Friends who know my book-besotted line of work sometimes ask whether I actually read, cover-to-cover, all the volumes that come streaming into my office. I have to suppress a snicker, because that’s a bit like asking whether Alex Trebek knows all the answers on Jeopardy!
Still, I devoured every word of the four finalists for CT’s first-ever Beautiful Orthodoxy book award. (See the results here.) What, you might wonder, is that high-sounding coinage supposed to mean? Think of everything that makes public discourse today a nails-on-chalkboard nightmare: the screaming matches, the hair-trigger outrage, the glib snarking and self-righteous peacocking. You might call “Beautiful Orthodoxy” our shorthand for the opposite of that—for theological, political, and cultural expression that unites truthfulness and loveliness. The way the gospel does.
Plenty of people speak the truth about God and his world, but their manner is abrasive. Others use warm, artful language in the service of half-truths and falsehoods. At CT, we believe in the possibility of truth without ugliness, of beauty without moral and theological squishiness. (Don't take it from me, though. Let editor in chief Mark Galli flesh out our commitment to Beautiful Orthodoxy in this essay and this interview.)
As always, we're pumped about these yearly book awards, when we recognize Christian writers for painstaking research and trenchant analysis, for dazzling prose and arresting imagery. What a testimony to the power of beauty and orthodoxy uniting in a delicious feast. Bon appétit. —Matt Reynolds, associate editor, books
Os Guinness (InterVarsity Press)
"Unlike many apologetics books, Fool’s Talk is not a series of quick-fix answers to questions most folks are no longer asking or one-size-fits-all ‘McTheories’ (Guinness’s term) to be applied to any situation. Rather, Guinness draws upon a lifetime of diverse experience to explore and invite us into the art of ‘creative persuasion.' " —Joshua Ryan Butler, pastor, author of The Skeletons in God’s Closet
(See CT's interview with Os Guinness here.)
Award of Merit
Dallas Willard (HarperOne)
"Of all the apologetics books published in the past year, I would choose The Allure of Gentleness as the one I would most want my graduate students to read, digest, and deeply assimilate. It wonderfully distills the thinking of the late Christian philosopher and has the texture of Pascal’s Pensées in its wisdom and presentation. As you would expect from Willard, it’s a spiritual and apologetic feast all at once." —Craig Hazen, professor of apologetics, Biola University
Craig S. Keener (Baker Academic)
"Keener is a scholar with gifts that come along once every century, and here we see them employed in full force. Words like encyclopedic, magisterial, and epic come to mind when you examine 4,000 carefully argued pages on every aspect of the Book of Acts. Nothing like this has ever been done—and it’s doubtful that anything like it will be done for a long time. Keener has a grasp of the ancient world like few scholars anywhere, but he also has a heart for the church and its mission." —Gary Burge, professor of New Testament, Wheaton College