Rolfing Unshelved

Books, news, and events from TIU's Rolfing Library

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Book Displays: January 2015

Homosexuality and Gay Marriage

Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions about Homosexuality, the Bible and Same-sex Attraction by Sam Allberry

In recent years, the issues of homosexuality, same-sex attraction, and gay marriage have come to the fore. Many churches and even denominationsIs God anti-gay have been torn apart over their stances on these issues. The controversy surrounding homosexuality has raised many questions for Christians about what the Bible says about homosexuality. There is a huge body of work dedicated to this issue, so it can be difficult to get straight answers about homosexuality and the Bible in a clear and concise way. Sam Allberry’s little book, Is God Anti-Gay? And Other Questions about Homosexuality, the Bible and Same-sex Attraction, tackles these questions plainly and succinctly. Allberry addresses some of the biggest questions that Christians ask themselves, including whether the Old Testament prohibition of homosexuality is still applicable today and whether Jesus had anything to say about homosexuality. Allberry also briefly addresses how we as Christians should respond to homosexuality not only in our church, but also within society and culture. The size and content of the book is perfect for anyone who is looking for a manageable read that will help them become more familiar with what the Bible says about homosexuality and how Christians can remain true to Scripture while still reflecting the love and compassion of Christ.

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EFCA Conference 2015

The Lost World of Scripture: Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority by John H. Walton and D. Brent Sandy 

The doctrine of inerrancy has recently become a hot topic among evangelicals. While evangelicalism affirms inerrancy of the Bible, there has been a push against traditional views of inerrancy not only from outside of evangelicalism, but also fromLost World of Scripture within. In order to address this situation and discuss the importance of affirming the inerrancy and authority of scripture, the theme “The Doctrine of the Scriptures” has been chosen for the 2015 EFCA Theology Conference, hosted by TIU later this month. The conference has set out to address the importance of providing churchgoers with a firm foundation of biblical inerrancy. Following the lead of the EFCA conference, one of our monthly displays provides a selection of books on biblical inerrancy and other topics that the conference will feature, such as Calvinism, Arminianism, Luther, evangelical theology and Christian doctrine. We also have e-books available on these issues. Among them is The Lost World of Scripture: Ancient Literary Culture and Biblical Authority by John H. Walton and D. Brent Sandy. Walton and Sandy explore the history of the oral and written transmission of the biblical text and what implications it might have for inerrancy, inspiration and the authority of scripture. The first two parts of the book review the history of written and oral communication of information in the Old and New Testaments, respectively. The third part of the book discusses the various literary genres that were typical of the biblical world, and the final part concludes with a discussion on the reliability and authority of the Scriptures. A 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards Honorable Mention, this book is certainly worth a read if you are interested in learning more about the Bible’s transmission, reliability and authority.

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MLK and Civil Rights

Misremembering Dr. King: Revisiting the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by Jennifer J. Yanco 

When one thinks of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is difficult not to think of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he speaks out against racial discrimination in the United States, is well-known. King gave his life for the Civil RightsMisremembering Dr. King movement, and his life and death have had an enormous impact in the United States. But what about the other contributions that Martin Luther King made? Why doesn’t anyone ever remember King’s “giant triplets” – militarism, materialism and racism? Jennifer Yanco attempts to rectify this disproportion in her book Misremembering Dr. King: Revisiting the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Yanco argues that King’s other interests have been overshadowed by his role in the Civil Rights Movement. She contends that over time successive generations have left out, or “misremembered,” crucial elements of King’s legacy. Few are aware of King’s concern for the effects of a culture caught up in greed and materialism or his firm stance against militarism and nonviolence in the heat of the Vietnam War. Yanco does not deny the importance of King’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, but she is mainly concerned with emphasizing King’s contributions in other areas in order to reveal more fully who Martin Luther King Jr. was and what he stood for. This book is a great read for those who are interested in learning more about King’s ideals and values and why they are so important to remember alongside his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement.

