Ex Libris: Quick reviews of theological books

by Lee Staman

Enns, Peter. The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2016.

Peter Enns, an Old Testament scholar, has written a few popular and approachable books in recent years on our relationship to the Bible and beliefs. Taking head-on the misguided idea that correct beliefs alone are what define the people of God, Enns puts out a great book that argues that our trust in God is far more meaningful. Being a biblical scholar, Enns crafts his argument using scripture as the foundation. This book was a joy to read and to discover a new way of seeing the Bible and belief.

Gushee, David P. Changing Our Mind. Canton, MI: Read the Spirit Books, 2017.

David Gushee is a Christian minister and ethicist who previously believed and argued that LGBTQ persons were living an immoral lifestyle. As the title suggests, Gushee, an evangelical scholar who moved easily in conservative circles, changed what he believed after getting to know more LGBTQ people. According to Gushee, “Better is one day in the company of those bullied by Christians but

loved by Jesus than thousands in the company of those wielding scripture to harm the weak and defenseless.”

Heinrichs, Steve. Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2019.

This book was a pleasure to read. A diverse collection of writers interpreting scripture from Genesis to Revelation, all through the lens of reading the Bible “so that it is a force for justice and peace in the cause of the oppressed.” Each of the nearly 70 experiments could be read as daily meditations or talking prompts for a discussion group.

McFague, Sallie. A New Climate for Christology: Kenosis, Climate Change, and Befriending Nature. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2021.

This book can be theologically dense at certain points, but the theme is timely and necessary reading. Using the idea of Jesus’ self-emptying or kenosis as found in Philippians 2:7, McFague argues that we need to follow the example of Jesus as a model for how we should be in relation with the natural world. By emptying ourselves we more fully open ourselves up to relationship with God and neighbor. I definitely recommend this book for those looking for a new, Christocentric approach to ecology.

Patel, Eboo. Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018.

Patel is a master at creating a growing space for dialogue. He also provides a refreshing and clear-eyed case for the benefits that religious belief and practice can bring to

a diverse community. The book offers a great discussion of how pluralism, the active engagement of differences toward a positive end, is a necessary feature of our country. I would recommend this for those who are looking for a short introduction to contemporary approaches to religious diversity.

Rah, Soong-Chan. The Next Evangelicalism: Releasing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2009.

I discovered that I could not agree with every position Rah put forward in this book but found the overall message worth recommending. The book reads like an extended sermon in parts and a well-constructed cultural analysis in others. Rah rightly takes issue with the pervasive individualism in what he calls the Western, white captivity of the church that has adopted more narcissistic traits instead of maintaining a focus on the gospel.