

I didn’t intend to polish off the book at the beach, but McKnight’s conversational and at times colloquial writing drew me in. I was particularly struck by the way he unpacked love in the second part of the book. In the chapter, “Love is a Series of Prepositions,” McKnight sees love as a rugged commitment to be with, for, and unto a particular person or group of persons. In his understanding the order of these matters, and I would agree. I also thought this was a particularly triperspectival way of understanding love. Beginning with the existential, you present with the person. Situationally, you advocate for them in the circumstances of life. Normatively, there is a purpose or an “unto” that you love is directed toward. All three elements do in some sense overlap when in their fullest expression, and love can be distorted if one aspect is narrowly applied to the exclusion of the others. Thinking through this was helpful for me in both teaching and ministry in the local church and I would hope other readers would find it similarly beneficial.

Scot McKnight, A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God’s Design for Life TogetherGrand Rapids: Zondervan, February 2015. 272 pp. Hardcover, $19.99.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Visit the publisher’s page (offers excerpt)

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy!


Ever since I went to seminary, I’ve reflected from time to time on how the whole experience could be improved. This is apparently not unusual, especially if you’re involved in Christian education post graduation. You may or may not be aware, but the current American model for many major seminaries is not reflective what pastoral training has always looked like. One particular model worth highlighting is Bonhoeffer’s, and that is exactly what Paul House has done in Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision.

House is a professor at Beeson Divinity School, which I had the pleasure of visiting last spring for regional ETS. Beeson is an intentionally small school and mentorship is more integrated into the seminary experience there for M.Div students. Given that, House finds many resonances between Beeson and Bonhoeffer when it comes to seminary education. The first two chapters outline Bonhoeffer’s background and formation of seminaries. Then, chapters three and four give extended and thorough exposition of The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together respectively. Chapter five traces the end of Bonhoeffer’s seminaries and the final chapter offers insights and possibilities for incarnational seminaries today.

This would be a useful book to read if you are about to attend seminary, currently attending, or are involved in Christian education. More casual readers could read the conclusions in chapters three and four, as well as six in total and get plenty of food for thought when it comes to pastoral training. Many will probably want to see the ideas fleshed out within Bonhoeffer’s writings and House does an excellent job of providing just that. In the end, seminaries should offer pastoral training that involves life on life and emphasizes the costliness of not just discipleship but ministry in the fallen world. Bonhoeffer got it, and hopefully many seminaries today will continue to get it.

Paul R. House, Bonhoeffer’s Seminary Vision: A Case for Costly Discipleship and Life TogetherWheaton: Crossway, April 2015. 208 pp. Paperback, $17.99.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Read an excerpt

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Crossway for the review copy!


I haven’t done much apologetic reading lately, but I’ve wanted to return to it over the summer. A step in the direction came a couple of weeks back when I worked through C. Stephen Evans’ Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense. This entry in the Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology makes a case that natural theology provides a good defeater for the new atheist claim that belief in God is simply unreasonable. Given the book’s foundation in a set of lectures, the tone is conversational and concise, though not without philosophical weight at times.

The opening chapter briefly outlines the new atheist’s claims, while chapter two introduces and argues for the value of natural theology as a response. Chapter three details the concept of a natural sign for God and chapter four relates this concept to the existing theistic arguments. Chapter five deals the objection that might arise questioning the trustworthiness of these natural signs before the conversation turns to God’s self revelation in chapter six. Chapter seven offers criteria for determining the genuineness of such revelation before Evans concludes the book with a summarizing chapter.

Coming from a more Van Tillian background, I’m not typically the biggest fan of natural theology arguments. I’m opening to re-evaluation and planning to do so in my future reading. I thought Evans’ book provide a good place for natural theology in the apologist’s toolbox. Making use of it to defeat the bare claim of theistic belief’s unreasonableness seems useful. While it might not work as the foundation for an entire apologetic for Christianity, it does have a role to serve. That being said, I’m still mulling over integrating some of Evans’ insights into my own thinking on the matter, and probably have more work to do. For that, I’ll have to keep you posted.

C. Stephen Evans, Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense: A Response to Contemporary ChallengesGrand Rapids: Baker Academic, May 2015. 160 pp. Paperback, $19.99.

Buy itAmazon

Read an excerpt

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Baker Academic for the review copy!


When I initially requested this book from Banner of Truth Trust I thought it was simply a collection of essays in which the contributors recommended a book that was life changing and/or influential to them personally. It is certainly that, but with a twist. As the trustees of Banner of Truth Trust explain in the introduction,

These pages are dedicated to Iain and Jean Murray, whose vision, dedication, ministry, and encouragement has undergirded the publication of every volume (without exception) selected in You Must Read. Humanly speaking, without their joint service of our Lord it is unlikely that many of these books would have been published in our lifetimes, and also improbably that other publishers would have caught their vision and published similar books. (xii-xiii)

They go on to explain that Iain would not have been thrilled with a traditional festschrift, which would have also necessitated different shaping of the included essays. Instead, what comes on the 60th anniversary of his dedication to ministry, marriage, and the publication of The Banner of Truth magazine is a collection of 32 short essays commending a particular publication of Banner of Truth Trust for readers to take and read today. As such, it provides a great introduction to the catalog of publication, as well as motivation to check out many of the titles. If this is a publisher you’re unfamiliar with, this would be a great place to start getting acquainted.

Various Authors, You Must Read: Books That Have Shaped Our LivesCarlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, April 2015. 304 pp. Paperback, $18.00.

Buy itAmazon

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to Banner of Truth Trust for the review copy!


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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

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