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Editors’ Picks Issue 13

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Destroyer of the Gods

Larry W. Hurtado
(Baylor University Press)

The early Christians’ contemporaries branded them irrational, simple, wicked, hateful, obstinate, and antisocial. The new religion was so different from the pagan religions of its day that it wasn’t even recognized as one; Christians were called atheists. Most notably, adherents were actually expected to behave differently, and unlike Judaism, the movement transgressed ethnic and social boundaries. This scholarly yet readable survey tells the unlikely story of the movement’s explosive growth, often through the words of its critics and detractors.

Today, many of the beliefs and practices that were distinctive back then are commonplace. Who believes in dozens of gods anymore? But modern Christians have much to learn from our foreparents’ spunk and distinctiveness. There are more than a few new idols and false gods to be toppled.

Cover image of Destroyer of the Gods by Larry W. Hurtado Destroyer of the gods

12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

Tony Reinke
(Crossway)

The smartphone, which didn’t even exist a few years ago, has become an indispensible tool in your work to serve Christ and lead others to him – at least, that’s what many believe. But you have likely also abused it, and if you haven’t worried about how this powerful technology is shaping your habits, your mind, your relationships, and your spiritual life, you probably ought to.

In this incisive, thoroughly researched, and thoughtful book, Reinke, a Christian journalist and self-professed phone addict, uncovers more pits and snares than you may care to acknowledge (distraction, fear of missing out, craving approval, becoming harsher, secret vices, etc.). But such self-examination is essential if we are to live healthy and balanced lives in the digital age. Reinke lets us draw our own conclusions, but the implication is clear: If we don’t approach this intentionally and take some practical steps to resist, we will get washed downstream.

Cover image of 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You  by Tony Reinke 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

Now I Walk on Death Row

Dale S. Recinella
(Chosen)

A Wall Street finance lawyer ends up on death row. He calls it the work of the Holy Spirit (and a raw oyster, but that’s another story). In this reverse Horatio Alger tale, Recinella, his wife Susan, and their children decide Jesus meant what he said, but when they announce that they are ready to leave behind the good life to serve Jesus full-time, their bishop tells them they are overzealous. Recinella recounts the adventures that follow, including stints here at the Bruderhof and at other communities, which finally lead him to his life calling: ministering to the men on Florida’s death row. He accompanies many to their death and even witnesses a botched execution.

Recinella, a one-time Plough editor who recently stopped by our offices, has also written a definitive theological work on capital punishment, The Biblical Truth about America’s Death Penalty, and a Catholic guide to prison ministry, When We Visit Jesus in Prison.

Cover image of Now I Walk on Death Row by Dale S. Recinella Now I Walk on Death Row
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