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REVIEW OF Noll and Nystrom's Clouds of Witnesses Print E-mail
Written by Kevin L. Howard   
 

Clouds of Witnesses: Christian Voices from Africa and Asia by Mark A. Noll and Carolyn Nystrom. Kindle Fire version.

 

Noll and Nystrom bestow a beautiful gift on the church by letting us peek into the lives of a few dead Christians outside the West. They borrow their book title from Hebrews 12:1-2, as many might have guessed. Clouds of Witnesses is a companion to Noll's 2009 book, The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith.

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REVIEW OF DeYoung and Gilbert's What is the Mission of the Church? Print E-mail
Written by Kevin L. Howard   
 

What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission. By Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011, 266 pp., $15.99 paper.

This book faithfully deals with Scripture's main texts relevant to social justice issues. One has to respect the authors' careful exegesis for the question of how the mission of the church and social concerns intersect. They interact with other significant authors like, T. Keller, C. Wright, J. Stott, and R. Stearns, just to name a few. The overall message from DeYoung and Gilbert is that as Christians we can do many good things, but as the gathered church we must not get distracted from the main task. "The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father" (62). In other words, mercy ministries are not equal partners with evangelism and disciple making.
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Academic Wordiness: Humility Meets Clarity Print E-mail
Written by Kevin L. Howard   

The shortest way of saying something is usually the clearest. The goal for Christian writers, especially academic authors, is not to impress but to humbly communicate God's truth. That said, style and humility can be friends. Perhaps a formal introduction is necessary--Mr. Humble meet Mr. Clear. Simplicity often unites these two. Consider John Owen's line, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." It is memorable because it is precise, although he was not always given to such simplicity.

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REVIEW OF S. Allen's Beyond the Sacred-Secular Divide Print E-mail
Written by Kevin L. Howard   
Beyond the Sacred-Secular Divide: A Call to Wholistic Life and Ministry (Kingdom Lifestyle Bible Studies) . By Scott D. Allen. Seattle, Washington: YWAM Publishing, 2011.

 

Scott Allen clearly states what he believes: God is Lord of all and Christians should join the Creator in his big agenda to redeem creation.  This for Allen, president of Disciple Nations Alliance, includes mercy ministries such as caring for the poor.  "Unless ministry to people's physical needs accompanies evangelism and discipleship, our message will be empty, weak, and irrelevant" (p. 60).  In this thin volume, Allen makes solid arguments for believers to live wholistically rather than compartmentalizing their lives into sacred and secular.  Yet even he cannot resist using "secular" at least once (p. 107).

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Allen Yeh, ETS, and Cultural Theology Print E-mail
Written by Kevin L. Howard   
Biola University professor Allen Yeh is uniquely qualified to give us insight here in his blog article "Why Cultural Theology Is Not Relativistic," dated Nov 17, 2010.  He is an American and thus a westerner.  He can critique western ways because he is an insider.  His Asian roots, however, give him extra insight to see some things as an outsider would see them, things that sometimes insiders cannot see about themselves.  So we ought to be able to hear his arguments; he is one of us, after all.  He also has an outstanding educational pedigree so he certainly possesses credibility to address these issues.  On a personal note, he is one of the most enjoyable persons you could ever hope to hang out with.  He is down to earth despite his intellectual ability.
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