Friday, July 28, 2017

Review: Thank You for Arguing

In Thank You for Arguing (Three Rivers Press, 2017), rhetorician Jay Heinrichs presents a readable yet comprehensive overview on the art of argument. Now in its third edition, this newly-revised version of the popular text features an "Argument Lab" at the end of the book, allowing students to practice their argumentation skills upon completion of the book. There is also a glossary of rhetorical strategies, helpful for quick and easy reference.

This is an excellent book that I wish I had when I was taking rhetoric classes. The author uses a humorous style and many real-world and pop culture examples, such as how to argue your way out of a traffic ticket. As Heinrichs argues, all the world requires rhetoric, so why not learn how to win everything from a presidential debate to a sibling argument. There are many pullouts with applications of his text—and he even analyzes the rhetorical devices used in the book itself! Overall, this is a very valuable text for casual readers and scholars alike, a perfect introduction to becoming an amazing arguer.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review as a part of the Blogging for Books program.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God

What is God like? Is he the angry, violent God that we read about in the Old Testament? Or is he the picture of a loving, compassionate Father that we see in the New Testament? In Brian Zahnd's Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Good News, a pastor tries to correct Christians' false views of God. The book is named after revivalist Jonathan Edwards' most famous sermon for a reason; this sermon that had a profound impact on American evangelicalism also influenced how many American Christians view God today—an angry God.

The initial concern that readers may have is, "But God actually commanded genocide, didn't he?" Zahnd excellently avoids falling into heretical traps such as Arianism, Marcionism, and Gnosticism. He is careful to jump to far conclusions and uses Scripture to back up his points. Without ignoring the passages of Scripture that show God's angry side, he unpacks a Christological argument for how the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ finally closed the book on God's history of violence, replacing it instead with pure, true love.

For those looking to more fully understand God's nature, this is an excellent place to start. It is theologically packed yet not exhaustive, serving well as an introductory text. Perhaps we can all step away deeper in love with the God whose loving embrace holds us together.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review as a part of the Blogging for Books program.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Review: As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Ever wonder what an award-winning Bible translator does on a Sunday morning? As Kingfishers Catch Fire (WaterBrook Multnomah, 2017) is a collection of Eugene Peterson's sermons and musings from his years as a church leader. Subtitled "a conversation on the ways of God formed by the words of God," this anthology of Peterson's homiletic hits seeks to develop our spirituality in a way of deeper holiness. This book is organized around a canonical structure, almost like a pseudo lectionary. It is as if we are invited into Peterson's church for front-pew seats on a Sunday morning service, eavesdropping on what he has to say to his congregation.

The initial impression—wow! Peterson is warm, didactic, and authentic as he interprets and applies the Scriptures. This book is targeted toward seminarians and pastors, but it can easily find a resonant audience from laypersons. A valuable resource for personal spiritual formation that, with God's help, can spill into how we shape those we shepherd.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review as a part of the Blogging for Books program.