Book Reviews: Questions To All Your Answers

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Questions To All Your Answers: The Journey From Folk Religion to Examined Faith by Roger Olson (Zondervan)

Too many Christians live, breathe and have their being in a world of simplistic slogans, worn-out clichés and bumper-sticker theology. But in one of his latest books, Truett Seminary professor Roger Olson is out to change that.

Believing many evangelical Christians have succumbed to the sloppy thinking of “folk religion,” Olson challenges his fellow believers to heed the guidance of the Apostle Paul, who praised the Bereans for examining his own message through the lens of Scripture.

In 10 chapters, Olson raises questions about 10 popular answers—simplistic sayings that ring true to many people. These supposed answers often resist scrutiny and cut off further thought on the subject.

For example, one chapter examines the idea that “all sins are equal.” But can this be true? Is reusing a stamp really on par with murder? Common sense tells us no, and courts of law agree. Olson’s book pushes us to reconsider such easy answers and offers compelling reasons why having a reflective faith is so crucial. The study questions at the end of each chapter will help guide the lively discussions this book is bound to create in group settings.

Kevin Collison, pastor

First Baptist Church, Eagle Lake

Why Jesus Makes Me Nervous: Ten Alarming Words of Faith by Joy Jordan-Lake (Paraclete Press)

Joy Jordan-Lake, former Baptist chaplain of Harvard University, shares personal stories of warmth and pain, drawing out deep observations of spiritual significance.

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Each of the 10 chapters comments on an important biblical word such as “resurrection,” “community,” “blessedness” and “forgiveness”—concepts taught in seminary classrooms but more meaningfully understood as they have moved from antiseptic abstractions to vivid reality through the “refining fires of real life” experience and encounters with people. Whether describing what it’s like to be a transplanted southerner in Boston or directing a feeding ministry for the homeless, Jordan-Lake’s writing is sprinkled with humor and profound hope.

In the book’s foreword, Tony Campolo reminds us of the importance of story in the Old and New Testaments. God speaks and acts through stories—history. Campolo states, “In the end, all theologies are simply commentaries on the stories.” With this in mind, Jordan-Lake’s personal stories serve as earthy, modern-day reflections on strong theological words that express the grand story of God who continues to encounter us, leaving us a little unsettled, but hopeful.

Greg Bowman, minister to students

First Baptist Church, Duncanville

Connecting Women: A Relational Guide for Leaders in Womens Ministry by Linda Lesniewski (Baker Books)

The title, Connecting Women, can be read two ways. “Connecting” describes women who themselves serve as connectors in women’s ministries. But “connecting” as a verb expresses the sense of women’s ministry—connecting women with God, the church, other women and the world. Linda Lesniewski, women’s minister at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, does both by offering practical advice for exploring, expanding and extending women’s ministry in the church.

Lesniewski divides her step-by-step guide into four multi-chapter sections: “Sharing God’s Vision for Women,” “Heading Forward in Faith,” “Enjoying Fruitful Leadership” and “Proclaiming His Message.” Each chapter begins with an appropriate Scripture and the description of a woman, moves through several pages of practical guidance and closes with reflection. The book also contains nearly 40 pages of helpful appendices, reference notes and an extensive bibliography.

Whether beginning a women’s ministry, building on traditional missions organizations, or breathing freshness into an already successful operation, Connecting Women provides thoughtful assistance born of experience.

Kathy Robinson Hillman, former president

Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, Waco

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