The Round Up: April

Each month the research assistants at Evangelical Alliance NI are sharing their thoughts on a variety of podcasts, books and videos that have taken their interest. Here they discuss three resources that have challenged and encouraged them, and they recommend that you invest some time exploring them too.

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The Bible Project

The Bible Project came to our attention in the office recently and it didn’t take long for each of us to see the value of the resource. The creators have produced short, fully animated videos to make the Biblical story accessible to everyone; from the new Christian right through to someone who has been a Believer for as long as they can remember.

This website offers simple and concise videos into every book in the Bible. Videos ranging 5-10 minutes guide the viewer through books and passages which are often confusing on the first read. Aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate, the website is the perfect way to familiarise yourself with any book of the Bible, whilst providing much needed context and insight into a given passage.

One section of the website which I found particularly useful was “how to read the Bible.” This informative page simplifies the complexity of the Bible in a way which is approachable but informative. Detailing each literary style, this section explains that the Bible cannot be read the same way throughout; Some sections are narrative, some are poetry and some are simply letters. They should be approached in this light, meaning that historical context and tone of writing throughout the scriptures is immensely important when trying to make sense of the message the writer is trying to convey.

We recommend this easy to navigate website to believers, non-believers, small groups, questioners and everything in between to help us understand the redemptive story of the bible which we are all a part of.


God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis

Although this book was written in 2005 and comments through the lens of the 2004 US presidential election, the wider themes of the book still communicate several relevant and strong messages as Wallis challenges the reader on their perceived political stance and how we should outwork this in the public square. 

In part two of the book, Wallis talks about moving on from the politics of complaint and calls on us as Christians to offer a prophetic vision for politics. We can easily dismiss political leaders and institutions by becoming disgruntled with the way things are and the direction our politicians appear to be leading us, especially when secular culture seems to be the driving force for their agendas rather than their own personal convictions. Instead of complaining about the state of politics in our nations, Wallis encourages us to offer a prophetic vision for our nations and politics. A prophetic vision is a better vision for politics. Instead of merely protesting against what our Prime Ministers and Presidents are currently offering us, we must engage in politics by asking God to give us insight into his heart for this space which does lead to a transformation vision.  

If we’re to change the direction we’re going in, we need to know the direction we want to go in, and this is the prophetic vision that Jim Wallis is referring to. When we understand the vision that God is calling us into, the values that we are to embrace follow. These values must formulate the fabric of our politics. This is a politics that demonstrates honour and integrity – characteristics that boast of God's Politics

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Vocation & the Common Good by James Davison Hunter

We’ve recently been listening to the Vocation and the Common Good podcast, hosted by Phillip Lorish at New City Commons in Virginia. In this podcast, Lorish talks with Christians who’s vocational pursuits have led to meaningful contributions to culture and the common good.

The first episode was an interview with James Davidson Hunter, Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, discussing his 2010 work ‘To Change the World.’ The interview framed this series of podcasts and centred around discussing possibilities for Christians to express faithful presence in the modern post-truth world. How do we occupy the space we are in well? James Davidson Hunter also suggests we need to love better - with our model being Christ himself.  He points out, “God calls us to work, we have to and need to work - but we must do it unto God in worship, and therefore we do it with excellence. To love God, our work and our neighbour, means we are fully and faithfully present to our work and to our sphere of influence whatever that happens to be.”

This podcast series explores how to be faithful to the call God places upon our lives. Throughout the series Philip Lorish speaks with people in a variety of fields to explore how we can use our skills and talents within our vocations, to bring glory to God. 

What does it look like to be faithful in the field of law, politics, education? How can we be faithful in our vocations? What does love require?