Books & Bibliography or Materialistic Monism or Religion Under the Lens
John Stott (IVP Books: Jan 30, 2007), 168 pages.
Stott's Basic Christianity is a very practical, easy-to-read introduction to the Christian life. Who is God? Who is Christ? What is sin? What does being a Christian mean? These are all very basic, fundamental questions that are answered in a no-nonsense, straightforward way. For those who have been Christians for some time, it is always good to review the basic fundamentals. Sometimes you see things possibly in a way that you never did before. Stott's explanation of the Ten Commandments and their application is by itself worth the price of the book. Basic Christianity is a small book, but loaded with helpful information. ~ A. Wolverton @ Amazon.com
Alister E. McGrath (IVP Books: Jan 20, 2007), 155 pages.
We live in a culture that doubts everything as a matter of principle. In such an environment, how can even faith be immune to doubt? Can I really trust in the gospel? Does God really love me? Can I really be of any use to God? We are taught to doubt but commanded to believe. Somehow we think that admitting to doubt is tantamount to insulting God. But doubt is not a sign of spiritual weakness — rather it's an indication of spiritual growing pains. Alister McGrath, no stranger to a faith born of doubt, here offers good news to doubters: your faith can grow, and strengthen as it grows. It needs to take root in your experience of God, it needs to take in the nourishment of instruction in the words and ways of God, it needs to be stretched into greater obedience to the commands and calling of God — but it can grow beyond doubt into a thriving relationship. ~ Product Description
Joseph Ratzinger and Jürgen Habermas (Ignatius Press: Jan 10, 2007), 85 pages.
Two of the worlds great contemporary thinkers — theologian and churchman Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and Jürgen Habermas, philosopher and Neo-Marxist social critic — discuss and debate aspects of secularization, and the role of reason and religion in a free society. These insightful essays are the result of a remarkable dialogue between the two men, sponsored by the Catholic Academy of Bavaria, a little over a year before Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope. Jürgen Habermas has surprised many observers with his call for "the secular society to acquire a new understanding of religious convictions", as Florian Schuller, director of the Catholic Academy of Bavaria, describes it his foreword. Habermas discusses whether secular reason provides sufficient grounds for a democratic constitutional state. Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI argues for the necessity of certain moral principles for maintaining a free state, and for the importance of genuine reason and authentic religion, rather than what he calls "pathologies of reason and religion", in order to uphold the states moral foundations. Both men insist that proponents of secular reason and religious conviction should learn from each other, even as they differ over the particular ways that mutual learning should occur. ~ Product Description
Julian Baggini (Oxford University Press: December 2006), 224 pages.
What is the meaning of life? It is a question that has intrigued the great philosophers — and has been hilariously lampooned by Monty Python. Indeed, the whole idea strikes many of us as vaguely pompous and perhaps more than a little absurd. Is there one profound answer, an ultimate purpose behind human existence? Julian Baggini thinks not. Rather, as Baggini argues in What's It All About, meaning can be found in a variety of ways. He succinctly breaks down six answers people commonly suggest when considering what life is all about—helping others, serving humanity, being happy, becoming successful, enjoying each day as if it were your last, and "freeing your mind." By reducing the vague, mysterious question of "meaning" to a series of more specific (if unmysterious) questions about what gives life purpose and value, he shows that the quest for meaning can be personal, empowering, and uplifting. Illustrating his argument with the thoughts of many of the great philosophers and examples drawn from everyday life, Baggini convincingly shows that the search for meaning is personal and within the power of each of us to find. ~ Product Description
Nick Trakakis (Springer: Nov 29, 2006), 276 pages.
Why would a loving God who is all-powerful and all-knowing create a world like ours which is marred by all manner of evil, suffering and injustice? This question has come to be known as ‘the problem of evil’ and has troubled both ordinary folk and specialist philosophers and theologians for centuries, with no answer seemingly in sight. However, in a series of publications from the late 1970s onwards, Professor William Rowe – one of the leading philosophers of religion today – has put forward a powerful case in support of the view that the horrors littering our planet constitute strong evidence against the existence of God. In this book, the first extended study of Rowe’s defense of atheism on the basis of evil, Nick Trakakis comprehensively assesses the large body of literature that has developed in response to Rowe’s work, paying particular attention to two strategies employed by critics: firstly, the appeal to mystery – the idea that God may well have reasons for permitting evil that lie beyond our comprehension; and secondly, the appeal to theodicies, where this involves offering explanations as to why God allows evil to abound in his creation (free will theodicies, for example, argue that God could not prevent us from acting wrongly without at the same time curtailing or removing our free will). Trakakis unearths significant difficulties in both strategies, and concludes that – absent any evidence in support of theism – the God of theism must be judged to be "beyond belief". ~ Product Description
Harry G. Frankfurt (Knopf: October 2006), 112 pages.
