Monthly Book Reviews

Each month, Pastor Stef reads and reviews a different book - many of which you can find in The Hub, our church library.

  • Confessions of X

    Click here for June 2017 review


    Giving voice to one of history's most mysterious women, The Confessions of X tells the story of Augustine of Hippo's nameless lover, their relationship before his famous conversion, and her life after his rise to fame.  A tale of womanhood, faith, and class at the end of antiquity.  It is a timeless story of love and loss in the shadow of a theological giant.


    Purchase Suzanne Wolfe's book here

  • LUTHER ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

    Click here for May 2017 review


    Martin Luther's historical significance can hardly be overstated.  Know as the father of the Protestant Reformation, few figures have had a greater impact on Western Christianity.  This book will help modern readers go deeper in their spiritual walk by learning from one of the great teachers of the faith.


    Purchase Carl Truman's book here.

  • pure pleasure: why do Christians feel so bad about feeling so good

    Click here for April 2017 review


    Shake off the shackles of misunderstanding about sin and build a life of holy pleasure that will nurture your relationships, protect your spiritual integrity, and energize your worship!  Thomas provides spiritual insights, a theological framework, and practical exercises that will help you approach life in Christ with new wonder and joy.


    Purchase Gary Thomas' book here.

  • Embracing the Body

    Click here for March 2017 review


    In Embracing the Body, Tara Owens calls us to listen to our thoughts about our bodies in a manner that brings us closer to God. Are your thoughts about your body shameful? Painful? Or seemingly too private to bring in prayer? Then you may need to think about your earthly temple in a new way. She guides you to see your body not as an inconvenience but as a place to meet the holy and embrace God's intention for you. Exercises are included at the end of each chapter for reflection and exploration.


    Purchase  Tara M. Owen's book here

  • Getting the REformation wrong: correcting some misunderstandings

    Click here for February 2017 review


    The Reformation did not unfold in the straightforward, monolithic fashion some may think.  It was, in fact, a great big mess of cultural upheaval.  Interacting with the most current Reformation scholarship, James R. Payton exposes, challenges and corrects, the common misrepresentations, assumptions, people have developed about the Reformation.


    Purchase Payton's book here

  • The Life of the Mind: A Christian Perspective

    Click here for January 2017 review


    Do purely intellectual pursuits have a purpose in the lives of Christians? Should Christians study subjects that have little bearing on their future careers and ministry? According to Clifford Williams, the answer to both of these questions is yes. To support this view, Williams, a veteran professor of philosophy, offers an examination of the life of the mind. Christians who cultivate the life of the mind read, think, experiment, and engage in discussions. They are interested in the acquisition of knowledge that is both unrelated and directly related to their faith. Williams answers common objections to such activities, describes the virtues of the person who engages in the life of the mind, and asserts that the life of the mind is justifiably a Christian calling.


    Purchase Clifford William's book here

  • The Gospel According to Starbucks

    Click here for December 2016 review


    You don't stand in line at Starbucks just to buy a cup of coffee. You stop for the experience surrounding the cup of coffee. Too many of us line up for God out of duty or guilt. We completely miss the warmth and richness of the experience of living with God. If we'd learn to see what God is doing on earth, we could participate fully in the irresistible life that he offers. 


    Purchase Leonard Sweet's book here

  • Subverted: How i helped the sexual revolution hijack the women's movement

    Click here for November 2016 review


    The thirst for truth, integrity, and justice for women that led Browder into journalism in the first place eventually led her to find forgiveness and freedom in the place she least expected to find them. Her in-depth research, her probing analysis, and her honest self-reflection set the record straight and illumine a way forward for others who have suffered from the unholy alliance between the women’s movement and the sexual revolution.


    Purchase Sue Ellen Browder's book here

  • Saving the bible from ourselves: leadering to read & live the bible well

    Click here for October 2016 review


    In these pages Paauw introduces us to seven new (to us) understandings of the Bible as steps on the path to recovering one deeply engaged Bible. With each "new" Bible presented, deficiencies in how we currently interact with the Bible are explored, followed by recommendations for a new practice. The Bible's transformative power is recovered when we remove the chains Christians have applied to it over the centuries. The Bible does not need to be saved because of any defect in itself, but because we have distorted and misread it. Saving the Bible from Ourselves provides students of the Bible a new paradigm for reading and living the Bible well.


    Purchase Glenn R. Paauw's book here

  • Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither

    Click here for September 2016 review


    Is Genesis properly understood as history, fiction, or something else? Comparing and contrasting three predominant interpretive genres, James Hoffmeier, Gordon Wenham, and Kenton Sparks make a case for Genesis as theological history; proto-history; and ancient historiography respectively. In point/counterpoint arguments they defend their positions and provide examples of each conclusion's implications for biblical understanding.


    Purchase James K. Hoffmeier, Gordon J. Wenham & Kenton K. Sparks' book here.

  • Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America

    Click here for August 2016 review


    A profound influence on 20th-century evangelicalism, Francis Schaeffer was a Christian apologist, a political activist, an author, and an intellectual mentor. What forces shaped this young fundamentalist American pastor into the founder of L'Abri, a European community that welcomed existentialists, evangelicals, and radicals? Drawing extensively from primary sources, Hankins's appreciative biography reveals a complex, flawed, and ultimately prophetic figure.


