Book Reviews: Who is this man?

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Who is This Man? by John Ortberg (Zondervan)

book ortberg200Jesus made all the difference in the world. Christians believe that proposition as a statement of faith, because they personally bear witness to how Jesus changed their lives and how they trust their salvation to him. But John Ortberg approaches his subject from a different angle, examining how the life of Jesus made an indisputable impact on human history.

Ortberg, pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church near San Francisco, transports readers to the first-century Roman Empire to explore how the movement Jesus sparked transformed society. Concepts such as the inherent worth of every person, the virtue of humility, the value of servant leadership and the equality of women had little foothold in Greco-Roman culture until a peasant rabbi from Galilee changed everything.

Jesus turned the world upside-down by entering it humbly, embracing outcasts, confronting religious hypocrites, teaching love for enemies and elevating humanity by allowing himself to be killed in the most degrading manner imaginable. And then, on Sunday morning after his crucifixion and burial, he appeared to his frightened band of followers to tell them: “The cross didn’t stick. Their plan to stop by movement didn’t work. … Now they have you to contend with.”

Ortberg writes in an engaging style that not only draws readers in for an up-close view of the life of Jesus, but also invites them to follow the Leader.

Ken Camp, managing editor

Baptist Standard

Living in Christ’s Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God by Dallas Willard (IVP Books)

book willard200Dallas Willard possessed a well-earned reputation as a professor and scholar. However, he probably is best known for his writing, lectures and sermons on Christian spiritual formation. Although not a native Texan, Willard earned a degree from Baylor University.

Gary Moon and John Ortberg prepared Living in Christ’s Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God from a conference held in February 2013, shortly before Willard’s death that May. The book, which includes a discussion guide, begins with a section on “How to Live Well,” with Willard’s encouragement: “Eternal Life Begins Now.” Each chapter offers challenges to the Christian around themes such as discipleship vs. dogma, transformation, the Trinity, the importance of Christian disciplines and blessings.

The philosopher and theologian fills the pages with insights and practical advice for Christians committed to spiritual development, whether ministers or laity. Willard urges the reader to live in Christ’s presence and let him “flow through us.”

The book concludes with Dallas Willard’s final prayer and blessing from the conference: “May you rise above everything in our lives and hold us fast in the grip of adoration of who you are. We will and commit ourselves to what blesses you.”

Kathy Robinson Hillman, first vice president

Baptist General Convention of Texas


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