Strange New World

How thinkers and activists redefined identity and sparked the sexual revolution.

Book by Carl R. Trueman

Reviewed by Mike

This book is about the history of ideas. Trueman sets out an outline of Western Thought, looking at philosophies like the Romantics, Nietsche, Marx, Oscar Wilde and others and traces their ideas through to present-day identity politics.

As a Christian I can feel quite disoriented with the modern western worldview. I think a lot of my friends and family, if you asked them questions like: ‘what does it mean to be human?’ or ‘how do you find your identity?’ their answers would be very different from what mine would be. Their view points on things like religion and free speech would be different from mine too. This book really helps you to get oriented on where some of that thinking originated, and what’s going on behind some of those thoughts, as well as some of the implications it has for our world and our society and for Christians too, going forward. It’s largely not a ‘Christian’ book - as you read it, most of it will feel like reading a history of ideas - but there are some parts that are very helpful in prompting thinking about how we might respond to some of these ideas as Christians, and how the gospel might speak into them.


Trueman himself is a Christian, and a historian. He wrote a very big book called The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self all about this kind of topic, and it was so good, but so big and dense, that people asked him to write it again, but simplified and more accessible - which is this one.


I would definitely recommend this book - it’s not mega-easy to read, but it is quite accessible. It’s maybe not the sort of book that would peak the interest of every kind of person - but if it sounds interesting to you, then it’s probably something you’ll find very interesting and very helpful. I think what I have valued most from this book is it has helped me to understand the world I live in more clearly, and that in turn helps me to apply the Bible more precisely when I am writing talks.

Brave by Faith

Book by Alistair Begg

Reviewed by Mike Pasquale

’For a few hundred years in the West we have been able to kid ourselves that the normal experience of God’s people is to be considered respectable and honourable, to be able to voice our views in the public square and be welcomed, and to be able to speak to those in power and be listened to. It was not ever thus, and it is no longer thus. We are back to the normal experience of the church: facing opposition and being called to stand firm and undergo suffering for our faith.’

In this little book, Alistair Begg takes us through the first seven chapters of Daniel. It’s a very realistic book, acknowledging that our leaders and our culture is, more and more, living as if autonomous from God, and how this will mean people seeking to live faithfully to God, as Daniel was, will increasingly face pressure to conform, or be marginalised, forgotten, mocked or worse. But it’s also a very un-panickey book; and Alistair, in a very reassuring and confident way, reminds us that our God is eternal and is sovereign over all things, and encourages us to draw lines, speak out, serve well, stand firm, and take heart, throughout all the phases we might go through as Christians who are not yet home - but are on their way there.

Click the button to buy a copy for yourself, or look out for my copy at church and feel free to borrow it!

What God has to say
about our bodies

Book by Sam Allberry

Reviewed by Anika Pasquale

Sam Allberry helpfully wades through a topic that I feel is often really confusing for Christians! This book is theological but by no means heavy. It is not prescriptive (which I find tempting to look for in books about the body), but rather very clearly explains foundational, biblical truths about our bodies. That being said, the book is not vague or general, but does get practical for Christians. 


I definitely learned new things -- some surprising, some challenging, some encouraging -- and learned where I might go in Scripture to understand more. Allberry includes many helpful references to other books, as well. I would like to see more Christian books like this, but I plan on reading this one again.

...or, look for the copy you can borrow next time you're in the church building!


Book by Stephen Lungu with Anne Coomes

Reviewed by Anika Pasquale

Christian autobiographies have greatly encouraged me in my own walk of faith, this one being no exception. This book is Stephen Lungu’s own story of how he became a Christian. His story is straightforward but capturing. It’s an extraordinary but genuine account, so you feel like you're listening to an ordinary Christian that you can relate to.


In the first several chapters, he shares unbelievable stories about his life before he met Jesus. As thrilling as this first part of the book is, the majority of the book which details his life after becoming a Christian is no less exciting. It’s thrilling seeing from a bird’s eye view what God did in his life; it’s a reminder that the same power works throughout all Christians’ lives. As you read, I think you’ll be encouraged by Stephen Lungu that God is always lovingly moving in all of our lives to make them beautiful and glorifying to him.