    Purchase Barry Hankin's book here

  • Counterfeit Christianity: The Persistence of Errors in the Church

    Click here for June 2016 review


    In Counterfeit Christianity, Roger Olson describes the curses but also gifts that heresies bring the Church. While heresies can occasionally correct a version of orthodoxy, they are not simple confusions or misunderstandings about impenetrable mysteries of divine revelation. Instead they undermine the faith and are dangerous distortions. The author describes major heresies and how the church dealt with them, the players, and what pastors can do to address these faith issues in order to educate congregations about Jesus, God, and salvation.


    Purchase Roger E. Olson's book here

  • Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between sexuality and Spirituality

    Click here for May 2016 review


    Sex God is an enlightening exploration of sexuality and spirituality. With profound beauty and insight, Bell addresses the truism that we can’t talk about ourselves as sexual beings without asking who made us that way. For progressive Christians and readers who enjoy the writings of Donald Miller, N.T. Wrighter, Brian McLaren and Timothy Keller, Rob Bell is a pioneer among those seeking a new kind of Christian teaching.


    Purchase Rob Bell's book here

  • Understanding the Trinity

    Click here for April 2016 review


    Beginning with the current skepticism about God's very existence. Dr. McGrath starts off with some convincing apologetics. This alone makes the book quite compelling. But McGrath is not a mere apologist, he is a theologian. He knows that the only way to be sure about the living God is to encounter him: and this can happen to people who know alm0ost nothing about him. 


    McGrath then develops a number of models which help us to form some conception of God, leading to an important chapter on God as personal. An insightful chapter on the Incarnation follows, with some very straight talk to theologians who try to dispense with the deity of Jesus while making it clear that Jesus does not exhaustively define God, but is one person of the Trinity.


    Purchase Alister E. McGrath's book here

  • In the presence of my enemies

    Click here for March 2016 review


    On May 27, 2001, missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham were taken hostage by terrorists. A year later, Gracia was rescued by a helicopter, but Martin with "angel's wings." Gracia's riveting account tells about their ordeal; their relationship with each other and God; the actions of the governments involved; their captors' trial; and more.


    Purchase Gracia Burnham's book here

  • Divine Sex: A compelling vision for Christian relationship in a hypersexualized age

    Click here for February 2016 review


    In Divine Sex, Jonathan Grant offers a persuasive Christian vision of sex and relationships, calling young adults to faithful discipleship in a hypersexualized world. Drawing from his pastoral experience with young people and from cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines, Jonathan Grant helps Christian leaders understand the cultural forces that make the church's teaching on sex and relationships ineffective in the lives of today's young adults. He also sets forth pastoral strategies for addressing the underlying fault lines in modern sexuality.


    Purchase Jonathan Grant's book here

  • How to be Evangelical without being Conservative

    Click here for January 2016 review


    Many people equate evangelical Christianity with conservatism in religion, politics, theology and social attitudes. Some are scandalized by any separation between them. As one evangelical pastor's wife declared to a church group 'We are a conservative people!' In fact, however, evangelicals have not always been conservative; radical stances on doctrines, worship, social norms, politics and church leadership have often marked evangelicalism in the past. The 2007 movie Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce's protracted battle against the slave trade featured a small group of British evangelicals committed to abolition. The same radicalism characterized much of American evangelicalism in the years before the Civil War. In recent years the American media have portrayed the evangelical movement as a conservative force in society sometimes equating it with fundamentalism and puritanism. The missing piece of the story is, however, that both fundamentalism and puritanism contained radical elements that opposed the status quo. This book sets forth evidence that the link between evangelicalism and conservatism has not always been as strong as it is today in the popular mind and it will provide suggestions for contemporary evangelicals who want to remain evangelical (and not become 'post-evangelical') without identifying with conservatism in every way.


    Purchase Roger E. Olson's book here

  • 60 people who shaped the church

    Click here for November 2015 review


    Christian doctrines didn't appear out of thin air. They were fought over and debated by passionate people! Offering inspiring biographical sketches of those who played pivotal roles---including Josephus, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Galileo, John Calvin, Fanny Crosby, G.K. Chesterton, and others---Gansky reveals the church's past and encourages us to shape its future.


    Purchase Alton Gansky's book here

  • The search for god and GUINNESS: a biography of the beer that changed the world

    Click here for October 2015 review


    The Guinness tale began in the late 1700s when water in Ireland was rancidly undrinkable leaving the Irish to consume only cheap gin and whiskey. When Christians like Arthur Guinness began brewing beer that provided a healthier alternative to the putrid waters and hard alcohol of the time, a new business was birthed. Now a beloved global brand in 150 countries and one of the most consumed beverages in the world, the Guinness establishment continues to craft its hallowed beer, while remaining one of the most socially responsible businesses in the world. Catch the true events behind the Guinness story in Stephen Mansfield's informative new biography!


    Purchase Stephen Mansfield's book here

  • the confessions of st. augustine

    Click here for September 2015 review


    One of the most moving diaries ever recorded of a man's journey to the fountain of God's grace---now in contemporary English! Writing as a sinner not as a saint, Augustine shares his innermost thoughts and conversion experiences, wrestling with spiritual questions that have stirred thoughtful hearts since time began.


    Purchase Saint Augustine's book here