Local books: Cuckoos in Our Nest, What was Jesus Thinking?, Asian Religion . . .

This is my fourth round-up of 2023, and there will probably be one more. Clearly the Christian community in Metro Vancouver is home to a good number of talented writers. The first round-up is here and the second here.

This week I will look at eight books covering a wide range of topics. The write-ups are generally from Amazon and publisher / author sites.

  • Iain Provan: Cuckoos in Our Nest: Truth and Lies About Being Human (Cascade Books)

Throughout the history of the Christian church there have been moments of significant theological crisis, and we are currently in the midst of another. But our pressing question is not “Who is Jesus?” (as it was in the 4th century) nor “How can we be saved?” (as it was in the 16th). Now it is, “What is a human being?” 

In many communities that claim the name ‘Christian,’ even people who can provide correct answers to the first two questions are currently confused when it comes to the third. This book is intended to help all such readers understand how they should, as faithful Christians, respond to this crucially important question, and how they should live as a result.

At the same time, it seeks to equip these serious Christians to recognize the non-Christian roots of the powerful, competing ideas of ‘the human’ that they encounter every day, both in contemporary society and in contemporary churches, and to have the courage to reject them. For these unbiblical ideas, when embedded in a church, do damage to Christian faith and life. They are destructive cuckoos in the Christian nest.

Iain Provan was Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada, from 1997 until 2022, when he retired and founded The Cuckoos Consultancy. He and his wife Lynette have four grown-up children, and numerous grandchildren. Iain was born and educated in the UK, completing his final degree (PhD) at the University of Cambridge in 1987. He has written numerous books, including Seriously Dangerous Religion and The Reformation and the Right Reading of Scripture. He is also a soccer coach; his main hobby is fly-fishing.

  • Jason Byassee, Albert Y.S. Chu, Ross A. Lockhart: Christianity: An Asian Religion in Vancouver (Cascade Books)

Is God changing the face of the church in North America today? The secularization thesis makes it appear that churches are inevitably declining in membership and influence. Too often, however, this assumption of decline is based on only watching the denominations that were ‘church plants of Western Christendom’ in North America.

Christianity: An Asian Religion in Vancouver focuses on the context of Vancouver, and notes through a mixed-methods study including interviews and participant observation that many churches in Vancouver with predominantly Asian composition are growing both in size and influence. ]

What might we learn about God’s transforming power by looking to Asia rather than Europe to predict the future of Christian witness in the Pacific Northwest of North America?

Go here for Ross Lockhart’s article about the book. Michael Wilkinson, Professor of Sociology at Trinity Western University, reviewed the book for Faith Today.

Jason Byassee is senior minister of Eaton Memorial Church, Toronto, and former Butler Chair in Homiletics and Biblical Hermeneutics at VST. Albert Chu is director of the Centre for Missional Leadership at St. Andrew’s Hall and the lead pastor of The Tapestry Church in Richmond. Ross Lockhart is dean of St. Andrew’s Hall and professor of Mission Studies at Vancouver School of Theology (VST).

  • Frank R. Stirk: What was Jesus Thinking? (Wipf and Stock)

No one could ever get fully inside the mind of Jesus, but we can gain important insights through a better understanding of the contexts in which he spoke and acted.

For example, with whom was he speaking and interacting in that moment? Where did this take place? How can the events of the history of the period in general, and the many new and often unexpected archaeological discoveries, in particular from the time of Jesus, enhance our understanding of what he was thinking? And what light can the answers to these and related questions shed on what we already know about Jesus from the Four Gospels?

This book attempts to provide some answers to these questions with the intent of leading the reader toward a deeper understanding of his wholly human yet wholly divine character. This in turn will hopefully create a deeper and more grounded faith.

Darrell Johnson wrote the Foreword to the book.

Frank Stirk is a retired journalist with close to 50 years’ experience in various Canadian and American media formats. He is a graduate of the Canadian Baptist Theological Seminary and College. He is the author of Streams in the Negev: Stories of How God is Starting to Redeem Vancouver (2019). He lives in North Vancouver.

  • David Ley: Housing Booms in Gateway Cities (Wiley)

In Housing Booms in Gateway Cities, renowned geographer Dr. David Ley delivers a detailed exploration of housing markets in Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Vancouver and London, and explains why these gateway cities have seen dramatic increases in residential real estate prices since the 1980s.

The author describes how the globalization of real estate has rapidly inflated demand and uncoupled local housing prices from local wages, causing acute problems of affordability, availability and inequality. The book implicates government policy in massive real estate price inflation, describing a shift from welfare-based to asset-based societies.

