Great books tell stories. Here’s our pick of vivid and insightful new releases for better understanding America, world events, history, science, and theology
Culture Notable Books
Some recent Christian books say God’s work is so urgent that it leaves no time for simply enjoying His creation. Wittmer disagrees. He shows that God created this world so we could enjoy it, and He still expects us to find enjoyment in it. Wittmer, writing that our responsibility in this world is to love God, serve our neighbor, cultivate the earth, and rest, argues that we need to maintain a balance between these. He writes, “The more we enjoy God’s gifts for their own sake, the more we can appreciate him.”
Platt issues an urgent call for Christians to counter cultural evils—poverty, same-sex marriage, sex slavery, abortion—“with conviction, compassion, and courage.” We do this by first understanding how the gospel addresses these issues, and then by seeing how it calls us to action. Our first call is not to social and cultural transformation, but to gospel proclamation. He writes, “May it be said of us that we not only held firm to the gospel, but that we spoke clearly with the gospel to the most pressing issues of our day.”
Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes
Noted Christian biographer Iain Murray briefly tells of the great missionary Amy Carmichael, who in 1887 heard Hudson Taylor’s urgent call to mission and followed it to India. She encountered suffering as she rescued girls and young women from temple prostitution. Murray touches on Carmichael’s strengths (her trust in the Lord and clear sense of calling) and her weaknesses (her tendency to let subjective impressions take the place of God’s Word, directing her actions in ways that later proved misguided). The book is a good starting point for those wanting an introduction to this dedicated woman’s life.
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a growing religious movement that is spreading across the world. The movement is apostolic in that it means to restore apostles and prophets to the church. It is a reformation because its leaders hold that, like the Protestant Reformation, it will transform the church. Sadly, it is founded upon unbiblical principles and misuses Scripture. Geivett and Pivec critique the movement’s goals, beliefs, and leadership. With charity and fitting firmness, they expose NAR as a movement that exists outside the bounds of biblical orthodoxy.
Registered nurse Cortney Davis was accustomed to seeing illness from the caregiver’s perspective— until in 2013 a simple surgery turned into a 26-day stay in the hospital. In When the Nurse Becomes a Patient: A Story in Words and Images (Kent State University Press, 2015), Davis offers insight into the world of the suffering: “My pain was intense, and so was my fear. Fear is pain’s companion—and yet no caregiver asked me to rate my fear and, as a nurse, I’d rarely asked that of my patients. Medication might lessen our bodily pains, turning an 8 into a 5, but it doesn’t necessarily render us less afraid.” Primitive paintings express her feelings. Several deal with her sense of God’s abandonment during the “dark night.” She writes: “This dark night did eventually end. It ended because of the love of my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, and all those who prayed with and for me.” —Susan Olasky