Review – Knowing Christ Today by Dallas Willard

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Book description:

A Compelling Defense of the Faith for Our Time

Addressing the central question facing the church today—Is the Gospel true?—Dallas Willard offers an impassioned argument that Christian spiritual ideals are a reliable source of wisdom that should be granted the same authority as other intellectual disciplines such as science or philosophy. He shows how faith and reason are complementary and confronts the difficult issues of Christian pluralism (the challenge of other faiths) and how we can know God exists.

Dallas Willard goes straight to the point and opens the book with a question, Can faith ever be knowledge?  He takes the first chapters of the book to share his perceptions about knowledge, about institutions of knowledge such universities and the church and their relation to the christian faith. There are several concepts like knowledge, belief, commitment and profession which are important to identify since are used throughout the rest of the book. According to Willard:

We have knowledge of something when we are representing it (thinking about it, speaking of it, treating it) as it actually is, on an appropriate basis of thought and experience. p.15 – Dallas Willard

The central part of the book deals with the existence of God. And it deserves special attention since its easy to get lost among many explanations and theories. Almost every time something becomes difficult to grasp for the average person (like me) Willard gives a practical example with things from daily life. At this point it’s easy to understand why Willard took his time to elaborate the foundation in the first chapters. It was funny to find this ‘disclaimer’ at the beginning of the book:

I should alert the readers to the fact that this is not a devotional book and that it will require considerable mental effort to understand. p. 10 – Dallas Willard

The book closes with a practical aspect for every believer. There are some advises given by Willard on how we can develop our relationship with Jesus as a means to prove his knowledge by acquaintance position. Experience is the only way we get to know not only about Jesus but Jesus himself.

Knowledge is interactive relationship, and grace is God acting in our lives. p.161 – Dallas Willard

Finally the last chapter is an invitation to the spokespeople for Christ or ‘pastors’ to grow in the knowledge of Christ, but also to share that knowledge to others, and fulfill Christ’s calling to make disciples.

Conclusion

I recommend this book to those who are specifically interested on the matter of knowledge or apologetics. As Willard said this is not a devotional book and it requires full focus from the reader. If you like C.S. Lewis I dare to say you’ll like Knowing Christ Today by Dallas Willard.

Rating:

I received this book for free from HarperOne for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Review – Know the Creeds and Councils by Justin S. Holcomb

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Book description:

In every generation, the Christian church must interpret and restate its bedrock beliefs, answering the challenges and concerns of the day. This accessible overview walks readers through centuries of creeds, councils, catechisms, and confessions—not with a dry focus on dates and places, but with an emphasis on the living tradition of Christian belief and why it matters for our lives today. As a part of the KNOW series, Know the Creeds and Councils is designed for personal study or classroom use, but also for small groups and Sunday schools wanting to more deeply understand the foundations of the faith. Each chapter covers a key statement of faith and includes a discussion of its historical context, a simple explanation of the statement’s content and key points, reflections on contemporary and ongoing relevance, and discussion questions.

A couple of days ago I posted a review for Justin S. Holcomb‘s Know the Heretics, a historical book about the most important heresies in church history. After I finished I started with Know the Creeds and Councils, another book that’s part of the same series.

Holcomb follows a similar formula with both books. He starts by stating the importance to know the creeds and councils throughout history to our lives as christians but also defining the meaning of each of these concepts to those who aren’t familiar with them.

The chapters follow a chronological order but not a categorical order as they not only present creeds or councils but also catechisms or confessions. Because this is not meant to be a comprehensive source each chapter is presented in a similar fashion than in Know the Heretics: historical background, content and contemporary relevance. Some of the topics you’ll find are:

  • The Apostles Creed
  • Council of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed
  • Council of Chalcedon
  • Heidelberg Catechism
  • Westminister Confession of Faith

I struggled big time finishing this book, later when I was finished I formulated this theory: many of the information I found in this book is the same I read in Know the Heretics, and while is totally normal, it makes reading a little bit tiring if you read both books at the same time like me.

I don’t mean to minimize the importance of this book, and I don’t want to make it look less important than its brother. I totally recommend to read both books as they complement each other giving a better picture at the changes in church history but also at the relevance of our beliefs in our present.

Rating: 

I received this book for free from the Booklook Bloggers program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Prayer: Why Our Words to God Matter by Corey Russell (Audiobook)

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Did you know the ministry that Jesus has in heaven at this moment is intercession? Jesus is an intercessor, and all believers are invited to share this high calling in Christ. In Prayer: Why Our Words to God Matter, Corey Russell invites you to embrace this identity in a fresh way, showing us from the Bible, from history, and from what God is doing around the world today that our conversation with God really does matter. Corey’s unique perspective teaches us about the dynamic relationship we have with God in prayer. Let this teaching help you on your prayer journey, a journey that if embraced will change your world forever.

I want to start by saying how excited I am to be part of the launch team by Forerunner Publishing. They’re the International House of Prayer own publishing division and the first book I received was Corey Russell‘s last book called Prayer: Why our words to God matter in audiobook format.

After reading The Glory Within, which is another book by Russell about prayer. I wasn’t expecting something really new with this one, but to my surprise, in this new book he takes completely another direction and perspective giving you a fresh teaching in the subject.

About the Content

Talking about the content, first Russell talks about the importance of prayer and intercession in the life of every Christian. What is to be an intercessor? How we see ourselves before God when we pray? How we see God when we pray? Those are some of the questions answered and they serve as a foundation for the rest of the book.

