Christian Book Reviews
Full Gospel, Fractured Minds?
Every once in a while a book comes along that I find myself passionately recommending to others. For me, such a book is not only a good read but one which capsulizes many of the things I have been feeling as well as speaking to churches. Rick Nanez' Full Gospel, Fractured Minds is such a book.
This book is a passionate plea to those in the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition to reexamine what we have believed and taught regarding the place of the intellect in the Christian life. "It challenges charismatic and Pentecostal believers to discover the power of a well-maintained mind-a mind on fire-to match a heart on fire and to create a a life that operates within the full counsel of God" (from the back cover). Nanez does a masterful job making the Scriptural case for the need of Spirit-filled believers to be equally concerned for the condition of their minds as they are for the level of spiritual experiences they enjoy.
Nanez is uniquely fit to write about these things having held credentials with the Assembly of God for over twenty years. He does not write as a mere statistician or observer but as one who has been deeply involved in Pentecostal/Charismatic church life. The book is very well written with a pastoral/teaching style which is both informative as well as exhortative. One of the most important parts of the book are the chapters devoted to uncovering the roots of Pentecostalism as it pertains to the mindlessness which is often characteristic of the movement. Nanez does an incredible job demonstrating the anti-intellectual bias of the early founders of Pentecostalism in the 20th century and how it set the stage for current attitudes towards the mind endemic of Spirit-filled believers. And he does so without negating his rich Pentecostal/Charismatic heritage with its emphasis on spiritual experience.
What emerges is a well documented read which is both insightful and inspirational. I especially recommend this work for pastors and elders of Spirit-filled churches. It sheds an abundance of light and understanding on how many believers in our churches think (or don't think) and the reasons why. Reading it was incredibly helpful in understanding the reticence of many Spirit-filled believers to do the hard work of thinking. The book is also very helpful in assisting leaders in knowing how to create a hunger for truth in the body of Christ.
All in all, any Spirit-filled believer will find this work incredibly helpful. Reading it will not diminish one iota the passion for those unique features of Pentecostal/Charismatic life such as belief in miracles, spontaneity, and the life of faith. On the contrary, it provides a vision of Spirit-filled life which calls for well-developed minds as well as passionate hearts.
Available at Amazon
Nancy Pearcey is well equipped to write this classic work on a biblical worldview. The late Francis Schaeffer personally trained her. She also wrote a classic worldview text with Chuck Colson entitled, How Then Shall We Live? So it is fitting that she now authored one of the best worldview texts of the modern era.
This work by Pearcey combines her own personal testimony in which she ended up at Schaeffer's L'Abri in Switzerland where she learned her the importance of a biblical worldview with keen insights into the pathology of the present culture. She draws heavily from Schaeffer's classic illustration of the culture in which he compares it to a two-story building, the lower story containing the cognitive stuff that counts as real knowledge such as science, reason, date, etc. and the upper story the non-cognitive stuff (such as religion). She thoroughly dismantles this cultural myth demonstrating that religion belongs in the cognitive realm every bit as much as science and data.
Having personally used this as a text for my students, I have seen its value. For those with little or no training in worldview this book clearly and precisely describes the main components of a biblical worldview as well as explains the difference between it and every other worldview. I highly recommend it as a primer for those wanting to be adequately prepared to defend the Christian message in a postmodern world.
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Heritage of God's Testimony
This classic work by Neil Silverberg follows the movements of the ancient ark of the covenant through its wilderness wanderings and draws from that history relevant principles for church life today. The overriding passion of this message is the supremacy of God's testimony in His Son. This work demonstrates those principles which are always evident in God's restoration of the testimony of His Son in his house.
Available at www.ezraproject.org
Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God
Once in a while a book comes along that stands as a classic on a certain topic. Gordon Fee's ‘God's Empowering Presence’ is one of those works. This exhaustive work examines every reference in the Pauline corpus to the Holy Spirit. But for many of us this massive tome (as Fee himself described it) is far to large to tackle. Thankfully, Fee has crystallized the basic essence of that book in his work entitled ‘Paul, the Spirit and the People of God.” The result is another classic work on the topic of the Holy Spirit that is both instructive and readable. I highly recommend this work by Fee.
Available at Amazon