Contenders for Australian Christian Book of the Year
Several Eternity guest writers headline this year’s shortlist
Sparklit has announced its ten-title shortlist for the 2023 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award. Only one book will join the list of winners, which includes previous awardees The Forest Underground and Being the Bad Guys. But each is recognised as a significant contribution to the church in Australia and beyond. The nominees are:
Behind the Tears, Bruce Robinson
In Behind the Tears: Understanding, Surviving & Growing From Suffering, Dr Bruce Robinson explores the profound questions that accompany our experience of suffering.
Why does God allow suffering? How can we survive it and grow through it? How can we care for our neighbours and loved ones when they suffer? From grief, bitterness and anger to cancer, mental illness and chronic diseases, Robinson asks the questions behind the tears.
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Biblical Critical Theory, Christopher Watkin
In 2022, the late Timothy Keller wrote that he had been calling for years for a comprehensive Christian social theory, dubbing Christopher Watkin’s book “exactly what I had in mind.” With a foreward written by Keller, Biblical Critical Theory has enjoyed impressive buzz for such a thorough and ambitious undertaking.
In a recent review for Eternity, Natasha Moore listed ‘Five things to take away from this very big book you should definitely read.‘
“Rather than showing off his virtuosity,” Moore wrote, “[Watkin] wants to take us along with him on his quest to understand (in the words of the book’s subtitle) ‘how the Bible’s unfolding story makes sense of modern life and culture.’ He explains things with both care and verve, every step of the way, bringing the most complex ideas within reach and making the whole thing feel like a glorious adventure.”
You might also like to check out Watkin’s 2021 Eternity article.
Bringing Forth Life, Jodie McIver
Pregnancy and birth bring chaos and change to a woman’s body, identity and relationships. And beneath these physical and emotional challenges is something even deeper. Bringing Forth Life prepares readers physically, emotionally and spiritually for the joys and challenges of pregnancy, birth and life with a newborn, including the Christlike transformation these experiences promise. Combining biblical perspectives with contemporary women’s experiences and a midwife’s practical insights, McIver guides women and those supporting them through the journey of motherhood.
Disrupting Mercy, Matthew C. Clarke with Annabella Rossini-Clarke
In Disrupting Mercy, Matthew Clarke, along with Annabella Rossini-Clarke, explores the transformative potential of genuine mercy. With biblical analysis, personal anecdotes and reference to the author’s work in human trafficking research, Clarke sets aside transactional notions of mercy and lays out a compelling vision of substantial, disruptive, unconditional mercy.
How to Find Yourself, Brian Rosner
Brian Rosner, the Principal of Ridley College in Melbourne, literally wrote the book on the theme of personal identity in the Bible. Having endured his own identity crisis, Rosner argues that looking inward isn’t the answer. Challenging the status quo of ‘expressive individualism’ – the conviction that one’s true self is found by looking inward – Rosner’s How to Find Yourself holds up a more solid and joyful account of personal identity.
You might also like to read Rosner’s Eternity article, ‘Revealed: the people who are going to heaven‘.
Imagination in an Age of Crisis, Jason Goroncy & Rod Pattenden
What practical wisdom and insight do the Arts offer to faith and theology amidst the complexities of modern life? In Imagination in an Age of Crisis, various essays, poems and reflections, written by artists and academics from different cultures and traditions, explore the crucial role of the imagination in facing the impacts of globalism, climate change, pandemics and cultural upheaval.
Practicing Peace, Michael John Wood
We all know peace is attractive and important. But when conflict arises in our daily lives, we struggle to practice peace. Practicing Peace asks how we can live with greater integrity, exploring peace through the lenses of theology, contemplation and action. How can we embody the same restorative peacemaking that took Jesus to the cross?
Raising Tech-Healthy Humans, Daniel Sih
When should my child first get a smartphone? How can I create limits and foster healthy development? Written for busy, resource-stretched parents, award-winning author Daniel Sih’s two-hour handbook, Raising Tech-Healthy Humans, combines thorough research with practical strategies to promote life-long habits for children and pre-teens.
Religious Freedom in a Secular Age, Michael F. Bird
Should Christians preserve religious freedom by entrusting themselves to the protection of conservative leaders? Should they allow religious freedom to be steamrolled by progressive activists who are increasingly hostile toward people of faith?
Neither, Michael Bird argues in Religious Freedom in a Secular Age. Bird contends that there is space within a secular society to accommodate people of all faiths and none, and to resolve tensions between religious liberty and cultural movements. By exploring the nature, extent and limitations of religious freedom, Bird encourages Christians to own their faith in a post-Christian world.
The Future is Bivocational, Andrew Hamilton
In his twenties, Andrew Hamilton read about a fellow pastor in his state who was employed as the school bus driver, as well as leading his local church. “Wow,” he thought. “How sad that you finished up at a church that couldn’t afford a ‘real pastor’.”
Now Hamilton runs an irrigation business while leading a Baptist church, finding the combination fruitful both for missional engagement and for the development of church leadership that relates well to everyday challenges.
The Future is Bivocational advocates for bivocational mission and ministry in the Australian context, combining stories, theological reflection and insights from practitioners with simple practical advice for pastors, churches and Bible colleges considering a bivocational future.