BA Books & Authors on the Web – February 6, 2015

Cover ArtThe Christian Century featured an excerpt from Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.

Bonhoeffer reminds us that we must form our ministries around explorations of the living Christ. He also points us to the practical dispositions of doing youth ministry. He encourages us to do ministry through stories of our own faith life and to prayerfully seek composure, a spirit of calm. A calm disposition, coupled with narration, creates fertile ground for a depth of relationship (what Bonhoeffer called Stellvertretung or “place-sharing”) that mediates the presence of the living Christ..

Also, Root discussed Bonhoeffer and youth ministry in this month’s Christianity Today cover story, and Mark Husbands reviewed Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker for the Hope College blog.

Reformed Catholicity, by Michael Allen and Scott Swain, was reviewed by Gavin Ortlund at The Gospel Coalition, and by Derek Rishmawy at Reformedish.

At Don’t Stop Believing, Mike Wittmer reviewed J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

Steve Bishop , at An Accidental Blog, also reviewed A New Heaven and a New Earth.

At Reformation 21, Jon Coutts reviewed James Skillen’s The Good of Politics.

D. A. Carson’s Praying With Paul was reviewed at Treasuring Christ.

Nijay Gupta, at Crux Sola, reviewed Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark Elliott, Scott Hafemann, N. T. Wright, and John Frederick.

Caleb Spindler praised Jonathan Pennington’s Reading the Gospels Wisely.

The Etownian reported on a lecture by Mark Nation on key themes in Bonhoeffer the Assassin?


BA Books & Authors on the Web – September 26, 2014

Cover ArtAt First Things, Peter Leithart reviewed Andrew McGowan’s Ancient Christian Worship.

“Andrew McGowan’s Ancient Christian Worship is a very fine introduction to the subject. Though it is up-to-date academically, and, as McGowan says, includes the results of some of his own research, it is accessibly written, clearly organized, and highly informative.”

Dan Miller, at the Calvin history department’s Historical Horizons blog, reviewed The Good of Politics, by James Skillen.

At Crux Sola, Nijay Gupta shared part one of his review of James Thompson’s The Church according to Paul.

G. Wright Doyle, at the Global China Center, reviewed Understanding Christian Mission, by Scott Sunquist.

Abram K-J, at Words on the Word, recommended Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.

Michael Hansen reflected on James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom.

Larry Hurtado discussed major commentaries on Acts, including the third volume of Craig Keener’s Acts: An Exegetical Commentary.

At Euangelion, Joel Willitts recommended Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark Elliott, Scott Hafemann, N. T. Wright, and John Frederick.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 15, 2014

Cover ArtBruce Ellis Benson, author of Liturgy as a Way of Life, was interviewed by Alvin Rapien at The Poor in Spirit.

“What is liturgy? Probably the simplest way of answering that is that it all about how we live our lives. We have routines; we have ways of doing things; we have things that are essential to our lives. How we order our lives has to do with what we value. So, far from being just some kind of thing that “liturgical churches” do, liturgy is something that we cannot help but do on a daily basis.”

The Verbum Blog interviewed Mary Healy and Peter Williamson, editors of the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series and authors of the volumes on The Gospel of Mark and Ephesians. Read part one and part two of their discussion.

Hoon Lee, at Exploring Church History, reviewed Timothy Wengert’s Reading the Bible with Martin Luther.

At Panorama of a Book Saint, Conrade Yap reviewed Encountering the Book of Romans by Douglas Moo.

Conversations in Faith reviewed Reading the Historical Books by Patricia Dutcher- Walls.

The Books & Culture Podcast discussed J. Richard Middleton’s forthcoming A New Heaven and a New Earth.

Thomas Schreiner’s The King in His Beauty was reviewed by David Maas for RBL.

Joshua Torrey, at Grace for Sinners, reviewed Clayton Jefford’s Reading the Apostolic Fathers.

Marc Cortez listed Practicing Christian Doctrine by Beth Felker Jones in his post The Best Theology Books from the First Half of 2014.

At Brief Inquisition? Michael Hansen reflected on James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom.

