Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Intro to Preaching: Book Review

February 7, 2011

This is the book review I wrote for my Intro to Preaching course.


Book Review: Preaching as Testimony by Anna Carter Florence

Preaching as Testimony by Anna Carter Florence, is written for the explicit reason of asking readers “to rethink preaching in light of testimony…[and]…testimony in light of preaching.”[1] As Florence sees it, “testimony is our oldest model for talking about God”[2] but “is a virtually untapped resource” and its absence from homiletics “need[s] to be addressed.”[3] Aware of the ongoing debate regarding the complications of sharing too much personal information from the pulpit, Florence persuasively argues that we reclaim testimony as a form of preaching that is not autobiographical, but rather a telling of what the preacher “has seen and heard in the Biblical text and in life, and then confesses what she believes about it.”[4]

Preaching as Testimony is broken up into three parts.  Florence believes there are details of our preaching tradition that have been forgotten and as such, part one highlights three women preachers as an attempt to “wake up some of those details.”[5] Her choice of women is based on the fact that they were “amazing people” who were famous and had “written documents associated with them” to include “trial transcripts, letters, autobiographies, and journals.”[6] Just as these women were worth highlighting in the book, they are worth highlighting here.  (more…)


Suggested Resources on Luke

April 16, 2010

Below is a list of resources my Greek Exegesis Prof made available for us.  The exegesis paper I wrote on Luke can be found here.

Recommended Commentaries:

Bovon, Francois. Luke 1 (Luke 1:1-9:50). Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002.

Culpepper, R. A. The Gospel of Luke. In The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 9. Nashville: Abingdon, 1995.

Fitzmyer, J. A. The Gospel According to Luke. 2 vols. Anchor Bible. Garden City: Doubleday, 1981 and 1985.

Green, J. B. The Gospel of Luke. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.

Johnson, L. T. The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1991.

Marshall, I. H. The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978.

Talbert, C. H. Reading Luke: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Third Gospel. New York: Crossroad, 1988.

Commended Commentaries:

Caird, G. B. Saint Luke. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963.

Schweizer, E. The Good News according to Luke. Atlanta: John Knox, 1984.

Tannehill, R. C. Luke. Abingdon New Testament Commentary. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.

For general background, you may want to begin with one of the following:

Carroll, John. “Gospel of Luke.” In The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 2008. 3:720-34.

Green, Joel. The Theology of the Gospel of Luke. New Testament Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

PTS Recommended Reading

February 28, 2010

In my last post, I answered a few questions about seminary experience thus far.  I mentioned a recommended reading list I received prior to arriving at PTS and said I would post it separately.  The list is not very long but considering it is sent out the summer before students are arriving it seems realistic to me.  Of the ones listed, I purchased How to Read the Bible Book by Book prior to my arrival but did not spend much time in it until my Intro to Old Testament Studies class.  I purchased Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer at the campus book store and read it over the summer.  It was a great read and I highly recommend it!


Comby, Jean, How to Read Church History, vol. 1, From the Beginnings to the Fifteenth Century (New York: Crossroad, 1985).

Bruyneel, Sally and Alan G. Padgett, Introducing Christianity (Maryknoll, N.Y.:  Orbis, 2003).

Olson, Roger E., The Story of Christian Theology:  Twenty Centuries of Tradition & Reform (Downers Grove, Ill.:  InterVarsity, 1999).

Fee, Gordon, How to Read the Bible Book by Book:  A Guided Tour (Grand Rapids, Mich:  Zondervan, 2002)

Practical Theology
Paul Scott Wilson, The Four Pages of a Sermon:  A Guide to Biblical Preaching.  Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 1999.

Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran(eds.)  A Knock at Midnight:  Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Grand Central Publishing, 2000.

General Suggestions
Elie Wiesel, Night.  New York:  Hill and Wang, c2006

D. Bonhoeffer’s Life Together.  Minneapolis:  Fortress 1996

Karl Barth Evangelical Theology:  An Introduction.  New York:  Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963.

A Book Review: nuChristian by Russell E. D. Rathbun

October 13, 2009
Image by: Judson Press

Image by: Judson Press

Recently, I was asked to do a book review of a book called nuChristian (no that’s not a typo…its actually ‘nu’ as in ‘new’) that is a response of sorts, but more so a contribution to the ongoing conversation that resulted from the book unChristian written by Dave Kinnamon (President of The Barna Group) and Gabe Lyon (founder of Fermi Group, now Q) and published in 2007.   Written by Rev. Russell Rathbun, one of the founding pastors of House of Mercy in St. Paul, Minnesota, the book is practical, pastoral, and conversational and based largely on Russel’s experience in the post-modern world.  As such Russell is upfront about the fact that he is writing from a “highly subjective, extremely relational perspective” (p. viii).  While some may discount his book since it is “subjective” and “relational,” I think it has a great deal of insight to offer and I am thankful Russell chose to write from this standpoint.

In the Forward of the book, Shane Claiborne writes, “I am convinced that if we lose a generation in the church, that loss won’t be because we failed to entertain them, but because we failed to dare them–to take the words of Jesus seriously and to do something about the things that are wrong in the world” (p. vi).  According to Shane, “Russell Rahtburn offers us that dare–to renew a Christianity that reminds the world of Jesus again” (

There is a lot that I could say about this book.  I think Russell does a great job of responding to the data presented in The Barna Group’s study.  And I very much appreciate his straightforward but gracious approach in his response.  I think the two things that jumped out at me the most while reading Russell’s book were his discussion of ‘scapegoating’ and his understanding of the way postmodern people read the Bible.