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June Book Displays

The summer is ripe with opportunities both relaxing and fun. I can think of few better things to do in the summer than sitting outside (usually at a Starbucks) on a  sunny day with a good cup of coffee and one of these great e-books on my Kindle. If only I had the day off to do it! Whether you’re taking summer courses, working, or exploring the great outdoors, check out an e-book from Rolfing to enjoy in your free moments.

porter_how we gotStanley Porter’s How We Got the New Testament: Text, Transmission, Translation is worth a read, especially during these summer months. It is based on a series of lectures from 2008 at Acadia Divinity School. At just 241 pages, it is a reasonably readable length for students and educated laypeople and the complicated material is written in understandable language. It is introductory in scope and offers a broad yet thorough understanding of the text, transmission, and interpretation of the New Testament. However, reading this volume will require familiarity with New Testament Greek and textual criticism.

Schreiner_King in his beautyThomas Schreiner’s The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments is a hefty 735-page volume — but don’t be intimidated! It’s a book-by-book biblical theology of both the Old and New Testament, so the page count is actually low considering the subject! Schreiner’s argument is that, although no one theme adequately captures the entire message of Scripture, “Kingdom of God” is fitting as the Bible’s central theological theme. You can learn more about this book by checking out a brief interview with Dr. Schreiner or reading Josh Hayes’ review.

detwiler_iGodsIf you’re up for an interesting read on tech-giants Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook, and want to consider your spiritual life in the omnipresent technological age, then dig in to Craig Detweiler’s iGods: How Technology Shapes our Spiritual and Social Lives. He tells the creation narrative of these companies using theological labels and discusses how these “iGods” can become major distractions. It received a mixed review in Christianity Today but has also received national praise for its address of emerging cultural issues wrapped up in technology.

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April e-Reading

The semester is drawing to a close and for many that means papers, projects, and final exams. Spare time is likely to be a luxury over these next several weeks, as is any brain power that hasn’t been exhausted over long hours of study. But if you do have some spare time and brain power left over, here are some fantastic titles on Easter and urban missions. Some of them I’ve reviewed below. These are titles that are not physically shelved here at Rolfing, but are readily available in electronic form. If you’re like me and you’re conditioned to think that legitimate sources are only printed on paper and placed on the shelf, allow these electronic gems to change your mind!

jesus and the demise of death

Jesus and the Demise of Death by Matthew Levering is not a light read. It is a thorough study on resurrection and eternal life, both of Christ’s journey post-cross as well as the believer’s. Surprisingly, the author manages to put all of this material together in just 129 pages (plus an extra 60 pages of extensive notes). I highly recommend this for seminarians, as it is not only an informative read but it would certainly be a useful source for papers.

the resurrection of the messiahThe Resurrection of the Messiah by Christopher Bryan is an invaluable resource on the resurrection. Bryan takes a unique approach, primarily dealing with what he calls “historical certainties” following the crucifixion events. What I like best about this volume is the “bonus material.” From pages 191 to 416, Bryan packs in extensive end notes, extra notes organized topically, and a navigable selection of sources organized by subject material. This would well serve Masters- and Doctoral-level students who are doing research in this field.

justice project

The Justice Project makes the claim that the world has never been in greater need of Christians who “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” I like this book for two reasons: its subject material and its accessibility. Like a growing number of Christians, I am increasingly interested in the topic of justice. For those with that shared interest, this is an informative resource. It’s a compilation of short chapters authored by a variety of writers who are professionals in their fields, offering a good mix of scholastic thought and practical theology. This is a resource open to readers at all levels.


the ghettoThe Ghetto is an intriguing sociological work that challenges popular culture’s conceptions of the “ghetto.” It addresses the lack of a unified urban theory for cities and seeks to move the discussion to a global context. There is a historical element explaining from whence “ghetto” was originally derived and much discussion on contemporary urban research. This is suitable to college level readers whose interests involve social work and/or ministry in an urban context.

