Books Reviewed and Recommended

Reading, Etc.

Turning Points in American Church History: How Pivotal Events Shaped a Nation and a Faith


That the book’s foreword comes from Mark Noll should surprise no one. This new history text forms essentially an American Christianity installment within Noll’s Turning Points universe, established by his ubiquitous book, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. In Turning Points in American Church History, Elesha J. Coffman of Baylor University offers 13 events, ranging from the 1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada to Roger Williams’ banishment in 1635 to the Scopes Trial in 1925 to the 1980 presidential election of Ronald Reagan. As the book’s forbearer does on a global scale, Coffman suggests that each of these moments reshape part of the American Christian identity and experience. Out January 30

Full-Time: Work and the Meaning of Life


David Bahnsen is a big voice on work, on television, in the stock market, and behind the scenes with a handful of nonprofits. It’s his life, and in his new book, he suggests work is your life, too. Not the totality of your life, but not an extractable part, either. In Full-Time, Bahnsen suggests that the in-vogue separation of individual identity from what the individual does is a flawed conception, one that wreaks havoc; as a symptom, Bahnsen points to widespread social isolation. The better way, for Bahnsen, is to reunite work — “effort, service, striving” — with the worker. Because it’s in the work, he says, that workers find their divine purpose. Out February 6

We Shall All Be Changed: How Facing Death with Loved Ones Transforms Us


Everyone dies, we know. Yet few are prepared for death when it comes for a loved one. That’s what happened to journalist and occasional Common Good contributor Whitney Pipkin when her mother received a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Grief both arrived and was yet coming, and Pipkin didn’t find the guidance to help her through. Now she’s written We Shall All Be Changed as that guide for those who find themselves where she was. To teach what she learned and to testify about God’s presence in the dark parts of life. Not only God’s presence, but God’s work. Pipkin proposes that death’s transformations are not only for the dying but for those who live alongside them and after them. Death comes for all, we know, and it is always a sad and tragic thing. But Pipkin doesn’t want you thinking that the slow suffering of loss has to be lonely and purposeless. Out February 6

May We Recommend

Working from the Inside Out: A Brief Guide to Inner Work That Transforms Our Outer World

(IVP 2023 $18)
In Working from the Inside Out, Jeff Haanen sets out to mend what’s been torn asunder. He works from the idea that, as individuals and as a society, we’re disintegrated  emotionally, relationally, intellectually, and otherwise. A solution? A fully formed embrace of vocation. Out December 13

Faithful Work: In the Daily Grind with God and for Others

(IVP 2024, $15)
The idea is relatively simple: God is in the business of making all things new, and to a lesser degree so are you. Because, argue Chapman and Tafilowski, a full understanding of God’s work in the world reveals his plan for human work — especially how the two fit together. Out January 9

The Sacredness of Secular Work: 4 Ways Your Job Matters for Eternity (Even When You’re Not Sharing the Gospel)

(WaterBrook 2024, $25)
Common Good favorite Jordan Raynor argues winsomely that work — your contributions to the world around you, money-making or not — is a central part of God’s plan for the world. It’s both your way to participate and an activity that delights God. Out January 30

Biblical Responsible Investing: Insights for Kingdom-Minded Investors

(Morgan James Faith 2024, $12.99)
The impetus for Biblical Responsible Investing and the 11 principles that give it shape, reportedly, was an executive brief to help “Wall Street executives” understand Christian approaches to financial decisions. This book presents these principles back to Christians as a model, a framework really, of faithful investing. Out February 15

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