James Skillen, author of The Good of Politics was interviewed about the conflicts in Iraq, Gaza, and Ukraine by the Christian Courier.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 1, 2014

Cover ArtFrederick J. Murphy’s Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World was reviewed by J. Todd Hibbard for RBL.

“[A] book that can be recommended enthusiastically. It contains a wealth of information that will enrich one’s reading of the apocalyptic literature of the biblical period, whether beginner or seasoned scholar.”

Also at RBL, Keith Bodner reviewed From Paradise to the Promised Land, by T. Desmond Alexander.

Marilyn Matevia reviewed Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Journey toward Justice, for The Englewood Review of Books.

Beginning with the Word, by Roger Lundin, was reviewed by Condrade Yap at Panorama of a Book Saint.

At Grace for Sinners, Mathew Sims reviewed Desiring the Kingdom, by James K.A. Smith.

Both Bob on Books and David Koyzis at Notes from a Byzantine-Rite Calvinist reviewed James Skillen’s The Good of Politics.

That Happy Certainty featured a series on Douglas Moo and his work in Galatians.

Atonement, Law, and Justice, by Adonis Vidu, was recommended by T. L. Arsenal.

EQUIP Book Club reflected on The Family by Jack and Judy Balswick.

At New Testament Perspectives, Matthew Montonini mentioned Francis Moloney’s forthcoming Reading the New Testament in the Church.

Gary Burge, author of Interpreting the Gospel of John and Jesus and the Land, wrote about the collapse of ethics in the conflict in Israel and Gaza.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – July 25, 2014

Cover ArtDavid Koyzis, at Christian Courier, reviewed James Skillen’s The Good of Politics.

“Readers have come to appreciate the wisdom and insight that Skillen has displayed in his work over the years. This new book certainly lives up to our expectations. The Good of Politics is a biblically and historically rich primer on the political life for everyone persuaded that the claims of Christ extend to our calling as citizens.”

Also reviewing The Good of Politics, Tim Hoiland for The Englewood Review of Books.

Richard G. Smith reviewed Tremper Longman’s commentary on Job, for RBL.

Mark Votava, at Culture of Imagination, reviewed Where Mortals Dwell by Craig Bartholomew.

At Evangelicals for Social Action, Bryan Stafford reviewed Bonhoeffer the Assassin? by Mark Thiessen Nation, Anthony Siegrist, and Daniel Umbel. Look to the comments for a response by Nation.

Joshua Torrey, at Grace for Sinners, reviewed The New Testament and Ethics, edited by Joel Green.

James K.A. Smith’s Who’s Afraid of Relativism? was reviewed by Conrade Yap at Panorama of a Book Saint.

Phil Newton reviewed Bryan Chapell’s Christ-Centered Preaching for 9 Marks.

Tim Ghali, at Black Coffee Reflections, reviewed the Church and Postmodern Culture series.

Douglas Moo was interviewed by the Logos Academic Blog about his Galatians volume in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – April 18, 2014

Cover ArtSteve Bishop at An Accidental Blog reviewed The Good of Politics, by James Skillen.

“We can serve God and do politics – in fact we can serve God in doing politics. Religion and politics do mix! In part this is why Skillen has written this excellent book, the title of which may seem to some Christians to be outrageous – how can politics be good? “

Rick Lee James quoted “An Appeal to Abolish War” from War and the American Difference by Stanley Hauerwas.

John Frederick discussed the forthcoming Galatians and Christian Theology, which he edited along with Mark Elliot, Scott Hafemann, and N.T. Wright.

David Turner, author of the Matthew volume in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, wrote about the Jesus Wife Fragment.”

At Panorama of a Book Saint, Conrade Yap reviewed Haddon Robinson’s Biblical Preaching, Third Edition.

At Pneuma Review, Michael Muoki Wambua reviewed Everyday Theology, edited by Kevin Vanhoozer, Charles Anderson, and Michael Sleasman.

Christ’s Kingship and Human Politics – an Excerpt from The Good of Politics

Cover ArtThe following is an excerpt from The Good of Politics, by James W. Skillen.


One of the deep convictions that will guide us in the pages that follow is that Christ now governs this world as king of kings and is not only the head of the church. In that respect, the first thing to emphasize about Christ’s kingship is its incarnational character, which is to say that the incarnate, crucified, and risen Jesus is the one whom God ordained as Israel’s messianic lord and ruler of all nations.

