RESPONDblogs: Books that Inspired Me in 2015


Hey – would you mind if I share with you the 3 books that made a big impact on me in 2015?


FIRST – Shaped for Significance

Why do we do what we don’t want to do? How can I stop spending so much time regretting the habits which are pulling me downward in life? Is there any hope for experiencing freedom from this?

James Burn and Rachel Bennett give a roadmap through these difficulty and thorny issues that so many (honest) people will admit to. And they point us forward and give hope that…one day I WILL be all that God’s intended me to be.

It’s a great workbook – practical, but meaty too.

This book is published by Kingfisher Resources. It isn’t available on amazon right now…but it certainly should be!


SECONDRelativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air

I’ve noticed that whenever the subject of morality comes up in conversations between atheists and Christians, battle lines get instantly drawn. Language turns very pointed. And people start to talk in terms of certainties and…ironically…moral outrage is never very far away. This is a powerful topic!

I believe the moral argument for the existence of God to be incredibly persuasive. But whenever I try to explain why I think that, I always feel like the person on the other side of the discussion has always got at least one pin to burst my bubble with. I’ve always felt like I am playing catchup on something that just makes intuitive sense. Humans appeal to something beyond ourselves and our culture when deciding when something is immoral.

Clearly this has been due to my own lack of understanding. Because Beckwith and Koukl’s  book has transformed my understanding of the issues. I’m clearer than ever that the moral argument for God is powerful. But I’m more studied now when it comes to the typical misunderstandings that seek to muddy the clear waters.

For example – Beckwith and Koukl spend time on a very commonly held belief within the atheist blogosphere. This idea that, human morality is something that has evolved as part of human culture…and it’s there to help our society grow and flourish.

And the authors ask:

  • So are you saying then that people are MORALLY BOUND to follow the demands of society and its laws? What society are we talking about anyway?
  • How many human societies today and from the past have placed highly immoral demands on their population? By your assessment, if anyone challenges society’s demands…or seeks to reform that society…then that person must be held up as the most immoral person imaginable! Yet clearly the opposite has been true. When we look at human rights reformers throughout history, we view them as heroes, not immoral villains. Why is this? Because human society is not the ultimate human moral standard – there is always a higher standard that human beings intuitively appeal to. And this sounds very much like God.
  • If society determines human morality, then it is therefore impossible to reform that society because we are becoming immoral as we do. This is counter intuitive. No – to improve a society, we hold that society to an external moral standard…and we compare society with it as a measurement to see how we are doing.

This is such a brief snippet of their work here. It is brilliant. And I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a firmer grasp on a topic that sometimes feels like “a wet bar of soap in the bath”!


THIRDAgainst the Flow by John Lennox.

If you are someone who crosses their arms and says, “Prove to me that the Bible has ANYTHING relevant to say in the 21st century”, then my challenge to you is to read professor Lennox’s new book. It is such a scholarly look at the ancient Babylonian culture and background at the time of Daniel. You know…Old Testament Daniel…of “the lion’s den” fame.

Professor Lennox draws a striking parallel between that ancient culture…and our own in the West today. And he finds some great insight in the life of the man Daniel as he became someone of great prominence in that place at that time.

Babylon and Britain may seem far apart. Yet both are cultures where matters of faith are fine as long as they are kept private…and as long as no one is so ignorant to hold one faith system above any other. Yet in that toxic environment…Daniel lived and he worshipped God in a way that transformed that nation.

Daniel’s life and the choices he makes are a challenge to those of us today who are either

  1. seeking to live as a Christian, or
  2. seeking to undermine and side line Christianity entirely


I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Professor Lennox over the summer, and was struck again by his urge never to pitch REVELATION against REASON. Christianity is not irrational because it is built on the claim that God has acted and spoken in human history (Daniel’s story is part of that action). Rationalism is in a completely different category from God’s Revelation.

We use our reason when analysing and predicting the behaviour of the Universe God made.

But revelation does not come from the natural world – it originates beyond it.


Christianity is essentially a Super Natural worldview. And his revelation will often challenge our deeply held reasonable understanding of the Universe as we perceive it. That’s right – that’s what it’s supposed to do. Christianity is not anti-intellectual. It is simply a different, and Lennox argues, more logical worldview.

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I live in the UK, I'm married to Janet and I'm passionate about proposing a case for the historic Christian faith. You can find me on Twitter at @stuhgray.

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