Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know
J. I. Packer (Crossway Books)
In 2010, J. I. Packer teamed up with Gary A. Parrett, professor at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, to write Grounded in the Gospel, which called for churches to rejuvenate the art of catechesis (systematic instruction in the essentials of the Christian faith). Now, in Taking God Seriously, Packer has taken the matter into his own hands, going beyond the call for catechesis to give a concrete example of how it's done. Chapters on faith, doctrine, the church, Christian unity, repentance, the Holy Spirit, baptism, and the Lord's Supper bear the author's signature clarity of style and firmness of conviction. Though Packer writes with an eye toward reversing the liberalizing trends within segments of his native Anglicanism, his primer should appeal to committed Christians in many denominations.
Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness
Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson)
George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles Colson are all, to one degree or another, household names. Eric Metaxas wants today's generation of young men to look up to them, not unreasonably, as heroes and role models. In Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, Metaxas, already a biographer of Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer, serves up chapter-length portraits of each of these towering figures.
Despite the men's varied callings and achievements, Metaxas sees an underlying commonality: Each man, in his own way, embodied manhood at its best. Blessed with great powers, they used them not to prey on the weak and vulnerable, but to serve others and further noble causes. They habitually "surrender[ed] themselves to a higher purpose, of giving something away that they might have kept"—political power, athletic glory, the psychic gratification of revenge, even life itself. Only in recovering this Christlike ethic of servant leadership, says Metaxas, can modern manhood rise above the depressing archetypes of domineering bully, emasculated wimp, and hapless sitcom doofus.
Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting
Johnny Carr with Laura Captari (B&H Publishing Group)
In the opening paragraph of Orphan Justice, Johnny Carr invites readers to "imagine children lined up shoulder to shoulder all the way around the earth's equator. Now consider that all of the orphaned kids in the world would not fit in that line. There are too many of them." With approximately 153 million children deprived of one or both parents (according to estimates from UNICEF), adoption alone cannot solve the global orphan crisis. Carr, director of church partnerships at Bethany Christian Services, America's largest adoption and orphan-care agency, asks what else can be done. He pleads for greater attention to the web of injustices that draw orphans ever deeper into misery: issues like sex trafficking, hiv/aids, poverty, racism, horrific orphanage conditions, and abusive foster-care arrangements. Whether Carr's target audience has truly "relegated these social justice issues to the secular world" is at least debatable. But Orphan Justice does a fine job outlining the case that adoption can't be the only arrow in the evangelical quiver.
God's Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty
Rice Broocks (Thomas Nelson)
Many books on apologetics appeal mainly to those who already consider themselves reasonably well-versed in the arguments for (and against) Christianity. Rice Broocks, a pastor in Nashville, focuses instead on equipping ordinary believers who don't aspire to replace William Lane Craig on the debate circuit, but still wish to offer compelling answers to skeptical friends. Broocks radiates hope that every Christian—not just a highly-trained few—can give a reasoned defense of the faith they profess.