Christ’s kingship is not that of a nonhuman divinity but of a fully human servant of God (Heb. 2). And because of Christ’s faithfulness all the way to death, God elevated him to the throne on high, the throne of creation’s climax in God’s sabbath rest—the creation’s seventh day. Christ does not sit on a supernatural throne above the natural world but on the throne of creation’s fulfillment, which includes the fulfillment of human governing responsibility on earth.

Although Christ is not now present before our eyes in the way that the president of the United States or the president of Mexico is present, the Spirit of God is at work as Christ’s vicar, drawing disciples into his service, convicting the world of sin, and overseeing the history of the unfolding generations of humankind toward the day of the Lord when Christ’s kingdom will be fulfilled (John 16:1–15).

Yes, this is a view held by faith, not yet by sight, but that does not make it odd in comparison with other views of history and politics. Democratic liberals have not yet seen the world filled completely with democracies living at peace with one another, but that is the faith-based vision that inspires their work to promote democracy in the world. Marxists have not yet seen the world organized, as they believe it should be, as a peaceful and productive community without need of government, but that is the faith-based vision that guides their day-to-day work.

The question for Christians is this: How should we engage politically, guided by the vision of Christ’s kingdom that has not yet been revealed in its fullness?

©2014 by James W. Skillen. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


For more information on The Good of Politics, click here.

James Skillen: “Rethinking Our Political Responsibilites”

“Rethinking Our Political Responsibilites”
by, James W. Skillen

During my forty-plus years of teaching college and then directing the Center for Public Justice, two issues kept perplexing me. One was the fact that Americans in general, and Christians in particular, spoke easily about God and politics (in phrases such as “God bless America”) but seldom if ever spoke of Christ and politics. The second perplexity was the regular and easy expression of love for America, on the one hand, but of suspicion and even disrespect for government, on the other hand.

Cover ArtHow did these attitudes come about? What do they mean? The Good of Politics represents an attempt to find answers to these questions and to explain the two perplexities.

With regard to the first expression or attitude, the New Testament makes clear that Christ is Lord of lords, and when Jesus gives the Great Commission to his disciples, he states, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). Somehow, over the centuries, our understanding of the supreme lordship of Christ was reduced to something spiritual not material, to something heavenly and inward not earthly and outward, to something redemptive and ecclesiastical over against the responsibilities of government.

When the American colonies were established, the Puritans had the idea that their settlement came about like Israel’s exodus from Egypt. They were fleeing the Pharaoh of Britain, crossing the Red Sea of the Atlantic, and entering the Promised Land of New England. Eventually that idea of a new Israel took hold of revolutionaries, whether Christian or not, throughout the colonies. America as a whole was God’s new Israel, a new covenant people, to become a light to the nations. From that time on, the people and their political leaders who called on God addressed a public, political God. American Christians have tended to think of that God as the Christian God, but Jesus Christ no longer performs a revelatory role in earthly politics. The meaning of his lordship over all evaporates from this world’s politics and the meaning of his kingdom is put off until he returns at the final judgment. But to privatize Christ during life in this age and disconnect his lordship from the God who blesses America is to misunderstand the Bible.

The challenge for Christians today is to rethink the meaning of earthly political responsibility in the light of what the Bible actually teaches about Christ’s lordship over all nations and his fulfillment of the one and only Israel as the long-anticipated Messiah who breaks down the wall between Jews and gentiles in inaugurating the kingdom of God.

The second perplexing attitude, the disconnect between loving America and questioning or hating government, is partly related to the first attitude. The love of America is often more than simple patriotism. It is a civil-religious belief that this God-blessed nation is the key to democracy and prosperity in the world, the guarantor of freedom and the key to historical progress under God’s providence. Government, on the other hand, is what humans establish by contract to protect their private property and the pursuit of happiness. It would be best if government did not have to exist, but because of threats to life and liberty, government is necessary to restrain evil and punish evildoers. Apart from this, government simply gets in the way of free people.

