Book reviews for Winter 2019
Japanese Understanding of Salvation / Expository Exultation / Third Culture Kids
Japanese Understanding of Salvation: Soteriology in the Context of Japanese Animism
By Martin Heisswolf (Langham Global Library, 2018). 702 pp.
Heisswolf, a German missionary to Japan since 1991, shares the fruit of his research for his doctoral thesis. He discusses Japanese views of gods, implications of the Japanese concept of soul, and ancestor veneration in relation to Christian beliefs. In this encyclopedic study, Heisswolf begins by exploring the context of salvation. He presents word studies on kami (神; god) and Japanese words for the soul. Part 2 focuses on “Peace as a Central Concept of Soteriology.” Here, Heisswolf considers the Japanese concept of peace, wa (和), before looking at the biblical concept. Part 3 is a wide-ranging discussion of “Four Aspects of Salvation in the Context of Japanese Animism,” which covers the theological aspects of the concept of sin as well as the cosmological aspects of divination and shamanism. He then considers the sociological aspects of the concept of shame and the anthropological aspects of sin and impurity. The final section discusses the dimensions of salvation. Here, Heisswolf discusses the animistic focus of salvation in this world (“this-worldly benefits”) and the differences with the Christian understanding of salvation.
The bibliography lists resources in Japanese, German, English, and French, with entries as recent as 2016, including an abundance of resources in German. We are indebted to Heisswolf for translating this book into English. He has a 33-page subject index, a Scripture index, and an 18-page index of Japanese words (both romaji and kanji). I appreciated the helpful discussions of ancestor veneration, collectivism, shame, and sin. The book contains an incisive analysis of Kazoh Kitamori’s “pain of God” theology. At times, however, I wished for a bit more integration (in the discussion of peace, for example). Heisswolf acknowledges the lack of practical application and says this is “the call for another book. This book-to-be must correct the bias of this present book on theory, if it wants to venture into missiological, pastoral, and social praxis” (p. 486). I look forward to Heisswolf’s next book.
Reviewer rating is 4 of 5 stars ★★★★☆
Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship
By John Piper (Crossway, 2018). 328 pp.
In this book, Piper asks, “What does it mean to preach [God’s] word, and how should we do it?” (p. 15). Piper aims to show “how preaching becomes and begets the blood-bought, Spirit-wrought worship of the worth and beauty of God. . . God’s purpose on earth will advance through Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered churches, where the gravity and gladness of eternal worship is awakened and rehearsed each week in the presence and power of expository exultation” (p. 21). Piper’s book will encourage and challenge all who preach God’s Word. As he states, “Preaching is not everything, but it affects everything. It is the trumpet of truth in the church” (p. 307). As Sinclair Ferguson’s endorsement notes, “Here is a book about preaching in which God himself takes center stage. . . [This book] makes us want to be and do better for God. It is simply a must-read for every preacher of the gospel.”
Reviewer rating is 5 of 5 stars ★★★★★
Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds
By David C. Pollock, Ruth E. Van Reken, and Michael Pollock (Nicholas Brealey, 2017, 3rd edition). 460 pp.
Van Reken and Michael Pollock (son of the late original co-author) have updated this global classic (1999). Skype and Facebook were not around when the book first came out. This new edition addresses the impact of technology and cultural complexity, and it has an expanded section on transition. Michael focuses on how parents and organizations can develop a “flow of care” that “will support families from the first day of their cross-cultural assignment through reentry and resettlement” (p. xvi). They look at new strategies to help today’s third-culture kids better maximize the strengths of their upbringing. They have added a new section (“Expanding our Vision”) in most chapters as well as questions that can be used for personal reflection or group discussions. The book has a helpful list of resources (organizations; websites; blogs, forums, chats, and Facebook pages; publishers; books, including books for children and teens; DVDs; movies; and plays). This book is for all mission organizations, third-culture kids, and their parents to learn from. Adult TCKs and their spouses will also benefit.