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 Fourth-quarter action


Fourth-quarter action

Debates, divisions, and life-or-death decisions

Lots of authors are like quarterbacks who move their team solidly down the field for three quarters, picking up a touchdown and several field goals. What separates the standard ones from the stars is what happens in the fourth quarter when the other team starts blitzing and the game will be won or lost depending on how the QB reacts.

Andrew Walker, author of God and the Transgender Debate (The Good Book Company, 2017), does a fine job summarizing the basics of a Christian worldview, but so do many other solidly quarterbacked books. The action picks up when he deals with specific questions the transgender movement hurls at Christians: How do we counsel those with gender dysphoria? How do we explain this to our children? Can someone be transgender and Christian?

Jim Newheiser’s Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage (P&R, 2017) fulfills its subtitle’s promise: Critical Questions and Answers. Luder Whitlock’s Divided We Fall (P&R, 2017) offers a strong plea against churches becoming divided on nonessentials. Elders at churches with divisions caused by “the New Perspective on Paul,” now not so new, should make good use of Robert Cara’s scholarly Cracking the Foundation of the New Perspective on Paul (Christian Focus, 2017). Cara ably critiques the New Perspective understanding of Judaism in the first century A.D., and in that process defends the Reformed doctrine of justification.

Sometimes it is necessary to divide. In Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth (Regnery, 2017), Everett Piper writes, “Note to Christian parents: Don’t assume that because a college has ‘Christian’ in its name or on its four-color brochure that the faculty and leadership share your beliefs.” Piper is president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, which he led out of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

Liberal Christian college professors will value Fred Van Geest’s Introduction to Political Science (IVP, 2017). Those looking to give their students more than liberalism should check out Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives on Capitalism, edited by Art Lindsley and Anne Bradley (Abilene Christian University Press, 2017).

Emily Dickinson advised us, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant— / Success in Circuit lies.” Egyptian Abu Atallah’s clear memoir, From Cairo to Christ (IVP, 2017), shows his faith journey and might be helpful with Muslims who would rather read a story than a theological tract. Some generals in World War I learned not to do frontal assaults on strong positions. Nick Lloyd’s Passchendaele (Basic, 2017) goes into eloquent but depressing depth about the ugly battle that left half a million men killed, wounded, maimed, gassed, or drowned, as British, French, and German generals continued to be slow learners.


Giles Milton’s Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat (Picador, 2017) vividly shows the efforts Winston Churchill made to plan it slant. He relished the work of a top-secret organization that worked to sabotage the German war machine—and I relished Milton’s colorful writing.

Those deep into the history of the Crusades will enjoy The Templars by Dan Jones (Viking, 2017). Thomas Weber’s Becoming Hitler (Basic, 2017) shows how the future Fuhrer lied about his past so as to turn himself into a World War I hero who early on discerned his ideological path, rather than a mixed-up young man who stayed mostly behind the front lines.

Leif Wenar’s Blood Oil (Oxford, 2015) includes important detail about how our purchases indirectly feed oppression in many poor countries, but the book needed an editor who could have made the specifics part of a well-organized story. Rupert Darwall’s Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex (Encounter, 2017) reports on radical environmentalism’s European ideological background.

The Big Break by Stephen Dando-Collins (St. Martin’s, 2017) tells well the story of a World War II breakout by Allied prisoners of war. Serhii Plokhy’s Lost Kingdom (Basic, 2017) shows Vladimir Putin plotting new aggressions to restore the results of Russia’s past aggressions. —M.O.