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Eight Great Books We Reviewed in 2023

8 Great Books Reviewed in 2023

1. Reading Black Books: How African American Literature Can Make Our Faith More Whole and Just by Claude Atcho

“It appears to me that many White people, even well-educated ones, have little sense of Black experience. They have few (if any) personal friends who are Black, and although they may have cordial work relationships with Black colleagues, they consider it almost a point of honor not to ever ‘notice’ that the colleague is Black, or express interest or concern about Black experience or issues. That would seem to them like prejudice and would make them uncomfortable. Therefore, they carry around the mistaken sense that they more or less understand Black people and experience from passing acquaintances or casual contacts and having read about Brown v. Board of Education in an American history class. Reading Black books, however, will introduce them to an indispensable deepening of their understanding of Black experience, or, more accurately, Black experiences, as everyone has unique experiences….”

(Excerpted from a review by Scott Moncrieff. Read the full review HERE.)

2. Your Daughters Shall Prophesy by Todd Korpi

Although from the beginning Dr. Korpi says the book was not written to prove the Bible supports full equality for men and women in leadership, he still takes some space to deconstruct the main arguments against women’s ordination and shows how the Bible, especially the New Testament, supports women’s equality in ministry. Central to his arguments is the “redemption arc” argument, where Scripture can be viewed as a gradual redeeming of male-female relations leading to the restoration of the full equality established before the Fall. Dr. Korpi sees this arc especially evident in the New Testament writings of Paul where Paul refers to numerous women at all levels of church ministry as co-workers with him….

Women can be called by God to lead at all levels, from President down to deacons or children’s Sunday or Sabbath School teachers. There should be no imposed barriers, and Dr. Korpi includes a series of admonitions to male leaders of the church not to impose or assume what a woman’s calling is, but to listen and advocate for her to identify what God is calling her to do and then to support her in developing that call. This includes men being willing to make space for female leaders, even if it means fewer men in leadership.”

(Excerpted from a review by Bryan Ness. Read the full review HERE.)

3. Hiram Edson: The Man and the Myth by Brian E. Strayer

“It is ironic that a man who had contributed so much to the church in money, time, articles, and miles-walked, died in disrepute. But like Joan of Arc, who was burnt at the stake for heresy and witchcraft, but now is venerated as a Saint, Spalding rehabilitated the ‘confirmed crank’ transforming him into a veritable visionary who saw ‘distinctly and clearly’ sanctuary truths two months before Ellen Harmon saw them only partially and indistinctly.” 

(Excerpted from a review by Donald E. Casebolt. Read the full review HERE.)

4. I’ll See You Tomorrow by Heather Thompson Day and Seth Day 

“From the beginning, co-authors Heather Thompson Day and Seth Day work not to merely instill hope in their readers but to remind them that hope exists as an option. Heather states ‘that life has pages, and pages don’t determine endings’ (13). That said, I’ll See You Tomorrow is not a self-help book…[Instead], both writers are clear: self-reliance is a myth (19). If anything, I’ll See You Tomorrow is a book of petitions. The Days are far from superficial writers–they dig deep, pairing research and biblical counsel with personal anecdotes and gentle, loving reminders. If Heather says, ‘you must,’ it is not written as a command; it is a coaxing, a pleading, towards a better life.”

(Excerpted from a review by Brenna Taitano Read the full review HERE.)

5. Christian Poetry in America Since 1940: An Anthology edited by Micah Mattix and Sally Thomas

“Poetry, like prayer, can be an attempt to transcend the surface reality of the world as we know it to a mysterious meaning beyond. To accomplish this, poets have to be the most imaginatively reckless and, paradoxically, the most careful users of language. They refashion our tired ways of seeing, word by word….In this volume there is free verse and formal verse, poems about whippoorwills, hawks, Eve, geodes, little girls in church, the seven deadly sins, paintings by Millet and Fra Angelico, Amish uncles, Mennonites, seminarians, bees, Flannery O’Connor, Ash Wednesday, and a Japanese Maple in January. In other words, there’s considerable variety in subject matter and treatment, with 127 poems by 35 different poets. Most of the poems are short, with the ‘content’ part of the volume at 193 pages. If you enjoy good writing, you’re sure to find some new favorites here.”

(Excerpted from a review by Scott Moncrieff. Read the full review HERE.)

6. A Supreme Love: The Music of Jazz and the Hope of the Gospel by William Edgar 
“Edgar combines the roles of musicologist, pianist, and theologian in a way that proves illuminating and provocative for both an understanding of jazz and the gospel. Of course, the gospel can be understood without jazz, but Edgar’s contention is that jazz cannot be properly understood and appreciated without seeing how the gospel influenced its origins and development and its message: ‘If jazz aesthetics is the product of deep misery followed by inextinguishable joy, then a principal generator for this aesthetic was the Christian message’ (72). Of course, there are thousands of ‘messages’ that can be derived from the corpus of jazz, but I think Edgar makes an excellent point about a major meaning that can be drawn from the music.”

Excerpted from review by Scott Moncrieff. Read the full review HERE.  

7. Baby Dinosaurs on the Ark? by Janet Kellog Ray

“The central premise of the book is that because most conservative churches consider a literal interpretation of Genesis essential to a belief in God and the validity of Scripture, they set their members up with a stark choice: either believe that the Bible teaches a young earth, literal 7-day creation week, and worldwide flood, …or accept evolution and an old earth and become an atheist. Christians in these churches are told that it is impossible to believe in evolution and a creator God at the same time, and that evolution is just a myth invented by scientists to justify atheism….Ray’s solution to this dilemma is to recognize that it is possible to be both true to the scientific evidence and to the Bible, which requires recognizing the appropriate role for the Genesis account. God speaks to us both through divine revelation and nature, and her contention, much like that of Galileo, is that the Bible is primarily intended to teach us spiritual truths, not scientific or historical truths. Nature itself, through scientific inquiry, speaks to us of God’s work as creator. The Genesis account is simply there to remind us that God is the creator, not how he did the creating, or, for that matter, when he did the creating.”

(Excerpted from a review by Bryan Ness. Read the full review HERE.)

8. Finding Joy: Paul’s Encouraging Message to the Philippians by John Brunt 

“Brunt is to be commended for this most welcome field guide to the letter of Paul to the Philippians. He opens up several important avenues for further exploration of the riches in the text. Among them is the way he links the Christian life to life in society. To have Christ living within does not require that a Christian be withdrawn and reclusive; it should make the believer sensitive to the needs of others. Brunt points out quite effectively that the gospel is non-hierarchical: raceless, genderless, and universal. He emphasizes that the Christian community is one in which everyone is valued and there is ample room for dialogue. Unfortunately in the Adventist Church today, those who serve as teachers in its vast educational system must exercise self-censorship in order to fulfill their vocation as servants of the young. They, at times, feel that they are passive accomplices of theological dictators who pretend to have access to the mind of God. I hope that the publication of Brunt’s book by an official Adventist publishing house signals progress toward a study of the Bible that renders its message relevant to those living in the twenty-first century. The church’s function is not to be the custodian of the past, but the prophet of the present, opening the future for successful Christian living by the power of the gospel that brings life to God’s world.”

(Excerpted from a review by Herold Weiss. Read the full review HERE.)

About the author

Brenna Taitano has a BA in English Language and Literature and minors in history, professional writing, and creative writing from Indiana University Kokomo where she works as a Technical Services Assistant at the library. She covers many topics on Instagram @bookish.brenna and her website, That One Christian Writer Girl.

More from Brenna Taitano.
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