April Publications

Lee Strobel, whose bestselling The Case for Christ has become a standard work of evangelical apologia, was once not a Christian at all, and was openly hostile to the faith. When his wife, Leslie, became a Christian several years into their marriage, he was furious, and their union seemed doomed until "Leslie figured out how to live out her faith in a way that began to attract rather than repel [him]." In Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage, the Strobels describe their experiences in order to help other Christians—particularly women—who are married to nonbelievers. Although their own ending (culminating in his conversion) followed the Christian storybook, they caution readers that it is better to concentrate on one's own spiritual growth and example than to have unrealistic expectations about a spouse's future conversion. (Zondervan, $12.99 paper 272p ISBN 0-310-22014-9)

In A Love That Dares to Question: A Bishop Challenges His Church, retired Australian bishop John Heaps discusses some of the issues facing the Roman Catholic Church today, including celibacy, the shortage of priests, women's ordination and the role of the laity. Heaps expresses concern for what he calls a "closed fearful mentality" that has seized the Vatican, preventing honest, open discussion of such issues. Heaps's voice can be strident, but his passion is matched by rigorous thinking and a generosity of spirit. Many Catholics will appreciate this firebrand from Down Under. (Eerdmans, $12 paper 127p ISBN 0-8028-3958-4)

Beth Moore has emerged as a popular speaker and writer in Christian circles, her Bible studies embraced by church groups across the country. Her latest full-length book, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things: Finding Authentic Restoration in the Age of Seduction, holds to her trademark conversational writing style (including the overuse of italics and hyperbole). Its message is disappointingly simplistic, choosing such easy targets as Internet pornography as evidence for satanic seduction, and even using diagrams of stick figures to prove her points. (Broadman & Holman, $19.99 320p ISBN 0-8054-2465-2)

A New Voice in New Thought?

While the names of Mary Baker Eddy, Ernest Holmes and Charles Fillmore are familiar to scholars of Christian Science and New Thought, the mention of Emma Curtis Hopkins is likely to elicit some blank stares. Yet this woman, argues Gail M. Harvey in Emma Curtis Hopkins: Forgotten Founder of New Thought, was something of a mother to the New Thought movement, evidenced by the fact that she taught both Holmes and Fillmore. As a biography, Harvey's book can be dry and dissertation-like, and she is sometimes too eager to cast Hopkins as an early feminist. Still, a study of this overlooked foremother of American religious history is long overdue and fills an important void. (Syracuse, $34.95 204p ISBN 0-8156-2933-8; May)

Helping the Needy

Middle-class Christians who wonder how to appropriately respond to poverty may enjoy the practical, specific suggestions in 101 Ways to Help People in Need, a guide by Steve and Janie Sjogren. For an evangelical book, it has a refreshing emphasis on social justice and is chock-full of concrete ideas. The Sjogrens begin with tips for immediate relief, such as providing backpacks to the homeless and used computers to low-income families. The next steps are a bit more demanding: helping needy persons to reconcile with God and each other, creating economic opportunities for them and, finally, "relocating" to serve them better (e.g., by using vacation time to assist with house-building). Down-to-earth and compassionate, this is a valuable guide to getting started. (NavPress, $8 paper 112p ISBN 1-57683-315-1; May)