Books briefly noted: Religious non-fiction

Book Review Editor Amy Pagliarella highlights several religious non-fiction books to add to your list.

Reading for the Love of God

Jessica Hooten Wilson
Brazos Press, 208 pages | Published March 28, 2023

While screens and devices challenge our attention spans and encourage shallow engagement with their content, Wilson suggests that we return to books, reading secular works as an “invitation to a broader vision.” She is a warm and faithful guide to reading as a spiritual practice, offering varied approaches (based on heroes like St. Augustine or Julian of Norwich) that help us draw closer to the sacred as we go deeper in our reading practices.

Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, fourth edition

Daniel L. Migliore
Eerdmans, 568 pages | Published May 31, 2023

Faith Seeking Understanding has seen several generations of seminarians through Reformed Theology classes and ordination exams. Migliore’s theological primer is more essential than ever; updated to connect our trinitarian faith with the climate crisis (“Christ and Cosmos”) and to respond to the questions raised by the COVID pandemic, the fourth edition continues the accessibility of earlier versions while adding contemporary content.

When Church Stops Working: A Future for Your Congregation beyond More Money, Programs, and Innovation

Andrew Root and Blair D. Bertrand
Brazos Press, 176 pages | Published May 16, 2023

Our churches have a major problem, but it is not decline. Root and Bertrand believe that the real problem is that this secular age leaves us with a vastly diminished concept of God. What should we do? Wait – actively wait – for the “God who is God” to reveal Godself. And while waiting, implement a theology of encounter — as we encounter each other in our churches, as well as encounter and serve others, we just might meet the Living God. Root’s other six volumes in his “Ministry in a Secular Age” series are worth a read, but When Church Stops Working is the best place to start — particularly for pastors and church councils to read together.

— Rev. Dr. Philip J. Reed, a “retired” pastor from Michigan serving as summer interim in Cooper Creek Church, Champaign, Illinois

Second Thoughts About the Second Coming

Ronald J. Allen and Robert D. Cornwall
Westminster John Knox Press, 194 pages | Published February 28, 2023

Allen and Cornwall noticed a trend in mainline churches: pastors generally steered clear of Jesus’ second coming, despite congregations’ curiosity about the Bible’s promises for a life beyond this one. Their response is a slim book that covers vast territory — Old and New Testament teachings, an overview of different movements and varied explanations throughout history. Particularly interesting is the discussion of life after death and the realization that the biblical witness is more diverse than we may realize. Remarkably accessible summer reading that includes a practical study guide for those eager to share this with their study group in the fall.

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