Pre-order “Travel: in Tandem with God’s Heart” today

 

 

 

 

The final manuscript has been sent off to the publisher, the printing will start soon, and come October, they’ll be making their way to a bookshop (or online retailer near you!).

For the cheapest price so far, you can pre-order it here (with free postage to the UK)

If you’re an Amazon junkie, it’s available through their normal pre-order system.

Or if you want it on the Publisher’s (IVP) website (free delivery if you buy a couple more to give to your avid travelling friends and family): click here

Finally, I’ll be touring Ireland (with a few UK stops too) with a “Travel Experience” event this academic year, so you can buy reduced price copies at all of these events.  Details tbc.

Here’s what others have been saying about it:

I have been travelling internationally for 45 years. I wish I’d been able to read this book years ago – it would certainly have made me travel more thoughtfully: it’s a travelogue; it’s theology; it’s cultural education; it’s mission challenge all rolled into one. A fascinating read.

– Peter Maiden, International Director Emeritus of Operation Mobilization and former Chairman of Keswick Ministries

Loved it! What a marvelous journey through the stories of Scripture (and the author’s life) that will challenge, encourage and widen your perspective, not only on travel, but also on the amazing One who created it all. In a world where it is easier than ever to work or study abroad, this book deserves to be widely read.

– Sinead Norman, International Student Ministry Administrator at International Fellowship of Evangelical Students

Peter Grier gives us excellent, fresh ideas for honouring God with our travels, and helps shape perspective on mission, tourism and the meaningful welcoming of international students.

– Alan Tower, National Director of Friends International
If you’d like to help me spread word about the book, host a “travel experience” evening to get people thinking about the topic, or have me to speak, I’d be delighted to consider any invitations.
Thanks in advance!  Happy reading!

Book Review: Pictures at a Theological Exhibition (Vanhoozer, IVP)

Disclaimer: I was kindly given a copy of this book by IVP to review, but this in no way altered my review and my freedom to express what I want to about it.  All books I review can be got from your local Christian bookshop, in Cork (Unbound) or in Belfast (Evangelical Bookshop).

Does preaching have any relevance anymore?  Shouldn’t we just do interactive studies/discussion now?  Aren’t words so cold and doctrine so harsh at times?  Postmodern philosophy and theology has deconstructed words so much that they sit in a heap, lifeless and meaningless.  Occasionally picked up, dusted off and attempted to be used by frustrated evangelicals (and even more frustrated congregants who have to listen to such evangelical explanation, teaching and rants week in, week out, with oh so little power to change).

Vanhoozer’s usage of speech-act theory in his masterful “is there meaning in this text?” helped me immensely in my philosophy degree to not only defend against attacks of postmodern language theories that had little place for words, but to paint a beautiful picture of warm, life-giving words that are alive and perform an act in front of our very eyes.  Although this reviewed work is meant to be a practical outworking of some of Vanhoozer’s other more theological/philosophical work, if one doesn’t grasp the complexities of why words seem powerless in the modern day world, it may just pass over your head a little.

Like his other works, it’s hard to tell where theology stops and philosophy starts (isn’t it that way in the scriptures also, you may ask?), and thus one could read this informative and heart-warming play, and still disagree over the finer points of whether we’re committed philosophically to follow Vanhoozer on from where the text takes us.

That said, for those who are willing to give it a go, this is a majestic performance, that lives out what it seeks to teach.  Framed using Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” (don’t worry, he explains this, for those like me who aren’t big enough classical geeks), he guides us round a life-giving defense of Christian imagination, by helping us experience God’s Word through the lens of themes such as “prophet, priest and King”, presented academically, theologically and pastorally.

Whether you turn to read for his academic nuance of engaging with the latest ideas, because you want theologically challenged by rigorous, heart-warming teaching or because you want to see Vanhoozer’s outworking of pastoral and evangelistic persuasion, this work is well worth the read and will restore any confidence you lacked in the words of scripture and their authority.

Books like these actively demonstrate why I am still very confident to hold dearly to the fact that Scripture/revelation can sit authoritatively over and above experience, authority and reason, although obviously informing all 3 in this majestic speech-act.  Taken rightly, this work would make the claims of my first paragraph laughable.

PicTheoExh

To close, lest one be discouraged by his academia (not that one would find it easy to be discouraged, after reading it), his warmth comes through time and time again:

“If I speak in the tongues of Reformers and of professional theologians, and have not personal faith in Christ, my theology is nothing but the noisy beating of a snare drum. And if I give myself to resolving the debate between supra- and infralapsarianism, and to defending inerrancy, and to learning the Westminster Catechism, yea, even the larger one, so as to recite it by heart backwards and forwards, and have not love, I have gained nothing.” (p. 180)

Book review: Satisfaction Guaranteed (IVP)

Disclaimer: I was kindly given a copy of this book by IVP to review, but this in no way altered my review and my freedom to express what I want to about it.  All books I review can be got from your local Christian bookshop, in Cork (Unbound) or in Belfast (Evangelical Bookshop).

Satisfaction Guaranteed

It’s a bold title “satisfaction guaranteed” that grabbed me from the outset and made me think it may not just be another book of many on this kind of topic.  Whereas in other works (see footnote), the authors try to persuade people from further back (persuading them that unbiblical sexuality is wrong), Berry and Wood have a lesser target but still a bold one – that we as Christians can be completely satisfied in Christ.  The book is not a long one, and passes quite quickly over other material to really home in on this aim.

Easily read, they spend the first half of their case building a biblical worldview of sexuality and then in the second half, hit home marvellously helpful points about how we can still find life to the full, even within that biblical worldview.

Somewhat the uniqueness of this book is the two who are writing it.  Berry in his forties, and Wood in his twenties both have been in same-sex relationships and know what it is to be in that position from a Christian background.  Their stories (not lurid and just the right amount of detail to be helpful), are what really grabbed me and made the rest of the book have a weight greater than the size of book would otherwise have managed.  Through their work, they’ve met hundreds of same-sex attracted Christians and have given guidance and help to many.

As they rightly note, it’d be easy for those well versed in the big Bible picture to drift through or entirely skip the opening half of the book, but it’s a helpful read, if not even just for their stories interspersed throughout.  As they lay the groundwork for what is to come later, it really goes without saying that the first half is worth the read.

But for me it’s the second-half which so helpfully counters prevailing belief even in Christian circles.  Dealing with our weakness and struggles and verses like “it is not good for man to be alone” and the “gift” of singleness and marriage, they correct many false understandings and deal with many struggles for the single Christian, whilst not allowing us to dwell in being victims of society but to be empowered to love God and love others.

Jonathan and Rob write with such warmth and understanding that the fact they call Christians to the “narrow road” in Christ doesn’t seem so bad anymore, as they point to a flourishing of humankind that opens into an infinite enjoyment of the One who gave us sexuality in the first place.  They join me (see: here)  in quoting Lewis!

Altogether, a worthwhile addition to the books on this topic, that is worth picking up, though don’t expect to be blown out of the water with new thinking.  It’s a long, hard road, the Christian life.  But we’d do well to walk in their footsteps.


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