Archives for January 2014

The Weekly Hit List: January 31, 2014

Craig Detweiler, author of iGods, was interviewed by James Allen for Teachings of Enoch.

This interview originally aired on KKVV AM 1060 in Las Vegas.


Quick Hits:

Devin Brown, author of A Life Observed, will appear on Dr. Bill Maier Live tomorrow (Saturday, February 1) at 12:10 p.m. ET.

The Mennonite wrote about how Living into Focus by Arthur Boers inspired a couple to embark on a six-week, 500-mile walking pilgrimage.

Educating All God’s Children by Nicole Baker Fulgham was mentioned by Practical Catholic Evangelization.

Craig Detweiler, author of iGods, was interviewed in The Christian Chronicle“iGods and other devices: Teens connected and distracted.”

iGods was quoted by Professor Josh Chalmers.

Nijay Gupta recommended the forthcoming Brazos Press book by Craig Blomberg, Can We Still Believe the Bible?.

Lectionary Reflection for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 5:1-12:

Given our everyday assumptions, we normally do not think that the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, peacemakers, those persecuted for righteousness sake, are “blessed.” Yet that Jesus declares such people “blessed” indicates that the transformed world has begun with the proclamation that “the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Each of the Beatitudes names a gift, but it is not presumed that everyone who is a follower of Jesus will possess each beatitude. Rather, the gifts named in the Beatitudes suggest that the diversity of these gifts will be present in the community of those who have heard Jesus’s call to discipleship. Indeed, to learn to be a disciple is to learn why we are dependent on those who mourn or who are meek, though we may not possess that gift ourselves.

It is tempting to speculate what kind of person is the exemplification of each of the Beatitudes. For example, it is often suggested that the “poor in spirit” exemplify the virtue of humility; or that “those who mourn” repent of their sins; or that “the meek” imitate the gentleness of the Lord and endure offense rather than retaliate; or that “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” desire nothing but God’s justice; or that “the merciful” exemplify compassion for the poor; or that “the pure in heart” have been cleansed of fleshly desires; or that “the peacemakers” preserve the unity of the church as well as seek the peace of the city; or that “those who are persecuted” endure hardship for the sake of the gospel. Each of these characterizations have merit and are useful for our edification.

But the source for any understanding of the Beatitudes must be Jesus. It is from Jesus that we learn what it means to be “poor in the spirit.” Thus Paul can commend the Philippians to have “the same mind . . . that was in Christ Jesus”:

Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:5–8)


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Introducing Christians at the Border, 2nd Ed.

Immigration is one of the most pressing issues on the national agenda. In this accessible book, an internationally recognized immigration expert helps readers think biblically about this divisive issue, offering accessible, nuanced, and sympathetic guidance for the church. As both a Guatemalan and an American, the author is able to empathize with both sides of the struggle and argues that each side has much to learn.

This updated and revised edition reflects changes from the past five years, responds to criticisms of the first edition, and expands sections that have raised questions for readers. It includes a foreword by Samuel Rodríguez and an afterword by Ronald Sider. This timely, clear, and compassionate resource will benefit all Christians who are thinking through the immigration issue.


For more information about Christians at the Border, click here.

The Weekly Hit List: January 24, 2014

Hearts & Minds Books named On God’s Side by Jim Wallis the “Best Book for the Common Good” of 2013.

“I think this one is a splendid example of a third voice between the so called religious right and secular left.

“Here he has given us his best book in years, and an important set of considerations for citizens who have long worked for the common good, and a great starter book for anyone beginning to read for the first time about evangelical faith and public life.

“I really love much about this, and very sincerely want to honor it.”

Read the rest here.




Quick Hits:

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was reviewed by Joshua Reich.

CRC News and Views wrote about Kevin Schut, author of Of Games and God, in “Seeking God in Video Games.”

Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, author of Glittering Vices, wrote New Life in the Desert: Monastic Wisdom for Public Life” for Comment magazine.


Ebook Specials:

Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm is only $2.99 (81% off) from participating retailers through January 25.


Lectionary Reflection for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 4:12-23:

John the Baptist is arrested. The struggle has only begun. Some may find Jesus’s reaction to John’s arrest strange—he withdraws to Galilee. He escapes from Judea and the power of Archelaus. Jesus does not seek a direct confrontation with the powers, rather he begins to preach, declaring as John had, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Yet unlike John, Jesus proclaims the nearness of the kingdom in “Galilee of the Gentiles.”

Jesus goes to Galilee to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that a light will dawn in the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali (Isa. 9:1). Isaiah identifies that light with the child on whose shoulders will rest all authority. He will be named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isa. 9:6–7)

David’s kingdom is now present in Jesus. Jesus now proclaims the advent of the kingdom in Galilee to the Gentiles—a remarkable development, but one that Israel itself anticipated, as we see from the prophet Isaiah. It is a kingdom that requires repentance. Repentance, moreover, requires a training called discipleship. So we should not be surprised that Jesus now calls his first disciples. He does not call his disciples from the powerful or the elites, but rather he calls fishermen, promising to make them fish for people.

