Adam Hamilton, Making Sense of the Bible; Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today (New York: HarperOne, 2014), 324pp.
In 1990 Adam Hamilton founded the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, with four people. Today the COR is the largest United Methodist church in the country with 18,000 members. Along the way, Hamilton has written eighteen books, all of which in their various ways urge what he has elsewhere called a "radical center" that moves beyond the tired debates between evangelical conservatives and mainline liberals. In his introduction he says that he wants to find a center point between "minimalist" liberalism and "maximalist" conservatism. Elsewhere Hamilton has advanced the language of "liberal evangelical" or "evangelical liberal."
Like his other books, this one is rooted in Hamilton's twenty-five years as pastor of COR. He's passionately committed to living the Biblical story of redemption in Israel and the church. He reads the Scriptures every morning as the authoritative guide to his life. He's also done his scholarly homework as a careful student of Scripture. He listens to and ponders the questions of his parishioners, whether those of a dying child he's visiting in the hospital or an email from a university student. He's candid, wise, and non-polemical.
In the first half of his book, Hamilton considers the nature of Scripture. He surveys both the Old and New Testaments, and explains how we got our Bible. The second half of the book tackles a dozen hot topics like the Bible and science, the historicity of Adam and Eve, the flood, the violence of God in the Old Testament, suffering, homosexuality, women, the historical reliability of the gospels, and the book of Revelation. This is a reliable and popular-level treatment of complicated matters, with chapters like "The Old Testament in Fifteen Minutes" (seven pages). It's not a substitute for the heavy lifting of deeper study, nor would Hamilton ever make that claim. But it's a wonderful book you can give to friends with confidence that it will point them in the right direction.