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Book Displays: Poverty Minstry

Hole in our gospelWhat is the gospel? Is it something we do? Is it something Christ does? Or maybe a combination of both?  Richard Stearns’s book, The Hole in our Gospel, has gained a lot of attention since its publication in 2009. In his book, Stearns argues that the American church has lost a piece of the gospel message. He urges Christians to look beyond their own churches and work to win the world for God’s kingdom. He challenges Christians to move from simply having a private faith to experiencing their faith in a public way, mainly through reducing poverty and caring the the sick, underprivileged, and the hurting throughout the world. Stearns delves into realms of missions, self-denial, and caring for “the least of these” in hopes of encouraging Christians to see the hole in their gospel.

His tone is gentle yet firm, and it is difficult not to feel sympathy for his cause. There is no debating that his argument is valiant and beneficial. Poverty is a crisis that needs to be addressed. Yet some argue that there is something missing from Stearns’s argument. In a review from the Christian Research Institute, author and pastor Kevin DeYoung gives three criticisms of Stearns’s book.

First, DeYoung resists Stearns’s method of turning Christians from apathy. He agrees that Christians are often apathetic to needs outside their own daily life and community, but he does not agree with Stearns’s method of motivation. Stearns asks believers to move away from valuing those in their own circles over those around the world. After all, God values all his people equally, so why don’t we? DeYoung finds this method of motivation ineffective and responsible for producing unnecessary guilt.

Second, DeYoung disagrees with Stearns’s use of economics to prove his point. These facts are no doubt motivating, but somewhat misleading as well. His use of statistics creates a dissidence regarding who is responsible for world poverty. In some places, he says that western Christians are not to blame for world poverty, and in others, his facts and statistics seem to argue the opposite.

Third, and arguably most important, is the question, What is the gospel? Stearns focuses on a gospel based on the actions of believers. DeYoung argues that this focus is a disservice to the true gospel message. Although Stearns would no doubt agree that Christ atoned for our sins so we could be reconciled with God, his book does not make it clear. When viewed as a whole, it seems Stearns’s gospel is primarily focused on something that we do.

Undoubtedly, this is an interesting read and a valuable perspective to explore. We are interested in your thoughts on this subject! Please comment below and check out our display relating to poverty ministry!

What do you believe is the balance between words and deeds associated with the gospel?

Have you read The Hole in our Gospel? What is your reaction to Stearns’s premise?

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Book Review: Confronting the Holes in Holy Week

A book on Holy Week written by a physicist? Not appealing at first blush. But upon a thorough perusal, Colin J. Humphreys’ The Mystery of the Last Supper (Cambridge, 2011) proves an absolute gem. You know the saying about books and their covers.

Giotto’s “The Arrest of Christ” (c.1306)

Noted New Testament scholar I. Howard Marshall declares in his foreword that this book is a tour de force. That is high praise, especially considering Humphreys’ biblical research is something he does in his free time — alongside his day job as a top-flight Cambridge materials scientist, for which work he was recently knighted.

Humphreys’ aim in The Mystery of the Last Supper is to present a coherent account of the chronology of Holy Week. Anyone who has read the accounts in the Gospels of Jesus’ last days before death knows that one is likely to run into all manner of apparent contradictions and chronological confusions in the quest to reconstruct just how the week must have looked.

Humphreys points out four central problems in this quest:

1) Did anything happen on Holy Wednesday?
2) Was the last supper a Passover meal?
3) How did all the events purported to have happened between the evening supper and the crucifixion the next morning happen within that short span of time?
4) Did the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus flout Jewish legal rules against capital trials being held at night?

These are crucial questions, both as matters of history (what really happened?) and of faith (are the Gospels trustworthy?).

Humphreys deals with these questions intelligently and straightforwardly. The result is a fascinating, well-researched, imaginative bit of scholarship. As it explores Jewish calendar systems and the like, the book comes out valiantly on the side of the reliability of the Gospels.

Wondering what happened on each day of Holy Week? Then read Humphreys. During the month of March, Rolfing’s copy of The Mystery of the Last Supper can be found in the Holy Week display near the library entrance.