SparkLit | Australian Christian Book of the Year
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Australian Christian Book of the Year

Join us at the 2020 SparkLit Awards Night live stream!

 

The 2020 Australian Christian Book of the Year, Young Australian Christian Writer and Australian Christian Teen Writer Awards will be announced and prizes presented during this year’s SparkLit Awards Night at 7.30pm (AEST) on Thursday 13 August 2020. Join us from your own home to celebrate the courage and endeavour of our local Christian writers!

 

Register here to receive a link to this free event.

 

For more information, call us on 1300 13 77 25 or send us an email: admin@sparklit.org

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You can watch the entire 2020 SparkLit Awards Night broadcast from Melbourne on 13 August:

2020 Results

2020 Australian Christian Book of the Year puts Christianity on trial

 

For the Love of God: How the Church is Better and Worse Than You Ever Imagined, published by the Centre for Public Christianity (CPX), is the 2020 Australian Christian Book of the Year. The winning book is an honest and unflinching response to the question: “Would the world be better off without Christianity?”

 

Written by Dr Natasha Moore, with contributors John Dickson, Simon Smart and Justine Toh, this book accompanies a series of documentary films released in 2019. The CPX team has also produced a 90-minute cinema adaptation and resources for small group discussion.

 

The judges chose For the Love of God from a short list of ten books. “This bold yet balanced appraisal of the impact of Christianity examines both the best and worst of what Christians have done over two millennia. Natasha Moore and her collaborators confront the failure of those who claimed to follow Christ but were responsible for the Crusades, the Inquisition and the abuse of children. The ease with which Christians through the ages have ignored both the teaching of Jesus and the dissenting voices of contemporary prophets is a caution. The authors also show how—when they obey Jesus—Christians have contributed to what is beautiful and beneficial in culture and society. In a time of social media echo chambers, fact-free opinion bubbles and divisive culture wars, this sort of fair and generous commentary is invaluable.”

 

For the Love of God: How the Church is Better and Worse Than You Ever Imagined

Natasha Moore, John Dickson, Simon Smart & Justine Toh

Centre for Public Christianity

ISBN: 9780647530351

2020 Australian Christian Book of the Year Short List

 

These titles were shortlisted for the 2020 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award.

Shortlisted

Attending to the National Soul

Stuart Piggin & Robert Linder

Monash University Publishing

9781925835366

 

In this superb sequel to the 2019 Australian Christian Book of the Year, the authors continue their landmark account of the profound yet unrecognised influence of evangelicals in shaping modern Australia. It begins with the legacy of Mary Bennett, a determined and outspoken campaigner for the rights of women and Indigenous people. This volume is replete with stories of long-forgotten Christians and their response to the challenges posed by world wars, the decline of the British empire, secularism and their expanding missionary ambitions. A fluent work of national and international importance.

Shortlisted

Is Jesus History?

John Dickson

The Good Book Company

9781784983659

 

Did Jesus really live? Does it matter? The cheeky title sets the tone and thesis of the book. The author employs the same archaeological and literary methods used for the recovery of other historical figures to demonstrate that believing in the historical Jesus and the biblical record of what he said and did is reasonable. He examines both Christian and contemporary sources and builds his case logically and gently. As always, Dickson is absorbing and accessible. Edifying for curious believers and perfect for doubters and enquirers.

Shortlisted

I Will Avenge

P. Howard Smith

Morning Star Publishing

9780648453789

 

An angry and determined freedom fighter discovers freedom where she least expects it. After taking up arms in the Irish uprising at Vinegar Hill in 1798, Maggie Flannery is brutalised by British soldiers and authorities and transported to New South Wales. When Irish convicts rebel at Castle Hill in Sydney, Maggie is a servant in the house of Mrs Elizabeth MacArthur. This gripping yarn is based on meticulous research and honours the Irish contribution to Australian life. It deals thoughtfully with violence, suffering, revenge, justice, love and forgiveness, and the nature of God’s providence during a period of which most Australians are ignorant.

Shortlisted

A Lot With a Little

Tim Costello

Hardie Grant Books

9781743795521

 

An accomplished and respected leader explores what it means to be a Christian in contemporary Australia. Tim Costello traces his journey from a personal evangelical piety to his advocacy for the oppressed and leadership of World Vision. Many readers will be familiar with his upbringing in a Christian home in Melbourne’s Bible belt and his work as a lawyer and Baptist pastor. However, this book is also an illuminating snapshot of a divided nation and the portrait of a family that embraces debate and difference. Costello’s style is transparent and easy. There is much to admire and emulate.

