Small Faith, Great God

N. T. Wright
InterVarsity Press, 2010

N. T. Wright reminds us that Christian faith is neither a mere assent to certain facts nor a sentimental embrace of religious identity. Instead, Christian faith is always determined by its object. The size of our faith is not what matters, but the greatness of the God who has accepted us because of Christ's work on our behalf. This reissue of one of Wright's early works contains a message that may be more timely today than when it was first released in 1978.—Trevin Wax

Handel's Messiah

Comfort for God's People
Calvin R. Stapert
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010

The market for opera was fading, the fickle English public preferring parody over the real thing. So the resourceful Handel turned from opera to oratorio, supplementing his elegant and dramatic solos with powerful exclamation points of choral music. Handel couldn't have achieved the greatness of Messiah without Charles Jennens, who compiled these texts to fight the tide of spreading deism. Read this book, and you'll never hear Messiah the same way again.—David Neff

Who Chose the Gospels?

Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy
C. E. Hill (Oxford University Press)

Sometimes the silliness is so, well, silly, you don't even want to respond—like the speculation in The Da Vinci Code that imperial politics and papal manipulation made the four Gospels "Scripture." Until people start believing the fiction. Thus the need for a book like this, in which New Testament professor C. E. Hill of Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando patiently unveils the evidence that these four books emerged preeminent because the early church leaders were convinced—surprise!—that they were the most reliable accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus.—Mark Galli

Saint Peter

The Underestimated Apostle
Martin Hengel, translated by Thomas Trapp (Eerdmans)

Though Peter seems to drop out of the apostolic picture in the middle of Luke's Acts, he continued to play a crucial role, argues Martin Hengel, in forming both Jewish and Gentile Christian congregations. In this scholarly, accessible, and brief work, the late professor emeritus of New Testament and Judaism at T?ingen University looks at Peter the theologian, mission strategist, and family man, and how married apostles contributed to the rapid spread of the faith. —Mark Galli

Closing the Window

Steps to Living Porn Free
Tim Chester (InterVarsity Press)

It's no longer news that porn is not only pandemic in the culture but also in the church. And it's not just the young man's problem, but that of older men and even of women. Church planter Tim Chester faces this reality practically and theologically. He offers a five-fold approach that incorporates honest self-examination, suggests effective accountability, and offers a God-centered vision that can sabotage the attraction of porn. —Mark Galli

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American Grace

How Religion Divides and Unites Us
Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell
(Simon & Schuster)

At 573 pages (not counting 100 pages of footnotes), this is not exactly light recommended reading. But for those who like big studies of American religion, this is your cup of tea. In particular, the authors explore the relationship of religion and politics, and how that relationship has contributed to and detracted from America's common life. Religious neighbors are better neighbors than their secular counterparts, it turns out, but also less tolerant of dissent and supportive of civil liberties. So, yes, the book is full of surprising and seemingly contradictory findings. —Mark Galli

A God-Sized Vision

Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir
Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge (Zondervan)

Reformed wunderkind Collin Hansen (Young, Restless, Reformed) and seasoned historian John Woodbridge (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) team up to give readers a brief and energetic history of revivals. The fast-paced narrative notes time and again the men and women who had a "God-sized vision" for what Jonathan Edwards described as "the surprising work of the Spirit of God" in every age, on many continents.—Mark Galli

Navigating Your Perfect Storm

Bob Wenz (Biblica)

This pastor of 27 years and former vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals is dealing with his own perfect storm: In 2005, he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an incurable lung disease. So both as pastor and person, he knows about adversity. Thankfully, he avoids the narcissism usually found in this genre, and instead anchors the book in Jesus' farewell discourse, John 13 to 16. Add Wenz's uncommon sense and flashes of insight, and you have a solid and wise book on suffering.—Mark Galli

Re-Imaging Election

Divine Election as Representing God to Others and Others to God
Suzanne McDonald (Eerdmans)

Calvin College theologian Suzanne McDonald wades into the troubled waters of one of the most controversial of doctrines, and emerges not only alive, but with something fresh. Election is not about who gets into heaven and who doesn't, but, according to McDonald, about who is called to represent God to others, and more to the point, who represents others to God. She argues biblically for the prominent role of the Holy Spirit in election, and the priestly nature of the church's election: "The elect exist radically and instrinsically for the sake of the other," she says, "and to bring blessing to those who are apparently outside the promises of God." This is academic theology, yes, but one that speaks directly to the mission of the church.—Mark Galli

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Passing It On

An Autobiography with Spirit
Susan G. Baker (Bright Sky Press)

As wife of former secretary of state and White House chief of staff Jim Baker, Susan Baker could have written a political tell-all. Instead, this godly woman wrote "an autobiography with spirit," chronicling how faith in God helped her cope as wife and mother in the public eye. A private woman, but never shy, Baker protested raunchy rock lyrics, organized against homelessness, coordinated prayer for First Ladies, and strove for healing in the Middle East.—David Neff

Related Elsewhere:

Small Faith, Great God, Handel's Messiah, Who Chose the Gospels?, Saint Peter, Closing the Window, American Grace, A God-Sized Vision, Navigating Your Perfect Storm, Re-Imaging Election, and Passing It On are available from,, and other retailers.

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