I’d recommend this book to anyone, especially if you feel discouraged about God’s involvement in our world today, or if you are thinking about evangelism, or if you’re looking for an uncomplicated read with a real-life story. I’d also recommend this book to teenagers to learn more about our global church and international missions.


...or, look for the copy you can borrow next time you're in the church building!


Book by Daniel Darling

Reviewed by Mike Pasquale

'A person's a person, no matter how small'.
Daniel takes this quote from Horton Hears a Who and shows how we find this principle in the Bible. Every human being is made by God, in the image of God, and therefore has a dignity within them that cannot be lost or taken away; no matter how the world around us might measure them. 

He then takes this principle to various areas of modern society: race, nations, start of life, justice, prisons, immigration, death, disease, healthcare, work, poverty, identity, sexuality, marriage, technology, pluralism, the State, religious liberty, & politics. He looks at how the way our society and us can treat others in a manner that does not recognise their dignity, as humans made in the image of God. And he thinks about how the church, if they were to grasp this principle well, and if they were to follow the words and example of Jesus in the Bible, could start a movement for preserving and honouring dignity in a way that no other organisation could.

The Dignity Revolution is written in an American context, and there are a few parts that definitely feel more applicable to the USA - however, these are few and far between, and overall this book is a really helpful book. It's easy to read, in that the chapters don't take long and they're easy to understand - but it will also challenge you in your attitudes, thoughts, views and behaviour towards people who are different from you.

I found this book surprisingly helpful, especially in how it walked the line between preaching the word about God's kingdom, and loving others within our communities. Often, people who want to do one can be wary of doing the other - but this book really helps its readers to look at Jesus, and how he did both, and how as individuals and churches, we need both in order for people to see how the gospel restores and honours the dignity of all who are made in God's image.   

The Book Your Pastor Wishes You Would Read (but is too embarrassed to ask)

Book by Christopher Ash

Reviewed by Anika Pasquale

The topics in this book draw a lot of attention to pastors, hence the title of the book. Thinking about pastors past and present, it helped me think about how I view and treat my pastors. It was helpful to be reminded just how human pastors are! But also of what can be rightfully expected of a pastor, which truly does come with high standards.


As much as the book draws attention to pastors, there is no less attention given to church members. I found it helpfully specific in understanding how a church member plays their part in a healthy church, particularly how we relate to our pastors, which is easily underestimated or ignored.


The book will keep your attention with lots of stories and examples to think about or relate to. At the end of the book, there are wonderfully thoughtful questions that you can ask your pastor to help you get to know him better.


Christopher Ash wrote this as someone with long experience as a pastor, a church member, and a friend to many other pastors, as well as an observer of many churches. Nevertheless, most credit is due this book because of the biblical standpoint that every topic is addressed from.

God of All Things

Book by Andrew Wilson

Reviewed by Anika Pasquale

Andrew Wilson introduces the book with a question: Why did God make things? He could have made an entirely spiritual universe, but instead he filled it with things. Objects.


This book works as a daily reminder that all creation worships God. It educated and inspired me on how to take a more conscious, active part in that worship. The structure of the book works wonderfully as a daily devotional or supplement to daily Bible reading. It is very grounded in Scripture but not theologically overwhelming.


Wilson himself says it best what the book is about: “We worship a God of things. The cosmos is filled with them: everyday, mundane, quotidian, humdrum, ordinary things. Sometimes they delight, sometimes they exasperate, and sometimes they escape detection altogether, but whether quietly or loudly, they insistently point beyond themselves to the God who made physical stuff. Everything in creation tells us something about our Creator. […] One of my dreams in writing this book has been that you, driving to work or breastfeeding a child or taking a lunch break, might look around you and see reasons to worship that you hadn’t noticed before.”


My experience reading Wilson’s book is that God answered his prayers in writing something to inspire this kind of worship. I’m very thankful for this book and will definitely come back to it.


On a side note, I found the Foreword by Jen Wilkin more helpful after having read the whole book. It is quite a deep dive before even starting the book, so I found it a bit disorienting and confusing regarding what the book would be about.