Pacifism is not being passive
Christians have never agreed on what should be the Christian response to war but many believe that the gospel calls for an intentional pacifism. Dale W. Brown, a noted Anabaptist church historian, in Biblical Pacifism (Evangel Pub. House, 184 pages, $16.95 US) examines the meaning of nonviolent resistance, peace making and overcoming evil with good the author speaks clearly of his own conviction that pacifism never means being passive. Rather it is a positive and realistic pursuit of peace in the knowledge that, “the light of Christ is still shining in the darkness…that our salvation will only come as God’s power is manifest through our weakness.” A thoughtful read in the season of goodwill.
A balanced look at Islam
As Islam has moved more into the consciousness of the West it becomes necessary that caricatures be abandoned if understanding between Muslims and Christians is to become a reality. Islam In Context – Past, Present, and Future by Peter G. Riddell & Peter Cotterell (Baker Academic, 240 pages, $17.99 US) presents a balanced overview of the birth, historical development and tensions within Islam. Few Christians appreciate that Islam has as divisive a history as has Christianity. There are also “fundamentalists” on both sides of the divide whose black and white views about “others” can lead only to mistrust and violence. This is a book for those who genuinely want to understand the tensions within Islam and the difficulties that Muslims face as they interact with the modern world.
Slowing down at Advent
Love Came Down – Anglican Readings for Advent and Christmas compiled by Christopher L. Webber (ABC Pub/Morehouse Pub, 97 pages, $14.95) facilitates a daily quiet time for reflection during Advent, when everything seems to accelerate. It features passages by names many will recognize but not have read in such a context. For December 24th from a sermon by John Keble: “…in past years … we have kept so many of Christ’s birthdays, with hardly one serious thought of Christ, that we have enjoyed the carols, the holidays, the good cheer, the merry meetings, but never applied ourselves to repenting our sins, nor to serious thoughts of how we may learn to love him, who has so freely and wonderfully loved us.” Good reason to follow this pilgrimage which is thoughtful and refreshing.
Putting Jesus into context
Christians live lives like everybody else. They are full of ups and downs. Herbert O’Driscoll in God With Us (Path Books/ABC Pub, 173 pages, $18.95), with an insight and skill that people have come to expect of him, doesn’t disappoint as he writes about “the companionship of Jesus in the challenges of life.” He begins by assessing the context of Jesus coming into the world, his family life and circumstances concluding, “the complexity and subtlety of life is beyond understanding. This is precisely why we need the grace for living that is supplied by the Lord whose earthly life and experience was fully as human as ours.” He addresses the challenges that confront ordinary people and reveals how Jesus has already been there and is ready to share his life with others in healing and transforming ways. These meditations have a timeless quality.