Even when it entails surreal all-nighters and renting vehicles for stalwart friends who meet us at 3 am to transfer boxes of books, the demanding work of lugging boxes out to conferences and setting up displays for events remains a thrill—rewarding and usually fun, once the brain-draining prep work is done. Arranging tables, draping and taping fabric, building shelves and laying out the hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of titles is daunting, but when the customers tell us how pleased they are to find good books—stories of the dearth of thoughtful Christian literature in local bookstores and church libraries abound—it is all worth it.
As you can guess, we enjoy mixing it up, selling books at all kinds of events, and feel like it is right and good to support those groups and ministries that seek us out. In most cases, we feel so honored to play a small role in the events of folks we’ve come to respect and admire. For instance, this weekend, we sold books at the Everything Must Change event with Brian McLaren at the Latino Pastoral Action Center in the Bronx, New York. Raising deep questions about the shifts of perspective needed to address with Biblical fidelity the most urgent issues of the day—poverty, environmental degradation, war—is the focus of this tour, and partnering with this renowned, New York-based, Spirit-filled, politically savvy urban ministry this time was a real treat. (Here is a brief essay about Rev. Ray Rivera and amazing work.) Thanks to McLaren and the good people at the LPAC, and the Latino emergent cohort there for allowing us to serve them by selling books. Thanks to my guys Scott, Damen and Bill for manning the display with gusto, talking up Hearts & Minds, and making books available that folk might not otherwise see.
We’ve written here often about the Biblical call to do justice, to be involved in transforming institutions that are broken, about how the imaginations of church folk should be unleashed to forge social innovations; we believe that the Biblical worldview and our best theological traditions call us to this. We are thrilled that Brian and his Everything Must Change tour team are helping stoke these fires, and we hope you bookmark the EMC interactive website the tour has generated. If you haven’t picked up Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis and a Revolution of Hope (Nelson; $21.99) yet, you really should. It usually sells for $21.99 but we have it here for $20.
At the same time this weekend, Beth and I and some other helpers were selling books at a huge event in Falls Church VA where the C.S. Lewis Institute hosted the internationally renowned apologist and Christian thinker Ravi Zacharius. (Do check out his website. What a rich and thoughtful resource.) We’ve sold books for Ravi before and it was a true honor to be with him again. We provided oodles of his own thoughtful books and many more about apologetics, evangelism, cultural engagement, theology and serious spiritual formation (not to mention quite a bit of Lewis, books about Lewis and all things Narnia.)
In his impeccable style of oration (tinged with that charming Indian accent) Ravi told powerful stories of seekers who’ve come to Christ, skeptics who have become convinced of the truth of the gospel, conversations he is having with persons of various religious views, all over the world. He told of death threats he gets (from radical Muslim groups mostly) and his compassion and faith in the face of very taxing speaking settings. It was delightful to hear of his ability to hobnob with the very richest and most powerful and how he is at home, often it seems, with the very poor, with common people from Bangalore to Singapore. He shared astounding stories of his lectures in the halls of world-class, post-Christian academia (his degree from Cambridge doesn’t hurt) and to congresses and parliaments of developing countries in Africa and Asia. When the atheist leadership of Albania asked him to make a case for the truth of the Christian worldview for a group of scholars and museum directors, they offered him a special treat—white gloves to handle the gold-painted 4th century parchment of the gospel written by John Chrystostom. (It was recovered in an archeological dig there in the 900s!) He opened to the page in Matthew where a woman pours extravagant perfume over Christ and the prophecy is given that her story will be proclaimed far and wide. Indeed.
Dr. Zacharias’ latest book is a cogent critique of the new atheists, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins et al., entitled The End of Reason: Responding to the New Atheists (Zondervan; $14.99.) The theme of his lectures, though, was taken from the subtitle of the recent volume of apologetic essays written by his RZM staff. That excellent book is called Beyond Opinion (Nelson; $24.94) and the subtitle is this: Living the Faith We Defend.
Living the faith we defend. In an age of increasing secularization and anti-Christian sentiment among the intellectual elites, we must know how to present the truth of the gospel in ways that are clear, compelling, and consistent with Biblical revelation. But, yes, yes, dear gentleman Ravi begged us, we must live it. The truths we teach in public must be true in our private lives as well. As he eloquently writes in his recent book The Grand Weaver (Zondervan; $18.99), God is at work weaving a coherent and deep purpose in our lives, and although we must learn to be articulate in our faith, we must first learn to see God’s own hand shaping us, molding and maturing us. Our evangelism must be rooted in good doctrine and sophisticated understanding but it even more must be lived in community with authenticity and integrity.
I know Ravi and Brian would not see eye to eye on every matter of doctrine and it seems they have very different understandings of the complex blessings and curses of postmodernity. They stand together, though, I am sure, in holding up the message of Christ’s cross as an entry into the Kingdom of grace where true life and lasting social change can be found. Our books, we hope, helped both of their events carry forth their unique take on Christian ministry. It was a privilege to serve them both.
Oh, by the way. I will tell you more later, but one book we took to both events is the brand spanking new work by Hearts & Minds friend and CSLI resident scholar, Art Lindsley, a book that uses the great Francis Schaeffer line that love is the ”
final apologetic.”Â Although Art’s approach is clearly more aligned with the rigorous and conservative Dr. Z, and perhaps suspicious of any movement that shifts away from historic orthodoxy on core doctrinal matters, his basic premise is one that is consistent with the best impulses of nearly every Christian reform movement, left, right or center, namely, that our deepest call to faith and repentance must be spoken in love. “By this all will know”Â¦”Â Jesus said. After two important InterVarsity Press books on apologetics, True Truth ($15) and C.S. Lewis’ Case for Christ ($16), Lindsley’s new book underscores the theme raised in slightly different accents by both speakers this weekend, Brian and Ravi: we must live out the faith we defend, and we do that in love.
I will write more soon about the unique insights of this very thought-provoking, substantive book—not only are there few books on love, there are none that I know of that does what this one does. For now, know that we premiered it at both events this weekend, and we have it here in stock at the shop. Love: The Ultimate Apologetic, The Heart of Christian Witness (IVP) $15.