On the Road With Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts (James K.A. Smith); Bearing God's Name: Why Sinai Still Matters (Carmen Joy Imes); The Theology of Benedict XVI: A Protestant Appreciation (Ed. Tim Perry); Utterly Obedient to a Mystery (Fiona Moes Pel); Wherever She Goes: A Novel (K.L. Armstrong)
On the Road With Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts
By James K.A. Smith
Brazos Press, 2019. $20 (e-book $14.74, audio $23). Preview at Amazon.ca and Books.Google.ca
SAINT AUGUSTINE meets us on a road fraught with difficult and tempting terrain. He has sojourned the way before us and now offers, via the compelling style of James Smith, an answer to the question, "What if I went home?"
James Smith is a Canadian-born philosopher and theologian known for his contributions to liturgical formation in a secular society. He currently holds the Gary and Henrietta Chair of Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview at Calvin University in Michigan, and is chief editor of Image journal.
Smith’s book is not really about the 4th century African bishop named Augustine, he says in his introduction. Instead Smith uses this "ancient ethnographer" to invite readers to consider our journey between right now and resurrection. Smith shares Augustine’s wisdom on "journey detours" such as freedom, ambition and sex. Augustine’s story becomes a sort of compass that orients us toward resurrection life.
Readers are invited to consider the struggles Augustine confessed to on the way toward his ultimate destination – to rest and be satisfied in God. And ultimately this book is an invitation to rest. It doesn’t promise success or a positive attitude change. Instead it anticipates the reader’s manifold failures in our own journeys toward God.
If you have ever been haunted by your failures to follow Jesus well, this book is for you – for Christians who feel their endurance has waned, their strength has broken and their hope is fleeting. At its core it offers nourishment for weary travellers.
As we pursue the likeness of Christ, it is easy to conclude that "The road is life." Smith offers a compelling summary of Augustine’s faith that welcomes us home, even if that home isn’t here. –JESSE KANE
Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters
By Carmen Joy Imes
InterVarsity Press, 2019. $25 (e-book $15, audio $20). Preview at Amazon.ca and Books.Google.ca
CAN YOU recall watching a child unwrap a gift at Christmas? That’s how I felt reading this book – surprise and wonder.
Carmen Imes speaks not only to those with a less polished education (such as my own), but also to those with more extensive training. Her students at Prairie College in Alberta, where she is an associate professor of Old Testament, must love her.
Half this book focuses on the Old Testament and half links it to the New Testament. The book centres around revisiting the commandment of "not taking the Lord’s name in vain." Imes seeks to reposition our lens to better view this commandment with its original intent and language in mind.
She suggests this commandment could be better translated "to bear His name and live life so as it’s not lived in vain." Not only does Imes do an excellent job of unwrapping this, she pulls into clarity how Israel’s calling, from the beginning, was to live as a nation set apart, for God only. That calling was continually highlighted and emphasized through the disciples and Jesus into the New Testament.
Having journeyed through her pages, I have new tools I can pull from my tool belt as I continue feeding on God’s Word.
I readily recommend this book, especially to those who love learning. I read the first few chapters so voraciously, I had to slow down and digest. It was water to my thirsty soul. –LAUREN ROTH
The Theology of Benedict XVI: A Protestant Appreciation
Edited by Tim Perry
Lexham Press, 2019. $25 (e-book $17.99)
POPE BENEDICT XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) is now pope emeritus, but has long been a significant Catholic scholar.
This book, edited by Tim Perry (adjunct professor of theology at Saint Paul University in Ottawa), is meant to provide a way for non-Catholics to listen to and correct common misunderstandings about Pope Benedict and the Catholic faith.
The book consists of 15 essays that overview and critique different aspects of Benedict’s theology, touching on topics such as how the Church can (or should) engage with our secular world, how to read and interpret Scripture, why Mary is important, why priests are important, even why liturgy is important in worship.
These essays help the reader understand Pope Benedict’s theology while also reflecting on how this can apply to Evangelicals today. The authors are all Protestants who come from a variety of denominations (from Southern Baptist to Anglican). In each essay there is a critical response by the author from a Protestant perspective to aid in understanding certain places where it is important to remain critical while seeking to listen graciously.
If you are curious about the differences (and similarities) between Catholics and Protestants, want to hear more about Pope Benedict XVI, or perhaps just want to learn a bit more about what Catholics believe, this book is an excellent option. Written by Protestants for Protestants, about a Catholic Pope. It’s a great contribution to any theological library. –NATHAN SCOTT
Utterly Obedient to a Mystery, (watercolour on clay panel, 11″ × 14″) by Fiona Moes Pel. www.FionaMoesPel.com.
"The ordinary rhythms of our everyday lives are oriented around the passing of time, the rising and falling of light. It is Christ’s light that illuminates the steps of our ordinary lives, transforming the work of our hands. This artwork is part of an ongoing body of work that explores our embodied experience of the ephemeral relationship between light and time."