Mini-Reviews #5

September 29, 2011

Another batch of mini-reviews:

Raised Right by Alisa Harris

I have mixed feelings about this book. For one, I’m always a bit jaded by memoirs from people who are young. Alisa Harris is 26 years old. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it puts a personal touch, a face, on a generation of evangelical involvement in politics. Alisa Harris tells how she moved from a doctrinaire right-wing zealot to someone more moderate, even liberal in her politics. She correctly points out hypocrisies in evangelical conservative politics and how the church’s mission gets lost when it seeks power. However, there is a tendency for Harris to throw the baby out with the bathwater and reject every conservative plank, something I’m not willing to do. She seems to be a person still in process, searching for the right mix of activism and faith. Still, it’s a good, if not sometimes tedious, read. I appreciate her willingness to listen and to appreciate her Christian heritage, honor her parents, and earnestly seek the mind of Christ. For every politically-minded young evangelical processing politics and Scripture, this is an important read. Then I strongly suggest City of Man by Michael Gerson and Pete Wehner.

Letters to a Young Preacher by Calvin Miller

What would it be like to sit at the feet of a seasoned, successful, wise old pastor? Well every young preacher gets that chance by reading Letters to a Young Preacher. This book is a rich and wonderful read, filled with powerful and thought-provoking insights and reflections. Calvin Miller is more than a preacher. He’s a masterful storyteller and writer, whose words lift off the page. In this book, he’s extremely candid and skillfully critiques movements on all sides of Christianity, offering homespun advice to the young and green pastor. What I loved about this book is how he affirms the average pastor of a small church. He pushes the pastor away from seeking his own success and encourages him to get his hands dirty in ministering to God’s people. At times this book was deeply convicting to my own soul. I think every young pastor should read this.

I did have one minor irritant in this book. No work, however beautiful, is perfect. Miller loathes the mega-church and he seems to loathe famous pastors. This is a thread throughout the book that at times can be jarring. Most of his insights on mega-churches are spot-on, but I’m not willing, like he, to assume every single famos pastor is disingenuous and self-seeking. That aside, this is a jewel of a book. Get it and read it.

Dug Down Deep Josh Harris

This book has been out for a while and I’ve wanted to read it. I hadn’t had the chance until now. This is a fantastic book, a readable, humorous, honest book on doctrine by pastor and author, Joshua Harris. This is less of a polemic and more of a personal story of Josh’s journey to loving and embracing doctrine in his life and ministry. He has coined the phrase, “Humble Orthdoxy”, which is to hold the truths of God firmly with a posture of awe and humility.

You will enjoy this book because Josh Harris is a fantastic writer with a pastoral heart and a love for the gospel.

This may be the most readable book on doctrine available. It’s at times funny, honest, and personal. I would highly recommend it.