When Jesus calls Simon and Andrew, James and John, they are working. Yet in both instances they immediately leave their nets and follow him. We are even told that James and John leave their father—a leaving signaling the sacrifices that the disciples will have to undergo in order to recognize who it is they follow, for the kingdom born in this man, the kingdom of David, requires a transformation that all his disciples must undergo. The new David is not one whose purple is immediately evident, but rather his power can be found only in his crucifixion. It will take new eyes and ears to see and hear the truth proclaimed through the cross.


©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Ebook Special for Monk Habits for Everyday People by Dennis Okholm

Now through January 25, the ebook of Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm is only $2.99 (81% off) from the following participating retailers:


Barnes & Noble



“Readers might not think that poverty, chastity and obedience would be attractive to the common Protestant, but Okholm . . . will make them think twice. Although he is a Presbyterian, Okholm is comfortable with Catholicism and realistic about the benefits and burdens of both denominations. He finds in Benedictine monasticism a helpful path to holiness, and he avoids idealizing or romanticizing the monastic life. This is why his work succeeds as a guide for the common Christian. Okholm is wise to point out that St. Benedict’s Rule, the text upon which his vision of monastic life is built, is both challenging and down-to-earth. The author invites readers to integrate some monastic practices into their daily lives and stresses that this does not involve cloistering themselves–these practices are both ordinary and sacred. He also provides an excellent example for Catholics and Protestants alike to dig deeply into the Christian tradition and find how both can spiritually benefit from the other. . . . This is a fascinating and, considering its brevity, surprisingly detailed overview that readers should not pass up.”
Publishers Weekly

“The practices of Benedictine monasticism have several times brought revitalization and spiritual focus back to the worldwide church at large. In this informative and irenic book, Dennis Okholm explains how the ‘rule’ of Benedict did the same for him personally as an evangelical professor and Presbyterian minister. The book’s winsome portrait of the Benedictines–and, through their monastic practices, of Christ–makes for a spiritual feast. The historically minded will also benefit from Okholm’s careful discussion of why more Protestants should pay greater heed to the Benedictine life.”
Mark A. Noll, coauthor of Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Catholicism

When Dennis Okholm began exploring the roots of contemporary Benedictine monasticism, he quickly found that St. Benedict has as much to offer Protestants as he does Roman Catholics. In Monk Habits for Everyday People, Okholma professor who was raised as a Pentecostal and a Baptist–uses his profound experience with Benedictine spirituality to show how it can enrich the lives and prayer practices of Protestants.

Okholm unpacks the Rule of St. Benedicta practical guide for living the Christian faith and cultivating Christian virtueby reflecting on aspects of spirituality such as listening, poverty, obedience, humility, hospitality, stability, and balance. His insights are invaluable to contemporary Christians, who, Okholm observes, have become consumers of religion rather than cultivators of a spiritual life. Readers will emerge not only with the desire to use the habits of monks to enhance their discipleship but also with the tools to start them on the journey.

Candid and engaging, Monk Habits for Everyday People is a valuable guide for Protestants seeking an accessible introduction to this classical resource for spiritual growth.

Ebook Special for iGods by Craig Detweiler

Now through January 21, the ebook of iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives by Craig Detweiler is only $3.99 (78% off) from the following participating retailers:


Barnes & Noble



“[Detweiler] examines today’s technology, from Apple to Instagram, and its impact on Americans’ spiritual lives. He knows the literature, organizes it as a good information curator should, and cites the provocative and deeper thinkers such as Jaron Lanier and Kevin Kelly. . . . An excellent conversation starter recommended for classroom use; Detweiler has made a solid contribution to the growing literature about religion and technology.”
Publishers Weekly

“[Detweiler] is among a growing number of Christian writers trying to assay the effects of the digital age by keeping a sharp eye on the technological transitions from clunky machines to gleaming handheld devices, from no Internet to Web 2.0 and beyond. . . . Where [Detweiler] excels most notably is in his careful, well-researched portrayal of the values and motivations behind the digital technologies so tightly woven into the fabric of our lives. By tracing the formation of the iGod institutions, his book constitutes ‘an active resistance to a thoughtless embrace.’ We’re offered a theologically informed exposé of technological influences and a cautionary reminder that our media gadgets and their makers are far from neutral. . . . Detweiler’s book stirs us out of our awed fascination to hear our Lord’s holy whisper amidst the techno-religious choirs.”
Christianity Today

“Detweiler is a Christian who loves God and is attached to his iPhone. While the benefits of technology are indisputable, many questions remain as to technology’s downside. Texting, social networking, and Internet research may not be enemies of faith, but Detweiler asks whether these activities and the technology behind them are making us more thoughtful, articulate, and loving people. . . . Detweiler’s analysis, although refracted through a Christian lens, is worthwhile reading for anyone concerned about the possibilities and perils of technology.”

