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Challenges for the church

Books | Books on adoption, baptism, and other topics show how Christians can be set apart

Issue: "New faces of New Orleans," Aug. 15, 2009

If you want to learn more about adopting children and why, biblically, it's such a good thing to do, read Russell D. Moore's Adopted for Life (Crossway, 2009). Moore weaves in the story of the two Russian children he and his wife have adopted and shows how churches should view adoption as part of their mission. He notes the difference it would make if Christians were known once again as the people who take in orphans and make them sons and daughters.

If you're undecided on when baptism is proper, or if your mind is made up but you want to understand why equally faithful Christians have an opposite position to yours, read Baptism: Three Views (IVP, 2009). It presents views held by three knowledgeable theologians who also write clearly. Bruce Ware on believers' baptism, Sinclair Ferguson on infant baptism, and Anthony Lane on dual-practice baptism cite the scriptural basis for their views (Lane emphasizes the understanding of the early church as well). Each has the opportunity to respond to the others, and then respond to the responses.

If you want your evangelical church to grow leaders who will keep it from sliding into irrelevance, read books by one older and one younger pastor: The Leadership Dynamic: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders, by Harry L. Reeder III with Rod Gragg (Crossway, 2008), and Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different, by Tullian Tchividjian (Multnomah, 2009). And we should all keep in mind what Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington write in The Bookends of the Christian Life (Crossway, 2009): "At any given time, all Christians are occupied in one or more of three arenas: either (1) we're battling sin; (2) we're actively sinning; or (3) we're in the aftermath of sin."

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If you'd like to gain some understanding of three sets of fanatics who point fingers at others and tend to assume that they themselves are sinless, read Amir Taheri's The Persian Night: Iran under the Khomeinist Revolution (Encounter, 2009); David Horowitz/Jacob Laskin's One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America's Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy (Crown Forum, 2009); and William Murchison's Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity (Encounter, 2009).

If you think that concerns about radical Islam are overblown, read The Blood of Lambs, by Kameel Saleem with WORLD senior writer Lynn Vincent (Howard Books, 2009). It's an action-packed story of a Muslim terrorist who became a Christian and now wants to rouse America from a "national slumber" that leaves many of us unaware of the dangers of radical Islam: "Many Muslims are kind and gentle people, but about one in ten" hates America and plans to keep on hating. Another book, Moorthy Muthuswamy's Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War (Prometheus, 2009), gives useful advice on what the West must do to survive.

Border dispute

Daniel Carroll Rodas' Christians at the Border (Baker, 2008) provides a history of Hispanic immigration to the United States and argues that Old Testament graciousness toward sojourners contrasts powerfully with attitudes in Babylon and other lands. In Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate (IVP, 2009), Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang argue persuasively that immigration has been and is valuable to the United States. They emphasize the importance of "Thinking Biblically about Immigration" but do not sufficiently take into account border security problems.

James Hoffmeier's The Immigration Crisis (Crossway, 2009) shows convincingly that Old Testament law differentiates between the legal alien (ger) and the foreigner (nekhar) who does not have resident status. He brings out the biblical stress on obeying the law and notes that churches or cities offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants cannot claim to be following the practice of "sanctuary cities" in the Bible, since those were for offenders who had accidentally or unintentionally killed someone. Hoffmeier points out that "religious organizations are the key to welcoming new citizens, aliens, and refugees."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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