In the middle section there are biblical examples of intercessors, both, from the Old Testament and the New Testament. Russell closes this section with Jesus as our final intercessor before God. With each passage there’s not only a description about the specific role each one of these characters played in their own story but also there’s a list of principles still valuable to our daily lives.

The book closes with revivals around the world that were ignited trough prayer. Although most of these examples are from the States it’s easy to see how each one of the persons involved were devoted to prayer.

About the Audiobook Format

I’m a visual person, I get lost when I only listen to people speaking to me, trying to explain or teach me something. However when I was listening to this audiobook it was clear to me what Russell was talking about. Even though it took me a couple of days to finish it I always knew where I was and where the teaching was going, it was fluid and easy to follow. Not only the chapters, but the general topics and examples were helpful to have a mental picture of names and places.

One of the most important things you want from an audiobook it’s for the narrator to have a clear and attractive voice, and by attractive voice I mean one doesn’t make you feel bored or sleepy. In this case Corey Russell is the one reading the book, and his voice is really clear, giving the right emphasis to the right words.

Conclusion

I’ve followed Corey Russell’s teachings for a while and he’s a favorite of mine, so take these words into consideration, but believe me when I tell you this book should be read by every believer. Prayer may seem a revisited topic by many authors, yet I believe Russell understands a different reality of the importance of prayer that should be embraced in the hearth of every christian.

Rating: 

I received this audiobook for free from Forerunner Publishing for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review – Know the Heretics by Justin S. Holcomb

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Book description:

There is a lot of talk about heresy these days. The frequency and volume of accusations suggest that some Christians have lost a sense of the gravity of the word. On the other hand, many believers have little to no familiarity with orthodox doctrine or the historic distortions of it. What’s needed is a strong dose of humility and restraint, and also a clear and informed definition of orthodoxy and heresy. Know the Heretics provides an accessible “travel guide” to the most significant heresies throughout Christian history. As a part of the KNOW series, it is designed for personal study or classroom use, but also for small groups and Sunday schools wanting to more deeply understand the foundations of the faith. Each chapter covers a key statement of faith and includes a discussion of its historical context; a simple explanation of the unorthodox teaching, the orthodox response and a key defender; reflections of contemporary relevance; and discussion questions.

Last year I started to read about church history, from the Apostles in the book of Acts to the Protestant Reformation. Among Roman emperors, church theology and famous theologians I read a few stuff about heresies in the church so when I saw this book I knew I had to read it.

Know the Heretics its a great book because of mainly two things:

First, Holcomb did a great job reuniting in a small and accessible volume the main heresies of church history. You will find some that may be known to you like the old teachings of the Judaizers. But there are also other beliefs that were held by other religious figures like Mani, who believed he was the promised Paraclete. Or those who followed the Docetism movement, and believed Jesus was fully divine while he was on earth and his physical being was just an appearance.

Being a short book, each chapter presents a single heretic and it’s divided presenting its historical background, the heretical teaching, the orthodox response and the contemporary relevance.

And second, one of the conclusions I came up after reading and learning some church history is that you get to value and to understand something even more when you get identified with its past. Knowing more about church as the body of Christ and even knowing about the heresies in its past will make you be grateful with God and with those who fought for what was right. This book does an excellent at not only describing and giving you historical facts, but also telling you the importance for you to know such information.

I recommend this book not only for those looking to learn a good lesson about history but also to those willing to stand for what is right by getting to know the heroes of our past.

Rating: 

I received this book for free from the Booklook Bloggers program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Review – Recovering Redemption by Matt Chandler & Michael Snetzer

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You can’t. God can.
Life never lacks for improvement—in ourselves, in our relationships, in just about everything. But all our brave stabs at getting better, if they ever change anything, are incomplete at best, complete failures at worst. Sometimes much worse.

Unless . . .

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the great “unless” of life—both for those who already believe (but can’t believe the messes they’re still capable of making), as well as those who don’t yet believe but just know their way isn’t working.

After reading, actually after listening to The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, it was an easy choice to read Recovering Redemption, even though this one is co-authored by Michael Snetzer. But after I started to read the first chapters, I wasn’t sure my choice was actually a good one.

Don’t get me wrong, I did like the book content and the overall message, but I struggled with the way some chapters were written. It felt strange to read and suddenly find notes about who was speaking or why one of them was speaking. It hindered, at least to me, the flow of the reading and I found it odd at times.

Besides this little issue, I found the book a very needed tool to christians and non-christians alike. This book doesn’t deal with a specific problem or adiction, it doesn’t have specific suggestions or ways to avoid certain issues. I realized this book deals with the  identity we have as sons and daughters of God, the same identity we overlook most of the times.

The premise of Recovering Redemption is to help you rediscover with “a gospel saturated perspective” the true nature in you in order to change. To make it easy to follow the whole idea through the book, the first half is dedicated to describe different theological concepts, such the doctrine of justification or sanctification. If you’re willing to be patient and to wait until the ‘practical’ side of the book arrive, you’ll be thankful.

The second half of the book deals with real life experiences, and real life actions and conclusions related with guilt, shame, fear and anxiety. At the end the change doesn’t happen beyond the will of the reader. Chandler and Snetzer don’t focus on something in particular, so it doesn’t matter what is the problem or issue you want to change, this book not only will give you hope, but a gospel-saturated approach to solve it.

Rating: 

I received this e-book for free from B & H Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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