It also highlights the relatively unique experience in Singapore, where asset-based housing policy has encouraged the dispersion of ownership and accumulation through an increased supply of subsidized leasehold apartments and the regulation of disruptive investment flows.

Housing Booms in Gateway Cities is an ideal resource for academics, students and policymakers with an interest in urban geography, sociology, and planning, housing studies, and any of the cities discussed in the book. It is an innovative treatment of housing as a central category in wealth accumulation in urban economies and societies.

I posted something about his new book here.

David Ley is Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Millionaire Migrants: Trans-Pacific Life Lines and The New Middle Class and the Remaking of the Central City. He has been awarded the Massey Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the Association of American Geographers.

  • Paul DIrks: Deep Discipleship for Dark Days: A Manual for Holding Fast to What is Good (Ezra Press)

Ready, Set, Apocalypse!

Whether rapid societal changes come from the political, natural, technological or biological spheres, these historical occurrences urge us to live in such a way that we are ready with a faithful response. A constant, general preparedness, and a particular discerning of the times (1 Chronicles 12:32) are interconnected.

This book, published October 13, will at times call for a specific course of action in connection with particular apocalyptic-flavoured events, but for the most part it enjoins the importance of a deep discipleship for these dark days.

Paul Dirks is Lead Pastor of New West Community Baptist Church, where he has served for 11 years. He lives in New Westminster with his wife Rachel and their five children. Dirks has published on other topics including sexuality and gender at Public Discourse.

  • Matthew Etherington: Environmental Education: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Nature (Wipf and Stock)

This book has a single motif and a dual purpose. Its motif is the portrayal of influential authors within an environmental framework and worldview. The design is presented in different ways in which environmental issues might be understood.

The purposes are to engender in the reader a broad knowledge of some of the ideas and problems inherent in a discussion of nature and the environment and to stimulate the reader to go further into the sources of their tradition and worldview in search of meaning and insights that are uniquely relevant to their philosophy.

For an article about Etherington’s book and work go here.

Matthew Etherington is a professor in the School of Education and the director of the Institute of Indigenous Issues and Perspectives (IIIP) at Trinity Western University. He achieved his PhD in the philosophy of education from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, while completing doctoral research at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education COISE). His primary interests are in the philosophy of education, environmental and outdoor learning, Indigenous sovereignty, Elderhood and worldview analysis.

  • Jack A. Taylor: The Good Aunt (Friesen Press)

A young warrior woman somersaults off a horse with a dagger and javelin in hand, landing at Salome’s side and spinning her once again into the revolutionary cause and unresolved relationships and past conflicts. As the Romans continue their onslaught, the Zealots and Parthians fight back. Salome is caught up in the ensuing chaos where she’s reunited with her childhood friend and fellow freedom fighter, Nathaniel.

Salome’s nephew, Yeshua, emerges as the new Messiah. He performs miracles, drawing the ire of Roman leaders. Salome’s sons and other followers flock around him, upsetting family dynamics and general peace. Salome is also swept up into the Messianic fervor, but still struggles to find her place amidst all the change. She and Nathaniel are woven together tighter by the marriage of their now-adult children and then by dual tragedies. Their lifelong friendship takes a new turn while the quest for goodness continues to consume Salome like a dragon.

The Good Aunt is the final book of The Salome Trilogy.

Jack Taylor spent his early years as a missionary kid in Ecuador where his parents took up the call to replace five martyred missionaries. After marrying Gayle he relished 18years working with missionary kids in Kenya, Africa. He recently retired as pastor of Faith Baptist Church in east Vancouver, which welcomes 60 different nationalities into a multicultural mosaic. With a PhD in counseling and three masters degrees, he’s studied biblical history for 40 years, traveled extensively in Galilee, and written eight books set in this era and region.

  • Elias Nessim, Lionel Leslie: Messianic Vignettes from Kehilat Tsion

Kehilat Tsion has been founded on the conviction that Messiah has come, and that he is the Jewish Messiah known as Yeshua of Nazareth. We are a Messianic Jewish congregation, and believe that Yeshua is the Messiah written of in the Hebrew Scriptures. We desire to make him known in our world, and to live for him as individuals and as a community.

We were established in 1985 as Zion Messianic Fellowship. At that time we were founded by Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus of Nazareth) to testify among our Jewish community the good news of the Messiah, Yeshua – promised in the Hebrew Bible by Moses and the Prophets and declared by the first Shlichim (Apostles) in the New Covenant.

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