God & Churchill, Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley (Tyndale Momentum 2015, $26.99)
Review by S. Craig Sanders
Sir Winston Churchill is widely regarded as the greatest leader of the 20th century, but biographers have often struggled to identify what exactly set Churchill apart from his contemporaries besides his at times lone opposition to Adolf Hitler.
In their new book God & Churchill, the leader’s great-grandson Jonathan Sandys and co-author Wallace Henley embark on an ambitious task: to demonstrate Churchill’s reliance on divine intervention and his genuine commitment to Christian ideals. Drawing from his speeches and personal correspondence, Sandys and Henley argue the inspiration behind Churchill’s courage and conviction during World War II was protecting the “light” of Christian civilization from the “darkness” of Nazi Germany.
“Churchill knew it was not just Britain’s survival that had been laid upon him, but also the values of justice, freedom, respect for humanity, and peace inherent in Western culture,” the authors write. “He sensed that, if he failed, the world would become hellish.”
The authors show how Churchill’s early life benefited from the Christian instruction of his nanny. At age 16, Churchill possessed an indelible sense of divine destiny about his role in protecting his nation. As leader of the United Kingdom, Churchill “electrified his supporters” with his “humility and humanity.” And in his nationwide speeches, Churchill often included homilies on biblical passages. In his famous “men of valor” speech, Churchill paraphrased the apocryphal text 1 Maccabees 3:58-60 to urge the protection of Christian ideals.
The authors also elaborate on Churchill’s admiration of the Sermon on the Mount, which prepared him “to expect derision” and “steeled him to keep standing.” The book concludes with reflections on the character of Churchill’s leadership and how it offers hope for leaders in our world today.
Openness Unhindered, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (Crown & Covenant 2015, $13)
Review by S. Craig Sanders
In a follow-up to her breakout memoir Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, former lesbian and now pastor’s wife Rosaria Butterfield Champagne’s Openness Unhindered explores what it means to discuss sexual identity in light of a union with Christ.
“When the Lord entered my world, I experienced that gospel-ignited ‘expulsive power of a new affection,’” Butterfield writes. “That new affection was not heterosexuality, but Jesus, my Jesus, my friend and Savior. I was not converted out of homosexuality. I was converted out of unbelief.”
Butterfield, who was formerly a tenured professor of English at Syracuse, writes with vivid clarity, imbuing her theological observations with a warm candor. Her honest reflections of life after conversion offer sobering reminders of how evangelicals themselves must revisit their understanding of sexual identity and offer Christian hospitality to care for struggling people.
Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes, Iain H. Murray (Banner of Truth 2015, $13)
Review by Annie Corser
In a compelling narrative, Iain H. Murray depicts the missionary passion of Amy Carmichael. Responding to the call to bring all age groups to Christ, Carmichael served in the midst of great evil in India, including rescuing girls from Hindu temples. With great diligence, Murray uses a variety of original documents to portray Carmichael’s voice and her story by using creative imagery and remaining true to Carmichael’s own descriptions.
“If there was any pattern to Amy Carmichael’s life it was of times of refreshing then of trials,” Murray writes. “In part her explanation was that demonic activity follows the work of the Holy Spirit.”
Murray’s biography reveals Carmichael’s tenderness, devotion, and determination to rescue, love, and convert Indian children. He shares Carmichael’s testimony in such a way that it brings the missionary to life and offers inspiration for his readers.
Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past, Matthew D. Haste and Robert L. Plummer (Christian Focus 2015, $14.99)
Review by Annie Corser
In Held in Honor, Robert L. Plummer and Matthew D. Haste offer a collection of prayers, letters, descriptions, and encouragements about marriage paired with devotional readings.
“If we are to honor God in our homes, we must look outside of ourselves to those who have sail these waters before us,” Plummer and Haste write.
Plummer, professor of New Testament interpretation, and alumnus Haste gather historical documents ranging in date from the Patristic era through the present. Wisdom comes from historical figures like Ignatius of Antioch, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Elisabeth Elliot, and John Piper. Ranging in topics from sexuality, family, loving your spouse, leading each other to God, and the vocation of marriage, this collection will continue to draw marriages back to Christ, the sustainer and foundation for their model of marriage.