New Books Across My Desk (May 2012)

By Matt Dabbs

By Edward Fudge

Now and then, I like to share notes with you about new books delivered to my mailbox, by authors in the gracEmail “family” and authors who are not. These were all donated to me by either the author, editor, or the publisher. No one gained any advantage for that reason.

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When they sensed God’s call in the 1960s to pack up their five children and move to Ghana, West Africa to preach the gospel, Harold and Jane Ann Derr thought they were taking a big step into a journey of faith. And so they were. But that was nothing compared to the journey they were required to navigate forty years later when Harold was diagnosed with cancer in multiple parts of his body. The story is sad but far from morbid–it is finally a story of God’s peace through a surrendered heart. Jane tells it all in God’s House! Beautiful! Let’s Go!, by Jane Ann Derr (Xulon, 2011, 183 pages).

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Most Protestant denominations in America are in decline, and often for the same reasons–some reflecting societal changes, others particular to specific declining groups. In What Must the Church of Christ Do to be Saved?, author-preacher-historian-philosopher-reformer Dr. Leroy Garrett, now in his 90s, reflects on patternism, faith and opinion, exclusivism, worship, fatal error, responsible change, and much more. (Nevada Publications, 2011, 128 pages). To order, call publisher at 775-747-0800

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Grace Communion International (GCI) is the magnificent “butterfly” that emerged from the cocoon after the gospel-based metamorphosis of the old Worldwide Church of God. The WCG taught conditional immortality as a core doctrine; GCI is officially open on the topic of hell. GCI pastor Roger Galstad restudied the biblical material for himself when writing a dissertation, which he has admirably rewritten in popular form as Man’s Ignorance and God’s Grace: A Case for Conditional Immortality (Trinity Press Publishing, 2012, 170 pages). The suggestion that those who die now never having encountered Christ in the gospel will be given that opportunity later is not held by most conditionalists, including me–although I certainly could wish that to be true.

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Most Bible translations in America include English-language stylists but Greek and Hebrew scholars do the heavy work. The Voice: New Testament is different. It includes the linguists, but intentionally leans on writers, musicians, poets and other artists. This New Testament even looks different–dialogue is indicated by speaker, as in a screenplay script. It also seeks to retain the “voice” of each biblical author. A Houston-based project, these guys–David Capes at Houston Baptist University, Chris Seay at Ecclesia Church, Sean Palmer–are my buddies! I wish them well! (Thomas Nelson, 2011.)

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What is the Bible? In Biblical Inspiration and the Formation of the New Testament Canon (Nevada Publications, 2012, 282 pages), longtime friend Stanley W. Paher begins with the premise that “Scripture is the highest expression of God’s word . . . and a comprehensive and all-sufficient guide for salvation.” That does not require “infallible word-for-word transmission of the Bible text from the Holy Spirit to . . . writing prophets and apostles,” says Paher, because “God’s inbreathing impressed the final product of Scripture.” This assures us that the biblical authors “were indeed witnesses to the truth.” We can fairly say that Stanley urges a very “high view” of the Bible, expressed in language it uses itself, without invoking terminology it never uses but often at the heart of modern debate.

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Children’s New Testament (2011) is not a paraphrase but an actual translation from the original Greek (UBS/Nestle-Aland 27th ed., LXX). First published in 2006 by World Bible Translation Center (WBTC) as the Easy-to-Read Version for ESL students, children and other new English readers, this simplified English New Testament includes a brief Bible dictionary, introduction to each book, a summary of the whole Bible story, and 22 pictures. Co-published by WBTC and Leafwood Publishers.

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The words “centered” and “centering” are buzz words in contemplative spirituality today, and we had as well appropriate them in biblical ways for Christian use. The notion turns out to be eminently biblical as in Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible which consists of 22 stanzas, every line of each stanza beginning with one particular character of the Hebrew alphabet from the first stanza (Aleph) to the last (Tau). In Discovering Your Spiritual Center: The Power of Psalm 119 (Leafwood, 2011, 209 pages), musician/worship leader and author David Teems combines concept and content. First, he shows the importance of a center life, then, in what he calls “Strategy 119,” he leads the reader through “The 22 Days” of mental re-orientation based on the ancient psalm. I hope to give this a try myself.

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While less important than godliness, says the apostle Paul to Timothy, physical fitness is also profitable. And surely it is even more valuable when based on godly principles–which John M. Rowley offers in The Power of Positive Fitness: Maximizing Physical, Mental & Spiritual Health (Leafwood, 2011, 283 pages). First, you seek out the purpose in your life, then work through a “Lifestyle Restoration Cycle,” leading to a plan that results in “transformation.” I need to do this, also . . . but where will I find the time?

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In his earlier book, Costly Grace, Jon Walker interprets and updates Bonhoeffer’s classic, The Cost of Discipleship. Now, In Visible Fellowship is Walker’s similar repackaging of Bonhoeffer’s <i>Life Together</i> (Leafwood, 2011, 175 pages). Walker is an associate pastor serving with Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in California and former editor-in-chief of LifeWays Home-Life Magazine. These two Walker books could be subtitled “Reflections on Bonhoeffer’s Reflections on the Words and Teachings of Jesus” (my thanks to Vernard Eller’s idea in A Simple Life, subtitled “Reflections on Kierkegaard’s Reflections on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount”).

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I close with what is undeniably the best bargain in this list — for 99 cents you get the Kindle version of a thrilling missionary biography, in Foy Short: A Life in Southern Africa, by Gardner Hall (Port Murray, N.J.: Mount Bethel Publishing, 2012, $10.95 printed book, 235 pages). Taken to Africa as an infant in 1921 by parents Will and Delia Short (who would serve God there for 60 years), Foy came to the USA for college at Abilene Christian. After graduating, he helped his new brother-in-law (and best friend) start North Alabama Bible School, then he returned to Africa with his American wife Margaret to spend his own working life “in the establishment of independent, autonomous congregations.” The Shorts faced lions and snakes, witch doctors and terrorists–but God delivered them from all these and more. I am humbled and honored to call Will and Delia Short my grandparents, Foy and his wife Margaret my uncle and aunt, Foy’s sister Sybil my mother, and his best friend, Bennie Lee Fudge my father.

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UPCOMING: Stay tuned for an exciting announcement of my Mother’s memoirs–600 pages of adventure, danger, and human drama played out in seven distinct stages on two sides of the globe! Plus a new book by her son, and a first book by his daughter! Three generations of authors publishing almost simultaneously! How often does that happen in the history of the world?

Copyright 2012 by Edward Fudge. You are urged to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail, but only in its entirety, without change and without financial profit.

categoria commentoNo Comments dataDecember 9th, 2013
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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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