Book Reviews November 2018


The God Who Goes Before You: Pastoral Leadership as Christ-Centered Followership by Timothy Paul Jones and Michael S. Wilder, B&H 2018, $29.99

Review by Andrew J.W. Smith

The Christian leadership book market is, one can say, saturated. But many of the books rely on secular pragmatic leadership theory, and often impose that theory upon the text of Scripture. This results in Christian leadership models that are heavy on worldly wisdom, and light on the timeless wisdom of the Holy Scriptures. Even worse, the biblical principles are often overly simplified, based more on prooftexts for non-biblical principles than the message of the Bible itself.

The God Who Goes Before You: Pastoral Leadership as Christ-Centered Followership, seeks to be different. Rooted in careful interpretation of the Bible, Timothy Paul Jones and Michael S. Wilder use good hermeneutics and careful exegesis to build a solid and robust foundation for their leadership model, which is itself thoroughly biblical. Good leadership, according to Jones and Wilder, has three parts: union with Christ, communion with his people, and mission to the world. This, they write, is radically countercultural.

“Our goal in The God Who Goes Before You is not to present timeless principles that would work as well in a synagogue or a mosque as in the life of a follower of Jesus,” they write. “Our purpose is to highlight patterns that are uniquely rooted in God’s revelation of himself in the whole of his written Word and, supremely, in Jesus Christ. Moralistic principles distilled from incidents in the lives of religious sages may work to accomplish human objectives in an organization. Yet they will do little to lead us toward patterns of leadership that are shaped by the Triune God and grounded in our union with Christ.”

In His Image by Jen Wilkin, Crossway 2018, $12.99

Review by Ruthie Shaw

Following her previous study of God’s incommunicable attributes, None Like Him, Jen Wilkin helps reveal the believer’s purpose in life by instead focusing on God’s communicable attributes in her new book, In His Image. It is a book for anyone who has ever questioned God’s will for his or her life, and the answer is found in the character of God himself.

“God’s will for our lives is that we conform to the image of Christ, whose incarnation shows us humanity perfectly conformed to the image of God.” Men and women will benefit from this book by seeing the Savior more clearly and being challenged to be more like him.

The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield, Crossway 2018, $19.99

Review by Gabriel Reyes-Ordeix

Your neighbors might not be the ones you have prayerfully asked for, but they are the ones God planned for you. In The Gospel Comes with a House Key, Rosaria Butterfield presents a biblical view on how hospitality and the gospel are intertwined — and how those relationships should play out in the wider culture.

The leper, illegal and dangerous to society, represents today’s needy and outcast, she writes. “Jesus … wasn’t afraid to touch hurting people,” he drew people close, met them empty and left them full. This contagious grace in radical hospitality should be model for the Christian’s home as “the place where we bring the church to the people.”

Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness by David Powlison, New Growth Press 2016, $19.99

Review by Tabitha Rayner

In Good & Angry, a book as much about God’s mercy as our anger, David Powlison guides his readers through their experiences with anger, what anger is, how to change, and how to practically navigate specific types of anger. Each chapter ends with a set of questions that allow the reader to apply personally the teachings from the chapter. The book functions as a much-needed and, at times, painfully insightful guide through living in a broken world.

Echoes of Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption through Scripture by Alastair J. Roberts and Andrew Wilson, Crossway 2018, $17.99

Review by Andrew J.W. Smith

If you are still doing your 11-month old New Years’ resolution to read the whole Bible in a year, you have probably realized how central the Exodus is to the story of the Old Testament. The Exodus — the story of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt — is referenced constantly by authors throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.

In Echoes of Exodus, Alastair J. Roberts and Andrew Wilson want you to see how the Exodus deeply resonates with the New Testament, too. They draw heavily from musical metaphors, showing how the story of the Exodus is a motif that reverberates throughout the whole Bible.