Today the world is literally at our fingertips. We can call, text, email, or post our status to friends and family on the go. We can carry countless games, music, and apps in our pocket. Yet it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by access to so much information and exhausted from managing our online relationships and selves.

Craig Detweiler, a nationally known writer and speaker on media issues, provides needed Christian perspective on navigating today’s social media culture. He interacts with major symbols, or “iGods,” of our distracted age–Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Pixar, YouTube, and Twitter–to investigate the impact of the technologies and cultural phenomena that drive us. Detweiler offers a historic look at where we’ve been and a prophetic look at where we’re headed, helping us sort out the immediate from the eternal, the digital from the divine.

The Weekly Hit List: January 17, 2014

Of Games and God by Kevin Schut was reviewed by several reviewers for EFCA Today.

Of Games and God is part of a growing body of literature encouraging Christians to think critically about our relationship to technology. . . .

“For the pastor wanting to understand the child playing Elmo Loves ABCs, the teenager playing Call of Duty, the young professional playing World of Warcraft or the mom playing Candy Crush, Of Games and God helps us think about God, faith, video games and gaming culture from a distinctly Christian perspective.”

Read the rest of the reviews here.


And in case you missed it, this past Monday Kevin Schut spoke at The January Series at Calvin College.

Video of his talk is available here.


Quick Hits:

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was recommended by Walt Mueller.

Roger Olson shared that he is reading iGods  by Craig Detweiler.

Of Games and God by Kevin Schut and The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns were recommended by Pastor  Matt Mitchell.

Educating All God’s Children by Nicole Baker Fulgham was quoted on Flower Patch FarmGirl blog.

Jesus and Money by Ben Witherington III was quoted by Paul Beasley-Murray.


Ebook Specials:

The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture by Christian Smith is only $2.99 (82% off) from participating retailers through January 23.

Ebook Special for On God’s Side by Jim Wallis

Now through February 2, the ebook of On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good by Jim Wallis is only $3.99 (82% off) from the following participating retailers:


Barnes & Noble



“Christian activist and writer Wallis . . . draws on inspiration from Abraham Lincoln to reflect on the common good outside of political labels. . . . Clear definition and conviction . . . defines much of the book.”
Publishers Weekly

“Jim Wallis has long been an influential voice on Christian ethics and public life. But on a three-month sabbatical during the pinnacle of election season, Wallis stepped out of his sphere of influence to become, not a participator, but an observer. The result is a fresh take on the interplay of faith and politics in America.”

Bestselling author, public theologian, and leading Christian activist Jim Wallis speaks directly into our current context, revealing the spiritual compass we need to effect lasting change in our society. He explains how the good news of Jesus transforms not only our individual lives but also our public lives. Jesus’s gospel of the kingdom of God helps us recover a personal and social commitment to the common good and shows usin concrete wayshow to be both personally responsible and socially just. Working together, we can reshape our churches, society, politics, and economy.

Releasing in the wake of the 2012 election cycle, this book seeks to move beyond the current media and political warfare and bring together a divided country. Wallis explores how Jesus’s agenda can serve the common good, what it takes to sustain a lifelong commitment to social justice, and how reading the Bible as well as the culture can shape our lives for genuine transformation.

Ebook Special for The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith

Now through January 23, the ebook of The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture by Christian Smith is only $2.99 (82% off) from the following participating retailers:


Barnes & Noble



2011 Jesus Creed Book of the Year

Named a “Best Book of 2011” by Englewood Review of Books (most important theological work)

“[Smith] sets out in this finely constructed volume to question not just the wisdom but even the possibility of depending only on the Bible to define faith and practice. . . . Smith makes a persuasive case for shifting one’s focus from the sole authority of the words of scripture to the one whom scripture proclaims to be ‘the way, the truth and the life.’ Such a shift, he insists, is necessary for American evangelicalism to move forward.”
Publishers Weekly

“Buy this book, read it slowly and carefully, and ponder it . . . because this book is a very serious call for us to develop a more robust approach to the Bible.”
Scot McKnightJesus Creed blog

Biblicism, an approach to the Bible common among some American evangelicals, emphasizes together the Bible’s exclusive authority, infallibility, clarity, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, self-evident meaning, and universal applicability. Acclaimed sociologist Christian Smith argues that this approach is misguided and unable to live up to its own claims. If evangelical biblicism worked as its proponents say it should, there would not be the vast variety of interpretive differences that biblicists themselves reach when they actually read and interpret the Bible. Far from challenging the inspiration and authority of Scripture, Smith critiques a particular rendering of it, encouraging evangelicals to seek a more responsible, coherent, and defensible approach to biblical authority.