Shortlisted

Metanoia

Anna McGahan

Acorn Press

9780647519837

 

In this brave and beautiful book, an actor and play­wright tells of her destructive experience with anorexia, drugs, bisexuality, promiscuity, cults, fame and disappointment until her meeting with Jesus and her change of heart. Anna McGahan’s transformation is miraculous yet her struggles are not over. The confession of her stumbling and wrestling with behaviour and understanding is encouraging. So too is her founding of The Fireplace, a fellowship for Christians in the performing arts, a group neglected by mainstream churches. McGahan’s story is as personal and painful as it is unique. This is a powerful testimony to God’s infinite mercy.

Shortlisted

Not Home Yet

Ian Smith

Crossway

9781433562778

 

Theology matters. This timely book overturns erroneous and sentimental views of our eternal home that erode both our future hope and present stewardship of the earth. The author reminds Christians that our hope is in the resurrection and the new heaven and earth, not in becoming disembodied spirits. Smith expounds the profound and practical implications of God’s mission to restore and redeem all things. Because God has not abandoned creation, neither must we disparage or abuse it. We can make no distinction between the sacred and secular; Jesus is Lord of all.

Shortlisted

Science and Christianity

Chris Mulherin

Garratt Publishing

9781925073515

 

An excellent introduction to one of the most critical and pervasive misunderstandings of our time ardently peddled by militant secularists: that there is an inevitable clash between science and religion. Chris Mulherin shows that this has never been true and cannot be true. In this illustrated textbook he explores the interplay between the role of science in revealing the wonders of our universe and the role of Christianity as a worldview that answers questions about the meaning and purpose of life. Mulherin engages with controversial figures (Galileo, Darwin, Dawkins) and divisive issues (evolution, genetics, climate change) with clarity and grace.

Shortlisted

A Short Book About Paul

Paul Barnett

Cascade Books

9781532665547

 

In his own lifetime and throughout the history of the Church, the Apostle Paul has been misinterpreted, misunderstood and vilified. In this succinct biography Paul Barnett both demolishes myths and presents what we can reasonably conclude about the Apostle, his milieu, thought and influence. Paul emerges as a warm-hearted man who loved his friends (both men and women) and the clusters of new believers across five Roman provinces. By demonstrating that atonement theology predates Paul’s conversion, Barnett shows that instead of derailing the teaching of Jesus, Paul was a faithful and devoted servant of his Lord.

Shortlisted

Where to Start With Islam

Samuel Green

Matthias Media

9781925424607

 

Start by listening. What do our Muslim neighbours, shopkeepers and friends believe about Jesus, the cross, salvation, the Bible and history? What common beliefs can we build upon? What fruitless discussions should we avoid? Drawing on decades of experience talking with Muslims about Jesus, Samuel Green sets out clear and effective ways of communicating the gospel. He addresses common objections about the Trinity and the reliability of the Bible, and assumptions about Muhammad, Islamic history and the Crusades. Hints on how to read the Bible with Muslims are especially valuable. This is a practical and timely book.

Shortlisted

Attending to the National Soul

Stuart Piggin & Robert Linder

Monash University Publishing

9781925835366

Shortlisted

For the Love of God

Natasha Moore, John Dickson, Simon Smart & Justine Toh

Centre for Public Christianity

9780647530351

Shortlisted

Is Jesus History?

John Dickson

The Good Book Company

9781784983659

Shortlisted

I Will Avenge

P. Howard Smith

Morning Star Publishing

9780648453789

Shortlisted

A Lot With a Little

Tim Costello

Hardie Grant Books

9781743795521

Shortlisted

Metanoia

Anna McGahan

Acorn Press

9780647519837

Shortlisted

Not Home Yet

Ian Smith

Crossway

9781433562778

Shortlisted

Science and Christianity

Chris Mulherin

Garratt Publishing

9781925073515

Shortlisted

A Short Book About Paul

Paul Barnett

Cascade Books

9781532665547

Shortlisted

Where to Start With Islam

Samuel Green

Matthias Media

9781925424607

2018 Australian Christian Book of the Year Call for Entries

The Australian Christian Book of the Year Award is given annually to an original book written by an Australian citizen. The award recognises and encourages excellence in Australian Christian writing. The award carries a prize of $3,000 for the author, and a framed certificate for the author and publisher. Entries are judged with an eye to the:
Original nature of the work.
Literary style, including suitability for the target audience.
Design, layout, cover, text and illustrations.
Contribution that the book makes in meeting a need for Christian writing in Australian.

