Mere Christianity
by C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity is C.S. Lewis’s forceful and very practical doctrine of the essentials of Christian belief. First heard as informal radio broadcasts and then published as three separate books, The Case for Christianity, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality.  Mere Christianity brings together what Lewis saw as the fundamental truths of the Christian religion. Rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity’s many denominations, C.S. Lewis finds a common ground on which all those who have Christian faith can stand together, proving that “at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks the same voice.”

Lewis is as skillful as ever, explaining in laymen’s terms deep theological truths. “Keep in mind, [as] Lewis repeatedly reminds his readers that he is not a theologian.” He shows the reader a great example of how to take deep theological truths and state them so almost anyone can “get it”!

C. S. Lewis defends Christianity by building a logical foundation for belief. He begins with the premise that a Natural Law must exist, as humans did not invent it, but humans respond to it and cannot escape its influences. From this he proposes that God must exist, and that this God must be made up of three parts: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love springs from the relationship between the Father and Son. The Holy Ghost is a conduit for the divine love, and the Son has the responsibility to bring as many human souls to the Father as possible.

Lewis describes what a Christian believes and how a Christian should behave. The beliefs follow the logical argument, and the behavior involves several virtues that should be practiced, with the help of Jesus Christ. The first steps in being a Christian are to accept Jesus Christ and to try to be more like Him. The more closely one can be more like Jesus Christ, the better. Lewis continually illustrates and stresses in very insightful ways, “There is no other way to everlasting life than through Jesus Christ, and there is no other correct religion.” A must read for all Christians.

Amazing Grace
by Eric Metaxas

Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas is an excellent book to begin the new year. Amazing Grace tells the story of the remarkable life of the British abolitionist William Wilberforce (1759–1833). This biography chronicles Wilberforce’s extraordinary role as a human rights activist, cultural reformer, and devout Christian. Following his conversion to Christianity, Wilberforce was compelled to put his faith into action as he faced the social ills of society. Though, those of us who remember Wilberforce, from history lessons, know him primarily as the leader of the fight to abolish the slave trade, the truth is that he fought two great battles, the first against slavery and the second for the reformation of manners (which is to say a kind of social reform against rampant immorality and vice). While this biography focuses primarily on the first of these battles, the second battle does receive some attention as well. Life in Wilberforce’s day was brutal, decadent, violent and vulgar. Societal evils were many and horrific: “epidemic alcoholism, child prostitution, child labor, frequent public executions for petty crimes, public dissections and burnings of executed criminals, and unspeakable public cruelty to animals”.  All of these were far more visible than slavery. “Wilberforce knew that, if society was to be brought into line with the commandments of God, it would need to begin with the reformation of manners and he spent much of his life attempting to ban what was vulgar and unbiblical and to promote what was beautiful and Scriptural, knowing that success in the small things would eventually lead to success in greater things.” Metaxas discovers in this unsung hero a man of whom it can truly be said was used by the Lord to not only change Britain, but to change the world. “Before Wilberforce, few people thought slavery was wrong. After Wilberforce, most societies in the world came to see it as a great moral wrong.”  Metaxas’ biography of Wilberforce, Amazing Grace, is an easy to read book which will inspire and challenge the reader’s life.

Hidden Christmas
by Tim Keller

In this new book, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ, bestselling author, Timothy  Keller leads his readers through the surprising background of the Nativity story—a story that celebrates the advent of Jesus Christ, who came to save mankind and restore our humanity to how it was meant to be. In Hidden Christmas, Keller addresses the message of hope, redemption, and salvation hidden in the biblical account of Jesus’ birth so that readers may experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in a meaningful and deeper way. For centuries, December marks a time of expectation, excitement, hope, joy, activity and family. It marks the season of Christmas, or, as some say, the season of Advent, of the Nativity story.

In our secular society, everyone, including Christians, gets swept up in the Christmas spirit and even people who are not professing Christians claim familiarity with the story of the Nativity. Christmas displays of Jesus resting in a manger populate lawns and churchyards, and songs about shepherds and angels fill the air. This is the time of the year when the secular world sings our songs.  Hidden Christmas challenges the Christian reader to think deeper about the biblical story of Christ’s birth. Keller’s words warn against becoming hemmed in and defined by the abundance of Christian references in popular culture

The Intolerance of Tolerance
by D.A. Carson

This book exposes one of the greatest cultural issues of our day—tolerance. The book focuses on a topic which is impacting every areaof society today.  In post-modernism, tolerance—the affirming and celebrating of virtually any exercise of personal autonomy- is the prime value. The unforgiveable sin is being judgmental, that is, believing that an activity or lifestyle choice that does not hurt another person is wrong, immoral or sinful. A second related unforgiveable sin is claiming that what you believe is objectively true and thus binding on another person. A person who holds these beliefs is considered to be bigoted, narrow-minded, and arrogant.

Debates about Christianity have shifted from whether it’s true to was anyone offended. The Gospel is offensive but the gospel messenger must be loving. The heart of the book is about the notion of tolerance which is changing, and with it new definitions that shape tolerance. The problem with tolerance is that it is not tolerant at all. Tolerance promises much, but at end of the day, it is another false gospel the world proclaims in order to distract men and women from the Gospel. As Paul did with the false teachers at Corinthians, so Christians must today - avoid preaching their opinions nor accommodate false teaching, but to proclaim that the Gospel is the power of God unto the salvation of mankind. A Challenging book that alerts its readers to attitude of society towards Christianity. A very profitable read that will prove very helpful in understanding the modern climate that is impacting Christianity today!

Prayer: Experiencing Awe
and Intimacy with God
by Timothy Keller

Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But few receive instruction or guidance in how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act. Keller looks to the past, to the deep wells of Christian history, and draws heavily from Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Owen, and Edwards.  He understands that any new insights on prayer tend to go farther from, rather than closer to biblical truth. Instead of looking for new secrets to discover or keys to unlock, Keller looks for fresh ways of saying those old things.

Keller’s book is divided into five parts: Desiring Prayer, Understanding Prayer, Learning Prayer, Deepening Prayer, Doing Prayer. Keller states, “few receive instruction or guidance in how to make prayer genuinely meaningful.” With thoughtful insight, Keller offers biblical guidance as well as specific prayers for certain situations; such as dealing with grief, loss, love, and forgiveness. He discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader. In Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Keller shows and encourages his readers how to find a deeper connection with God. Prayer is a book for people who want biblical grounding in prayer, a gospel motivation to pray, and practical methods for prayer. This book is for people who are serious about maturing in their understanding and experience of prayer.

PRAYER A biblical Perspective
by Eric J. Alexander

This month treat yourself to a good and challenging book on prayer. “We shall do well to watch our habits of prayer with a holy watchfulness. Here is the pulse of our Christianity. Here is the true test of our state before God.” (J.C. Ryle) Author Eric Anderson helpfully writes in his book, Prayer: A Biblical Perspective, that prayer for the Christian matters. Indeed, the author’s chief concern in this book is to remind Christians that prayer is fundamental, not supplemental; both for the individual and in the corporate lives of God’s people. He shows that nowhere is this dependence on prayer more fully exemplified than in the life and teaching of Jesus, himself, and in the ministry of the New Testament church.

His challenge and encouragement to the reader is the practical priority and helpful insights in pursuing prayer as the Lord intends. For those who find it difficult to pray, there is much encouragement here. The author addresses the common problems believers face when coming to prayer. This is a book for all those who want to live nearer to God and to be refreshed in their communion with Him. Here is a book that should be read by every Christian who wants to enrich their prayer life.

book reviews

Touching our Community with God’s Grace

COMMUNITY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

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