“Interpreting the Prophets” – Dr Aaron Chalmers

AaronAaron recently received this endorsement for a book he has written which focuses on interpreting the prophetic literature. This is based on the Old Testament prophets exegesis class he teaches at Tabor Adelaide.

I am singularly excited about the potential of this book to help people understand the Old Testament prophets. The explanation of prophecy’s distinctive genre, historical setting, rhetoric, theology, and significance is engaging, informed, and insightful. If the prophets seem confusing and irrelevant to certain readers, or primarily about contemporary events in the Middle East to others–and if the church wants a user-friendly corrective to the misunderstanding–this is it. Every pastor and teacher seeking to nourish the church through messages from the prophets needs to drink deeply from Chalmers’ well. (Further, if scholars want a model for writing interpretive guides for other biblical genres–this is it.) Misinterpretations of prophecy have historically been a major contributor to partisanship in the body of Christ. I hope and pray that this book will help to stem the tide of disunity (and disobedience to our Lord’s instructions).

Brent Sandy (Wheaton)

Book Review: Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church

many colours

Author: Soong-Chan Rah
Publication details: Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL.

Summary: Many Colors presents a framework for developing cultural intelligence employing theological, anthropological and sociological principles grounded in a biblical worldview. Cultural intelligence (or competence) incorporates “knowledge, experience and ethos” (p. 14) and provides the environment in which multicultural ministry can be developed and nurtured. The book is organised into three parts: a biblical theology of culture as a corporate social construct based on the imago Dei and the missio Dei at work in all cultures; the concept of cultural intelligence and its importance in multiethnic church; the application of cultural “intuition” (p. 192) when working cross-culturally, the challenges that need to be addressed and systems thinking for systemic change.

Evaluation: Rah has written a thought provoking book strongly challenging our mono-cultural church paradigms from his perspective as a Korean-American, a pastor and a professor of church growth and evangelism. Although the book is written in and for the American context, the central theme (developing cultural intelligence to build multi-ethnic churches) is relevant to Australia as we grapple with ministry in our increasingly diverse, multi-cultural communities. Rah challenges readers to reflect on their own cultural assumptions/frameworks and develop a multi rather than mono (i.e. western) cultural worldview. He suggests a ministry model where the knowledge, experience and ethos from experts within ethnic communities is sought rather than imposing Westernised cultural concepts of ministry onto the marginalised. Many Colors is a helpful resource for those seeking tools to understand cultural diversity and engage with the multi-cultural Australian community.

Reviewed by Lesley Houston- TESOL Coordinator Tabor Adelaide

Available at http://www.amazon.com/Many-Colors-Cultural-Intelligence-Changing/dp/0802450482

Book Review: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us

Author: Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg
Publication details: Downers Grove: IVP, 2005

Summary: Calhoun uses ‘WORSHIP’ as an acrostic to organise over 60 spiritual practices  drawn from the breadth of the Christian tradition into 7 groups: ‘Worship’, ‘Open myself to God’, ‘Relinquish the false self’, ‘Share my life with others’, ‘Hear God’s word’, ‘Incarnate the love of Christ’, and ‘Pray’. For each practice she includes a tabled summary, a few pages of discussion, reflection questions, practical steps to help the reader experience the discipline, and finally a list of further resources. The book also contains an excellent introductory section on exploring desire, and useful appendices on a variety of related issues, such as suggestions for spiritual mentors and postures for prayer.

Evaluation:  Urging people to just ‘pray and read your bible’ is rarely a helpful approach to encouraging the  vital nurturing of spiritual health; natural variance in spiritual temperaments and life seasons mean people are looking for a whole host of ways to foster spiritual authenticity in their journey. Whereas texts such as Foster’s Celebration of Discipline or Willard’s Spirit of the Disciplines focus on just a few classic disciplines and require a concerted effort to work through,  Calhoun offers a highly accessible pathway into a wide range of spiritual practices that lay people can flick through and use as an entry point into further discovery. She maintains a healthy balance between personal and communal practices, and includes practices such as ‘Unplugging’ which have particular contemporary relevance. Every faith community should have a copy in their resource collection. Highly recommended.

 Reviewed by: Bruce Hulme

Lecturer in Spirituality and Practical Theology, Tabor Adelaide


Breaking Calabashes: Becoming an Intercultural Community

book review

Author: Rosemary Dewerse
Publication details: Adelaide, SA: Mediacom Education Inc, 2013

Summary: Framing her book around the true Maori story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai, Rosemary Dewerse invites readers to confront ideas of what is acceptable and unacceptable in their communities and to break culturally ingrained mindsets. Rosemary challenges a static concept of multiculturalism and argues the dominant group, in particular, must be proactive in promoting interculturality. Each of the book’s four chapters addresses a particular ‘calabash’: Caring for Identity breaks down the concept that “stereotypes are useful for understanding people”; Listen to Silenced Voices challenges the tendency to think “my voice is most worthy”; the third chapter confronts the idea that “cultural ignorance is bliss” by inviting readers towards a life of Nurturing Epistemic Ruptures; the final chapter, Dealing in Justice, addresses the attitude that “our kind are better than your kind”.    Read More

Book Review: God and Human Suffering: An Exercise in the Theology of the Cross


Author: Douglas John Hall
Publication details: Minneapolis, Augsburg: 1986.

Summary: Hall is refreshingly reticent to provide “answers” to the problem of human suffering. “The trouble with most answers – including the answers that popular Christianity is ready to offer at bargain prices,” he says, “is that they are usually provided by persons who have not lived long enough with the questions.” Hall rejects the classical framing of the theodicy question as too preoccupied with a speculative understanding of God’s omnipotence. In any case, our task is not to try and justify God but to proclaim his profound love for the world and his suffering engagement with it: “There is not so much an ‘answer,’” Hall says, “ but…an Answerer!” Read More