The Jesus Scandals focuses on the scandals surrounding Jesus as a way to validate and better understand Jesus and the gospel accounts. Since the Bible was written by Jesus’ loyal followers, any negative or shocking events, teachings, or actions in scripture involving Jesus should reveal and confirm Jesus’ true opinions and actions that were widely known and, therefore, not something the disciples could easily cover up. About 30 scandalous topics are discussed varying from Jesus’ associations with particular uncouth people, to rumors that He was an alcoholic, to His teachings about Hell, and everything in between.
The book is split into three sections: scandals in Jesus’ life, scandals among Jesus’ friends, and scandals in Jesus’ teaching. Each chapter (scandal) is just a few pages long and can be read independently from the others making this an ideal book for a personal devotional study or a group Bible study.
While the author does have clear opinions throughout the book, I enjoyed that the text included room for personal thought and research. I was able to stay engaged and interested in each topic even in the few cases where my own perspectives did not quite match the bias of the author. In fact, it’s written in a way that even a mixed-faith discussion group could easily use each chapter to delve into friendly discussions or debates.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications.
Genre: Juvenile Fiction/Fantasy
I wish I could recommend this book because I’m a big fan of supernaturally oriented Christian fiction. But there were a couple theological issues in the story that bothered me: 1) the Christian characters had no power against the demonic realm and were frequently abused or tormented by the demons, and 2) the Christian characters had to keep their supernatural gifts a secret (especially from the demonic realm, lest their gifts be stolen and used for evil). Since this is juvenile fiction, I feel these are especially big issues. I want my own kids to know and see that they have power in Jesus against the demonic realm. And, though we shouldn’t flaunt our supernatural gifts for our own benefit, we should be actively using them to encourage other Christians and to evangelize to the world. We need more juvenile fiction that demonstrates the supernatural realm through a biblical perspective, and this was so close (the spiritual battle is described well, as is the spiritually tangible fear, and the metaphor of the power-giving halo), but it fell short.
I also found Dittemore’s use of the first person present tense really awkward and distracting. This is a much smaller issue, but it did prevent me from melting into the story.
Despite these setbacks, I did enjoy the characters and overall story. The heroine, Brielle, is a dancer who is dealing with the loss of a good friend, and I felt her struggle with why God allows suffering was presented very well. I also enjoyed the interaction between the humans and angels/demons and the balance of action and dialog. Dittemore is a creative storyteller with an excellent handle on human emotion–and I can tell she has a strong faith. I pray her future books will also have a more accurate handle on supernatural theology.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Thomas Nelson.
Genre: Spiritual Growth/Christian Living/Inspirational
This may be the most helpful book I’ve read on healing. Pastors Bill Johnson and Randy Clark–two of the most influential leaders in healing ministry–interview each other on their personal experiences with healing and miracles.
There is no fluff in this book–they get right down to the good stuff, especially concentrating on:
- their backgrounds and calling into healing ministry,
- what they’ve learned in the area of healing and miracles,
- the breakthroughs they’ve experienced which have led to an increase in healing,
- how they’ve developed their gifts and sensitivities to the Holy Spirit, and
- the greatest healing and deliverance miracles they’ve experienced.
I found it so encouraging to hear the progression of growth both these men have faced. They are so humble and candid in describing their experiences–I laughed out loud many times and was constantly sharing their stories with my husband as I read. This is definitely a must read for those wanting to go deeper in healing ministry or to step into it for the first time.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Chosen Books.