Russell goes into some depth to draw his reader into his understanding of ‘scapgoating.’  While I was familiar with the term, I very much appreciated his efforts to place the concept within our current culture and context.  Early on in the book Russell writes, “The kingdom of God is made up of every kind of person there is” (p. 3).  Though this may result in a response of “well, duh” from many people but let’s be honest…this is not the reality of many churches.  I personally have attended or visited many churches and found them to be demographically and ideologically anemic.  Many write this off as a result of people seeking to be with others who are like them (what Russell refers to as the “homogenous unit principle” as introduced by Dr. Donald A. McGraven [p. 1]).  I personally think this it’s a cop out.  Russell presents the idea that it is ‘scapegoating’ (p. 6).  The bottom line in this seems to be that “scapegoating is when we find someone else like us, and we bond of the shared object of our envy, anxiety, and fear” (p. 6) since “one of us most be wrong” (p. 7) if there is a difference in desires or opinions.  It is harder for me to walk the line between scapegoating and judgement, but undoubtedly blaming any one certain group for the ills of society is unfounded at best.  I appreciate Russell’s efforts to drive the point home that “nuChristians listen to and consider the opinions of others” (p.88).  That coupled with the reality that “human perfections is an illusion” (p.88) makes a great case in and of itself for leaving the judgement of others to God.

As for Russell’s understanding of the way postmodern people read the Bible, he first explains that previous generations typically view scripture “as an instruction book, a guidebook, [or] a book of answers” (p.16).  In this line of thing, “there is only one right interpretation of every text in the Bible”  (p.16).  In the eyes of a postmodern person, if this is trued, they “see the Scriptures as something dead” (p. 17).  Instead of thinking of the Bible as an answer book, Russell proposes that we view it “as a book of really good questions” (p.18).  I really like that.  It took quite some time in my own life to see that if Christianity is just about following rules, you don’t need the Holy Spirit.  Or discernment.  Or a brain even.  Machines can follow rules.  Russell compares this to the use of a “checklist” saying, “you don’t need God when you have a checklist” (p.19).  I also found it very intriguing that Russell has found that “in [his] own ministry…highlighting the questions we find in Scriptures gives people permission to voice the questions they have always wondered about” (p. 18).  It’s rather boring, after all, when someone just provides you with all the answers.  Our brains can only take so much of that.  It’s boring, frankly, and it assumes that the person giving the who is on the receiving end of the answers doesn’t have the mental capacity to think through things on their own.  Our curiosity is primed, so to speak, when there is mystery.  And if there is one place there is enough ministry to last us until Christ returns, it’s God and the Bible.  Allowing people to wade through the deep waters that are the Scriptures will surely bear more fruit and cramming answers in their brains.

While I am sure I disagree with Russell on at least a few things, the more I think about it the more I understand agreeing isn’t really important.  It seems to me that Russell is daring us to hold our beliefs loosely and others tightly.  Love of God and Love of neighbor are linked inseparably.  And if loving my neighbor means challenging myself to be more accepting of ambiguity and more realistic about the limits of my own humanity I am all for it.  No one has it all figured out.  We can all learn from each other.  The question is, will we humble ourselves enough to allow that to happen?

He has showed you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6.8

*for more reviews on this book, visit for a list of blogs included on this blog tour*

A Book Review: More Ready Than You Realize by Brian McLaren

September 25, 2009

I found this book while buying text books for my fall classes.  It was on the shelf for another class that after seeing the “text books,” I wish I could take.  Brian McLaren is one of my favorite authors not because I agree with everything that he says, but mostly because he has a lot of really great ideas and I feel as though I have become a better follower of Christ from conversing with Brian through his books.  Brian’s ideas are very challenging.  But I have found them challenging in a productive way.  There has been fruit as a result of the challenges he has issued to me as a reader of his books both in what he says and more importantly how he says it.

In Brian’s book More Ready Than You Realize, Brian invites readers into a dialogue that takes place between him and woman named April he meets at a book signing.  Though the words exchanged at the book signing were few, April read Brian’s book in one night and e-mailed him shortly after meeting him.  What starts as a short conversation turns into a spiritual friendship.  As Brian sees it, “engaging in spiritual friendship will not only help others become Christians, it will help us become better Christians, who love God more than ever…because our concept of God is expanding, deepinging, and growing more glorious through conversation with our seeking friends” (p.58).  If that’s not shocking, he goes on to say, “In essence, the Christians are “converted” first in authentic spiritual friendships” (p.58).

More Ready That You Realize is a breath of fresh air in the aftermath of televangelists and cookie-cutter salvation prayers in that he offers an authentic view of how people can come together and learn from each other and how in that, both those who have met Christ and those who aren’t sure if they want to, are more ready than they realize.  While Brian does not offer a simple system to “do things the right way,” if you have questions like…

How do I share my faith in Christ without being a Bible beater?

Do people really want to hear about Jesus anyway?

What if I don’t feel confident enough in my faith to tell people about it?

How am I supposed to know how to answer questions people ask me about Jesus, God, and the Bible?!?

This book will contribute to your faith journey in ways that are beneficial for you personally, as well as those you encounter on the way.

For more information about Brian and his books and speaking ministry, visit

(McLaren, Brian D. More Ready Than You Realize. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006.)