It’s been a busy season the last few weeks for publications of things I’ve been asked to commend, plus one book I’ve contributed to myself, so here’s an update, with my comments in each case.
’Tricia Williams’ What Happens to Faith when Christians Get Dementia (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2021) is a lightly revised doctoral thesis studying how some Christians from an evangelical tradition who are in early to middle stages of dementia experience their faith. It’s fine work, and essential for theological college and university libraries! Here’s my comment:
- Dementia is a widespread and growing illness in our day, and those who experience it are too frequently marginalised, stigmatised, and unheard. Dr Williams’ invaluable pioneering study opens up the experience of evangelical Christians with dementia by listening with care and thought to these people, and thereby opens windows into their lives which were previously closed. This well-constructed project collects valuable experiential data, and provides thoughtful and engaging reflection on the experiences of evangelical Christians with dementia, in conversation with theology and Scripture. It will inform, stimulate and challenge churches to be better stewards of their members with dementia by advocating on their behalf. Highly recommended!
Reuben Bredenhof’s Weak Pastor, Strong Christ: Developing a Christ-Shaped Gospel Ministry (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2021) is a fine study of what 2 Corinthians has to say about being a pastor/church leader. As you can guess from the title, it’s focused on human weakness and Christ’s strength in that role. Here’s my comment:
- Reuben Bredenhof gives us a fine thoughtful, engaging and readable study of 2 Corinthians which opens up the apostle Paul’s pastoral mind and heart to today’s pastors and church members. Women and men in pastoral ministry will find this book immensely encouraging, realistic and practical, as will church members. Reuben both opens up the difficulties and joys Paul experiences in pastoring the Corinthian Christians in the first century, and bridges the gap between then and now so that the importance and relevance of Paul’s teaching for today’s churches and pastors is clear. This wise and practical book goes well beyond the superficiality of ‘how to’ books on Christian ministry to dig deep into theology and ministry. Read it—you’ll learn much from it!
Gary Burnett’s little book Paul Distilled (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2021) is a brilliant little ‘way in’ book on Paul, stemming from ten-minute talks on Paul Gary recorded for his church during lockdown. It focuses on major themes in Paul’s writings, and is wonderfully accessible. It would work well in a local church or home study group. Here’s my comment:
- Is Paul past his sell-by date? This wonderful little book shows how relevant and important the apostle Paul’s letters are in today’s world. Gary Burnett writes in an engagingly and unstuffy way, drawing on many years of study of Paul to shine light on Paul’s major themes and ideas. Christians today will find this book engages them, illuminates their thinking, believing and living, and challenges and provokes them to action in world and church. Bravo!
And finally (as they say on the British TV news), I contributed an essay on ‘Portraits of Jesus and Paul through the Lukan Lens’ to a lovely book, Who Created Christianity? edited by Craig Evans and Aaron White (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2020). The collection is a Festschrift (collection of essays to honour a scholar) for David Wenham, with whom I coauthored a Gospels and Acts textbook, now in its third edition. The whole book engages with the relationship between Paul and Jesus, a subject much debated in scholarship, and there are some excellent essays by a wide range of scholars who move discussion on—another one that’s an essential for theological college and university libraries. Here’s what Roy Ciampa says about it:
- The editors have put together a stellar group of contributors and essay that significantly advance the cutting edge of research on the relationship between Jesus and Paul. The quality of the essays reflects the appropriate commitment to honoring David Wenham, whose own work on this and related themes is engaged throughout.