Yesterday, we received word that Thomas G. Long’s What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith has won the Academy of Parish Clergy’s 2011 Book of the Year Award, an honor “given to the best book published for parish ministry in the previous year.”
In What Shall We Say? Thomas Long offers a Biblical, pastoral response to the thorny problem of God and human suffering — and to the painful questions even faithful Christians ask in the face of catastrophe: Is God all-powerful? Is God good? If so, how can God allow such devastation?
Long looks deeply into what preachers can and should say in response to these and other questions, offering biblically based approaches to preaching on theodicy that are guided by Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares and the “greatest theodicy text in Scripture” — the book of Job.
In addition to the Book of the Year, the Academy also named two Eerdmans titles to its 2011 Top Ten Books for Parish Ministry list: John Suk’s Not Sure: A Pastor’s Journey from Faith to Doubt and Resonant Witness: Conversations Between Music and Theology, edited by Jeremy S. Begbie and Steven R. Guthrie.
John Suk’s Not Sure is an eyes-wide-open, deeply personal voyage through the history of Christian belief. It began when John Suk — lifelong Christian, longtime pastor, and noted leader in the Christian Reformed Church — experienced a crippling crisis of faith, emerging from it with the gift of a second sight: doubt.
In Not Sure Suk looks back at Christian faith — in fifteen centuries of Christian history and in his own life — through a skeptic’s eyes. He exposes major pitfalls of modern Christian movements and questions what he considers to be faulty paradigms: the “personal relationship with Jesus,” the “health-and-wealth gospel,” and traditional ethnicity-based belief systems. In the end he is left clinging to what is for him a truer, wiser, more humble kind of faith in Jesus Christ.
In Resonant Witness editors Jeremy Begbie and Steven Guthrie gather together a wide, harmonious chorus of voices from across the musical and theological spectrum to show that music and theology can each learn much from the other — and that the majesty and power of both are profoundly amplified when they do.
With essays touching on J. S. Bach, Hildegard of Bingen, Martin Luther, Karl Barth, Olivier Messiaen, jazz improvisation, South African freedom songs, and more, this volume encourages musicians and theologians to pursue a more fruitful and sustained engagement with one another.
We offer our hearty congratulations to all four authors/editors — and our sincere thanks to the members of the Academy of Parish Clergy.
We will post a link to the Academy of Parish Clergy’s complete list of award winners and Top Ten honorees as soon as it becomes available online. The awards will be formally presented at the Academy’s annual conference, May 8-10, 2012, which will be held in Dayton, Ohio.