I suppose you can get people presents that are other-than-books.
But why would you?
Justin Brierley: The surprising rebirth of belief in God
Justin Brierley is as good as anyone observing the fickle winds of fashion in thought.
For many years he hosted the podcast Unbelievable which moderated match-ups between atheists and Christians. Moderated is the right word, since Brierley kept the peace and ensured, most times, the conversations were fruitful. You can’t help thinking that if the BBC had the sense to match their reach, they would have headhunted him years ago, a brilliant natural broadcaster with unshowy erudition. Still.
This book takes us through some of what he’s learnt from his ringside seat watching thought-leaders’ wrestle. Mostly it’s a careful account of the disintegration of New Atheist teaching, and some notes on what’s replacing it. He finds a new respect for theism; a renewed respect for the Bible; and some of the people he’s met has, to their surprise, either become committed Christians or thoughtful and sympathetic observers of the Christian faith. It’s a fascinating contemporary summary, leveraging his superpower of finding influential thinkers and inviting them onto his show.
If you, like me, wander into bookshops and have been occasionally surprised by finding sympathy for the Christian faith in unexpected places, this book gives a comprehensive and better researched summary of the shifting weather. It’s super and (for the Christian) heartening.
Justin Brierley offers three exhortations to the church near the end of the book – three things to cling tightly to:
1. Faith and reason
2. The mystery – the Christian faith quickly wanders into a dark woodland of paradox, the beyond-understanding, the ancient, the gnarly, all accompanied by the sound of worship (‘Church bells beyond the stars heard’ George Herbert wrote). Some of those turning to the faith enjoy all this, much more than they do Christian pseudo-rock concerts, or people ‘being discipled’ through a short course of study.
3. A forgiving, accepting community, a powerful force, now that social media has made witch-burning popular again in the outside world.
Super book for anyone wanting to keep up. Grab a copy.