Having outlined a theory of bullshit and falsehood, Harry G. Frankfurt turns to what lies beyond them: the truth, a concept not as obvious as some might expect. Our culture's devotion to bullshit may seem much stronger than our apparently halfhearted attachment to truth. Some people (professional thinkers) won't even acknowledge "true" and "false" as meaningful categories, and even those who claim to love truth cause the rest of us to wonder whether they, too, aren't simply full of it. Practically speaking, many of us deploy the truth only when absolutely necessary, often finding alternatives to be more saleable, and yet somehow civilization seems to be muddling along. But where are we headed? Is our fast and easy way with the facts actually crippling us? Or is it "all good"? Really, what's the use of truth, anyway? With the same leavening wit and commonsense wisdom that animates his pathbreaking work On Bullshit, Frankfurt encourages us to take another look at the truth: there may be something there that is perhaps too plain to notice but for which we have a mostly unacknowledged yet deep-seated passion. His book will have sentient beings across America asking, "The truth—why didn't I think of that?" ~ Product Description
Joseph Ratzinger and Ryan J. Dermot (Ignatius Press: Oct 30, 2006), 169 pages.
What are the obstacles that hinder modern men, women, and children from hearing and embracing the Gospel? Are science, technology, and mass media at odds with Christianity? Are new teaching methods helping to solve the crisis in catechesis or making matters worse? How can the Church do a better job of handing on her precious patrimony to subsequent generations? To address these provocative questions, some of the great churchmen of our times, including Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the man who would become Pope Benedict XVI, gathered in France in 1983 for two important conferences. Handing on the Faith in an Age of Disbelief brings together the four illuminating lectures presented at those meetings, along with commentaries by Pierre Eyt, Bernard Bro, O.P., Georges Bonnet, and Jacques Guillet, S.J. Also included is a candid interview with the then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger about the pressing problems associated with teaching the faith. ~ Product Description
John Stott, 20th Anniversary Edition (InterVarsity Press: Sep 30, 2006), 380 pages.
I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. ... In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?" With compelling honesty John Stott confronts this generation with the centrality of the cross in God's redemption of the world — a world now haunted by the memories of Auschwitz, the pain of oppression and the specter of nuclear war. Can we see triumph in tragedy, victory in shame? Why should an object of Roman distaste and Jewish disgust be the emblem of our worship and the axiom of our faith? And what does it mean for us today? Now from one of the foremost preachers and Christian leaders of our day comes theology at its readable best, a contemporary restatement of the meaning of the cross. At the cross Stott finds the majesty and love of God disclosed, the sin and bondage of the world exposed. More than a study of the atonement, this book brings Scripture into living dialogue with Christian theology and the twentieth century. What emerges is a pattern for Christian life and worship, hope and mission. Destined to be a classic study of the center of our faith, Stott's work is the product of a uniquely gifted pastor, scholar and Christian statesman. His penetrating insight, charitable scholarship and pastoral warmth are guaranteed to feed both heart and mind. ~ Product Description
Rodney Stark (Random House : September 26, 2006), 304 pages.
It is a commonplace to think of Christianity and rationalism as opposite historical and philosophical forces. In this stimulating and provocative study, Stark (The Rise of Christianity) demonstrates that elements within Christianity actually gave rise not only to visions of reason and progress but also to the evolution of capitalism. Stark contends that Christianity is a forward-looking religion, evincing faith in progress and in its followers' abilities to understand God over time. Such a future-based rational theology has encouraged the development of technical and organizational advances, such as the monastic estates and universities of the Middle Ages. Stark contends that these developments transformed medieval political philosophy so that democracy developed and thrived in those states, such as northern Italy, that lacked despots and encouraged moral equality. Stark concludes by maintaining that Christianity continues to spread in places like Africa, China and Latin America because of its faith in progress, its rational theology and its emphasis on moral equality. While some historians are likely to question Stark's conclusions, his deftly researched study will force them to imagine a new explanation for the rise of capitalism in Western society. ~ Publishers Weekly
Bryan A. Follis (Crossway Books: Sep 22, 2006), 208 pages.
As one who awoke to the intellectual richness and cultural depth of the Christian worldview in the mid-1970s through the writings of evangelist-apologist-activist Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984), I often worry that the next generation will fail to heed the challenge and receive the inspiration Schaeffer gave us through both his writings and his life of discipleship. Truth With Love is thus heartening because it winsomely explains both the rational and the relational apologetic of Francis Schaeffer to those who may not have otherwise heard the good news. This book is a revised doctoral dissertation, but one that succeeds in being both intellectually meaty and existentially appealing to those outside the strictly academic crowd. There are plenty of quotations and footnotes, as well as personal interviews with those who knew Schaeffer well. While such a well-documented book needs an index of names and subjects as well as a bibliography, unfortunately, it has neither. ~ Douglas Groothuis at DenverSeminary.edu.