Westmont Magazine Books in Print
Recent Works by Westmont Faculty Include Both Scholarly and Popular Volumes
“A Guide To New Religious Movements” Edited by Ronald Enroth (InterVarsity Press, 2005)
This revision of “A Guide to Cults and New Religions,” first published in 1973, has much new material. In his introduction, Ronald Enroth describes new religious movements and explains why he avoids the imprecise and pejorative word “cult.” The sociologist says less offensive terms promote more meaningful dialog with believers of nontraditional religions. “The purpose of this book, then, is to help serious, caring Christians compassionately understand several contemporary religious movements and equip them to introduce people in those groups to Jesus our Lord,” he writes. Chapters discuss the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Baha’i, the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism as well as yoga and its roots in Hinduism. Contributors, who are all evangelical Christians, also look into the spiritual power of neopaganism and the appeal of UFOs and New Age religion. Rather than providing an exhaustive list of new religious movements, the book focuses on groups active in North America.
“Christianity, Islam and Nationalism in Indonesia” by Charles Farhadian (Routledge, 2005)
Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world; more than 80 percent of the people embrace Islam. At the same time, Indonesians are extraordinarily diverse in their language, ancestry, culture, religion and ways of life. Charles Farhadian’s book examines the Christian Dani of West Papua. It provides a social and ethnographic history of the most important indigenous population in the troubled province. The book is written for a scholarly audience and presents a fascinating overview of the Dani’s conversion to Christianity, examining the ways they have applied their new faith in social, religious and political contexts. Over the years, the religious studies professor has conducted independent research among the Dani people, and he offers new material on religious and political events in the region. The complex relationship among Christianity, Islam, nation making and indigenous traditions unfolds throughout the work. “As this study shows, Christianity is not an ideological monolith, but eminently adaptable to a variety of local circumstances,” he concludes.
“The Old is Better: New Testament Essays in Support of Traditional Interpretations” by Robert Gundry (Mohr Siebeck, 2005)
The articles in this book by New Testament scholar Robert Gundry vary widely in topic but share one essential characteristic: They defend traditional interpretations, often in opposition to new ones. In the introduction, Gundry affirms the truth of his Christian faith, saying it is “universally true, not just true for the confessing community to which I belong.” In essays that discuss the canon, Christology, soteriology and the resurrection, he upholds beliefs considered fundamentally important from the standpoint of historical theology. He asks to be judged by his faithfulness to the New Testament text. Most of the scholarly articles have been published before, and Gundry has edited and updated them. His topics include “On the Secret Gospel of Mark,” “Salvation in Matthew,” and “Is John’s Gospel Sectarian?”
“How to Read Genesis” by Tremper Longman III (Inter Varsity Press, 2005)
Why should Christians read Genesis? “To understand our origins,” says Tremper Longman III. “To understand who we are, our meaning in life. To comprehend our place in the world, our relationship with other creatures, with other humans and with God himself. To recognize the significance of the rest of redemptive history culminating in the ministry of Jesus Christ.” In his newest work, the Old Testament scholar provides a strategy for reading Genesis. He looks at the book from various perspectives: literary, theological, Christian. He also considers it in its own world and discusses ancient literature. A companion work to “How to Read the Psalms” and “How to Read Proverbs,” the book on Genesis provides thoughtful insights for believers who want to deepen their knowledge of the Old Testament. Recognizing that Genesis can be difficult to understand, he reflects on the principles of interpretation that contribute to comprehending the implications of this foundational book of the Bible.
“Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality” Edited by Raymond Paloutzian and Crystal Park (Guilford, 2005)
A pioneer in the study of the psychology of religion, Raymond Paloutzian believes the time has come for this extensive scholarly work. As a young psychologist, he didn’t see anyone in his field addressing the issue of religion, so he made it a specialty. “Since that time, the importance of the study of the psychology of religion and spirituality has advanced to a degree that I could not previously have imagined,” he writes. Given this explosion of interest, the editors produced a comprehensive volume with topics ranging from the personal (neuropsychology) to the international (the role of religion in terrorism). The volume begins with a section on foundational concepts and research methodologies. Other chapters address developmental issues, neural and cognitive bases of religiousness, and associated practices and experiences. The concluding section considers the implications for individual and collective well-being. The handbook reflects the latest empirical research and state-of-the-science perspectives.
“He Has Made Me Glad: Enjoying God’s Goodness with Reckless Abandon” by Ben Patterson (InterVarsity Press, 2005)
Does God offer us infinite joy? Do we want too little in life instead of too much? Campus Pastor Ben Patterson answers,“Yes,” to both questions in this joyful book. He begins by making the case for “inexpressible and glorious joy” and identifies “joy busters.” He then describes the habits of joy, which include giving thanks indiscriminately, being in fellowship with other Christians, using words to build up and heal, and giving generously. The book concludes with the hope of joy, the much misunderstood concept of heaven. “Perhaps heaven’s most delightful prospect is that our humanity will be glorified in a way that lets us see and appreciate God fully; we’ll realize that nothing could be sweeter than simply to gaze at him and sing our approval,” he writes. Patterson draws on personal experiences and favorite authors throughout the book, and his anecdotes enrich the discussion.
“Early Christian Literature: Christ and Culture in the Second and Third Centuries” by Helen Rhee (Routledge, 2005)
From the beginning, Christians have faced the challenge of relating to the dominant culture. The earliest believers lived in the Greco-Roman world, which shaped their thinking. Helen Rhee explores the ways these Christians defined and represented themselves to their contemporaries. She focuses on three types of Christian writings: the Apologies, Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, and Martyr Acts. “It is to the credit of these three pioneering bodies of literature that the Christians seriously and intelligently articulated their place in the Greco-Roman soil,” Rhee writes. “The religious, social and political minority claimed the universal truth, ethos and rule that would eventually ‘take control’ of the world empire.” The scholarly book, which grew out of her doctoral dissertation at Fuller Theological Seminary, makes a contribution in two fields: the history of Christianity and Greco-Roman literary culture and civilization.
“In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare” Edited by Paul Willis and David Starkey (University of Iowa Press, 2005)
When English Professor Paul Willis and his co-editor David Starkey solicited poems for their volume on Shakespeare, they expected to get verse responding to a wide variety of the playwright’s works. Instead they received poetry that focused on only half the canon and primarily on six plays. “We were finding out what American poets were drawn to, right now, in Shakespeare,” they write. Ophelia in particular attracted a lot of “lyric attention.” The editors note the bard “still haunts the way we encounter our world, even our American world.” The book, which includes poems by 90 poets, devotes a section to “Hamlet” as well as to the sonnets, comedies, tragedies and romances. Titles include “Shakespeare as a Waiter,” “Hamlet Meets Frankenstein,” and “Lear Drives His Rambler across Laurel Mountain.”