 

Entry form and conditions

Download entry form here

2019 Australian Christian Book of the Year a radical revision of our history

 

The Fountain of Public Prosperity: Evangelical Christians in Australian History 1740–1914 by Stuart Piggin and Robert Linder is the 2019 Australian Christian Book of the Year.

 

The award was accepted by Stuart Piggin, Conjoint Associate Professor of History at Macquarie University, and David Groenewegen from Monash University Publishing at the annual awards ceremony in Melbourne on Thursday 15 August.

 

Judges described the book as “a seminal and epic contribution to Australian Christian history, thoroughly researched, deeply insightful and a pleasure to read.” They noted the book’s critical function in correcting the general ignorance of the enormous influence of evangelical Christians in the development of Australia.

 

“It is a challenge for the historian to make visible that which has long been invisible. Australia’s Christian heritage has not so much been lost as never found. Evangelicals’ prescription for a Christian civilisation promoted policies where justice, compassion and prosperity for all flourished, and made a major contribution to the development of the Australia we know today. Understanding the fountain from which our present prosperity flows is the first step in reimagining a future for Australia.”

 

“This gripping and impressively researched book puts evangelical Christianity at the centre of the Australian story, from the eighteenth century through to World War I. It begins by recounting the friendship between a First Fleet officer, Lieutenant Dawes, and some of the Indigenous Eora. It goes on to introduce female suffragists and missionary workers, Chinese evangelists and moral reformers—a wide range of people who imagined their community and its future through the eyes of faith. Professors Piggin and Linder have devoted decades to unearthing the story of ‘Christlike citizenship’ in Australia, and the result is a fluent work of national and international importance. Offering a radical revision of some of the received wisdom about our nation, it can be read from cover to cover, enjoyed in sections and revisited as a reference. A landmark account of the enormous influence of evangelicals in shaping modern Australia.”

 

The Fountain of Public Prosperity: Evangelical Christians in Australian History 1740–1914
Stuart Piggin & Robert D. Linder
Monash University Publishing
ISBN (hardback): 9781925523461
ISBN (paperback): 9781925835403

2018 Australian Christian Book of the Year a lively and revealing contribution to the debate about the role of faith in Australian life

 

In The Bible in Australia, Meredith Lake gives an arresting and comprehensive account of how preachers, suffragists, unionists, politicians, writers, painters, musicians, immigrants and Indigenous peoples have used the Bible to shape Australian history and culture. Scripture arrived tattooed on the bodies of convicts aboard the First Fleet and, in the hands of Indigenous Christians, has nourished movements for justice, for land rights, and for recognition and reconciliation. Lake shows that Australia has been neither a secular society nor a Christian nation. At every level the Bible has been held to be everything from a resented imposition to the word of God. However, even while Bible reading and biblical literacy decline, the Bible is an indelible part of our story. This is a history of national importance and an insight into Australian culture.

 

The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History
Meredith Lake
NewSouth Publishing
ISBN 9781742235714

2017 Australian Christian Book of the Year an irresistible treasury of Indigenous storytelling

 

In Our Mob, God’s Story, sixty-six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from the city and the bush tell the story of the wonderful things God has done for their people. They paint in a dazzling variety of styles and write with uncommon wisdom and generosity. These artists share their vision of Jesus in order to bring us together as brothers and sisters. This inspiring book demonstrates what the recent census recorded: that Christian faith is more evident and alive in indigenous communities than in the dominant settler society. It is time for quiet appreciation and deep listening. Beautiful, confident and irresistible.

 

Our Mob, God’s Story: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists Share Their Faith

Edited by Louise Sherman and Christobel Mattingley

Bible Society Australia

ISBN 9780647519585

Award criteria

 

The Australian Christian Book of the Year Award is given annually to an original book written by an Australian citizen. The award recognises and encourages excellence in Australian Christian writing. The ACBOY Award carries a prize of $3,000 for the author, and a framed certificate for the author and publisher. Entries are judged with an eye to the:
Original nature of the work.
Literary style, including suitability for the target audience.
Design, layout, cover, text and illustrations.
Contribution that the book makes in meeting a need for Christian writing in the Australian situation and in the Australian market.
Entries are read and judged by a panel selected by the SparkLit Council.

 

Entry form and conditions

 

Download entry form here.

 

Results

 

2020 Australian Christian Book of the Year
For the Love of God: How the Church is Better and Worse Than You Ever Imagined by Natasha Moore with John Dickson, Simon Smart & Justine Toh (Centre for Public Christianity)
Open 2020 awards results and judge’s comments.

