About This Blog

Monday, December 24, 2018

"A Lens of Love" (Jonathan L. Walton)

TITLE: A Lens of Love: Reading the Bible in Its World for Our World
AUTHOR: Jonathan L. Walton
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018, (208 pages).

Reading the Bible has always been a challenge. Some would open the texts with the question: "What does the Bible mean for me?" Others would rely on their traditions to understand the texts. Still others would use the Bible to resolve some pressing issues in life. With 66 books in the Old and New Testaments, the Bible can be intimidating, which leads some toward simplistic readings and selective applications. The problem with such approaches is that people would miss out the forest for the trees. Using a socio-historical interpretive approach, author Jonathan Walton seeks to address these problems with two key objectives. First, he aims to engage the four major sections of the Bible to give us a big story context. These sections are the "Dynastic Literature, the Pentateuch, the Gospels, and the Epistles." The Dynastic Literature gives us the backdrop to the Old Testament. The Pentateuch provides the narrative origins while the gospels shine on the life of Jesus. Finally, the epistles show us the early life of the Christian communities. The second objective is to build a bridge from the ancient to the modern world, to "promote ethical and responsible biblical interpretation among nonspecialists." This second task would be appealing to those who are concerned about the complex political, ethical, and social justice issues happening in contemporary times. Issues such as racism, rich-poor divide, gender discrimination, immigration, sexual discrimination, and so forth.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"Worship Essentials" (Mike Harland)

TITLE: Worship Essentials: Growing a Healthy Worship Ministry Without Starting a War!
AUTHOR: Mike Harland
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2018, (192 pages)

Since the beginning of time, worship has been a point of contention. Cain was unhappy when God looked upon his brother Abel's offering with greater favour. The prophet Nathan was upset when King Saul failed to wait for his return prior to the offering of the sacrifice. Israel angered God constantly over the issue of idolatry and false worship. In today's climate, whenever we talk about worship in Churches, there is that familiar tussle between contemporary and traditional music; new songs vs old hymns; sitting vs standing; instruments vs voices; young vs old forms; etc. Worship leaders are also torn between trying to cater to the needs of the congregation or tuning themselves more toward God. What we need is a roadmap of worship. We need to know the essentials from the frivolous ones. We need something biblical based and not something that is trendy, hip, or traditional. For worship leader Mike Harland, there are four core values for any worship community. Worship essentially is about:
  1. Telling the Story of God
  2. Making Disciples of Christ
  3. Engaging the Body of Christ
  4. Aspiring with Purpose.