This view has ancient roots in the thought of the early church father Augustine, who believed that God established government because of sin. It is not natural for creatures made in the image of God. Much later, the most important political thinker who influenced American thinking, John Locke, offered a modernized version of Augustine. He also said that we are not by nature political creatures. But God is not the one who establishes government; humans do that by their own contract. Government is thus held in suspicion or even hated because it is an unnatural institution that will always try to do more than it is supposed to do. That is why we live with the conundrum of loving the nation as God’s new Israel while distrusting government. But this, too, is unbiblical and does not square with the responsible governing of political communities.

What I try to do in The Good of Politics is first to show how the Bible presents a different framework for understanding just governance—the relation between government and citizens in communities of public justice. Then in Part Two, I survey the development of political thought and practice from Augustine to modern times to explain how people in the West and in many parts of the world have come to believe what they do about political life. Finally, in Part Three, I make a case from a Christian point of view for how we should approach the practical responsibilities of citizenship and governing today.


James W. Skillen (PhD, Duke University) helped found the Center for Public Justice (CPJ), an independent, nonpartisan organization devoted to policy research and civic education for which he served as executive director and president. Now retired from the CPJ, he is engaged in full-time writing, mentoring, and speaking on political thought and public policy. Skillen has authored or edited numerous books, including Recharging the American Experiment, and lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

For more information on The Good of Politics, click here.

New Release: The Good of Politics

Cover ArtIn The Good of Politics, James Skillen argues that God made us to be royal stewards of public governance from the outset and that the biblical story of God’s creation, judgment, and redemption of all things in Jesus Christ has everything to do with politics and government.

In this irenic, nonpartisan treatment of an oft-debated topic, Skillen critically assesses current political realities and helps readers view responsibility in the political arena as a crucial dimension of the Christian faith.


“[A]n important contribution to the growing body of serious evangelical political thought. This book is a masterful articulation of a profoundly Christian political philosophy–one developed in a sophisticated conversation with a broad range of the most important shapers of Western culture.” – Ronald J. Sider, Eastern University

The Good of Politics offers needed wisdom for an age tempted to despair about the possibility of anything good coming from politics. Judiciously tacking between empirical and normative issues, Skillen draws deeply from biblical sources and major streams of the Christian tradition in the service of a distinctively positive vision of civic responsibility for our common life. This accessible text by one of the most engaged Protestant political thinkers of his generation should find an important place in colleges, seminaries, and churches.” – Eric Gregory, Princeton University

“I have long believed that the dynamic, nonpartisan, and deeply Christian approach to politics embodied in the writings and witness of Jim Skillen offers an invaluable resource for our political moment. Here we have Skillen’s political vision at its best. Biblically rooted and generous in spirit, he engages a staggering array of topics from the early church through today and invites us to see politics as a good and faithful endeavor that can and should promote justice for all.” – Kristen Deede Johnson, Western Theological Seminary


James W. Skillen (PhD, Duke University) helped found the Center for Public Justice (CPJ), an independent, nonpartisan organization devoted to policy research and civic education for which he served as executive director and president. Now retired from the CPJ, he is engaged in full-time writing, mentoring, and speaking on political thought and public policy. Skillen has authored or edited numerous books, including Recharging the American Experiment, and lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

For more information on The Good of Politics, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 21, 2014

Cover ArtThe Good of Politics by James Skillen was extensively reviewed Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Books.

“[I]t is with exceptional gladness that we can here announce the publication of the brand new book by James Skillen, The Good of Politics….In various ways in this important book, Skillen helps us ponder what we mean by ‘public justice’ and the ‘common good’ and ponders essential questions such as how the state – which is God’s good gift to us, not a bad thing — can use legitimate authority to help order our pluralistic political community.”

Billy Kangas at The Orant reviewed Jonathan Wilson’s God’s Good World.

At Everyday Theology, Marc Cortez reflected on discerning God’s work in historical events, and turned to John Fea’s Why Study History?

Also, the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association recently released its list of thirty-six finalists for the 2014 Christian Book Award. We are please to announce that the Handbook of Women Biblical Interpreters, edited by Marion Ann Taylor and Agnes Choi, and The King in His Beauty by Thomas Schreiner, have been selected as finalists in the Bible Reference category