 

2019 Australian Christian Book of the Year
The Fountain of Public Prosperity: Evangelical Christians in Australian History 1740–1914 by Stuart Piggin & Robert D. Linder (Monash University Publishing)
Open 2019 awards results and judge’s comments.

 

2018 Australian Christian Book of the Year
The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History by Meredith Lake (NewSouth Publishing)
Open 2018 awards results and judges’ comments.

 

2017 Australian Christian Book of the Year
Our Mob, God’s Story: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists Share their Faith edited by Louise Sherman & Christobel Mattingley (Bible Society Australia)
Open 2017 awards results and judges’ comments.

 

2016 Australian Christian Book of the Year
Child Arise! The Courage to Stand by Jane Dowling (David Lovell Publishing)
Open 2016 awards results and judges’ comments.

 

2015 Australian Christian Book of the Year
Captains of the Soul by Michael Gladwin (Big Sky Publishing)
Open 2015 awards results and judges’ comments.

 

2014 Australian Christian Book of the Year
Winner. The Great Bible Swindle by Greg Clarke (Bible Society Australia)
Second Prize. In God They Trust? by Roy Williams (Bible Society Australia)
Third Prize. C. S. Lewis and the Body in the Basement by Kel Richards (Strand)
Open 2014 awards results and judges’ comments.

 

2013 Australian Christian Book of the Year

Winner. Forged with Flames by Ann Fogarty (Wild dingo Press)
Second Prize. Driven by Purpose by Stephen Judd, Anne Robinson & Felicity Errington (Hammond Press)
Third Prize. A Faith to Live By by Roland Ashby (Mosaic Press)
Open 2013 awards results and judges’ comments.

 

2012 Australian Christian Book of the Year
Winner. Gumbuli of Ngukurr: Aboriginal Elder in Arnhem Land by Murray Seiffert (Acorn Press)
Second Prize. A Short History of Christianity by Geoffrey Blainey (Viking-Penguin)
Third Prize. Love, Tears and Autism: An Australian Mother’s Journey from Heartbreak to Hope by Cecily Paterson (Ark House)
Open 2012 awards results and judges’ comments.

 

2011 Australian Christian Book of the Year
Winner. Economics for Life by Ian Harper (Acorn Press)
Second Prize. Christianity Alongside Islam by John Wilson (Acorn Press)
Third Prize. Judgment Day: The Struggle for Life on Earth by Paul Collins (UNSW Press)
Open 2011 awards results and judges’ comments.

 

2010 Australian Christian Book of the Year
Winner. Losing My Religion by Tom Frame (UNSW Press)
Second Prize. The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall & Tony Payne (Matthias Media)
Third Prize. Desolate Beauty by Trudy Adams (Ark House Press)
Open 2010 awards results and judges’ comments.

 

2009 Australian Christian Book of the Year
Winner. No Ordinary View by Naomi Reed (Ark House Press)
Joint Second Prize. Catherine’s Gift: Inside the World of Dr Catherine Hamlin by John Little (Pan Macmillan)
Joint Second Prize. Leadership on the Front Foot by Zachary Veron (Youthworks)
Joint Second Prize. Preach or Perish: Reaching the Hearts and Minds of the World Today by Donald Howard (Donald and Nan Howard)
Open 2009 awards results and judges’ comments.

Australian Christian Book of the Year Award Judges

Darren Cronshaw

Darren Cronshaw pastors the Auburn Life Baptist Church in Melbourne. He has doctorates in practical theology and missiology and postgraduate qualifications in linguistics and education. He trains leaders as Professor of Missional Leadership and Head of Research with the Australian College of Ministries and serves as Chaplain with the Australian Army Reserve. Darren is married to Jenni; they have three children. He keeps fit with the Hawthorn Triathlon Club.

Barney Zwartz was a journalist with The Age for thirty-two years. He worked as letters editor, opinion editor, chief sub-editor and, for the final twelve years, religion editor. He won several awards for his coverage of two papal conclaves in Rome, the clergy sexual abuse crisis and Islam. He retired in 2013 but still writes about classical music and opera for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and has a regular faith column in the Sunday Age. Barney is currently a senior fellow with the Centre for Public Christianity and media consultant to the Anglican Primate of Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier. Barney is married to author Morag Zwartz. They have four children.

Judith Nichols has four children and fourteen grandchildren. She has a doctorate in classics and ancient history and qualifications in theology, missiology, education and linguistics. Judith and her late husband Tony ministered together in Indonesia, with Indigenous Australians at Nungalinya College and trained missionary candidates. She coordinates women’s ministry at Dalkeith Anglican Church, Perth.