2023 Australian Christian Book of the Year exposes the assumptions that shape Western society.
Biblical Critical Theory: How the Bible’s Unfolding Story Makes Sense of Modern Life and Culture
A philosopher uses the Bible to analyse and interpret contemporary Western culture. The task is ambitious and daunting but Watkin’s confidence, curiosity and joy are contagious. No matter where you happen to open the book, the author’s easy style, wide-ranging scholarship and generosity grab your attention and you are off, exploring the unfolding biblical narrative and how it cuts through assumptions and ideologies to speak to our times. An enlightening and absorbing read for anyone wanting to deepen their appreciation of how the Bible addresses our world here and now. To reframe debates and culture wars, you will return regularly to this resource.
2023 SparkLit Awards Night
The 2023 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 on Thursday 31 August. Join us to celebrate the courage and endeavour of our Christian writers!
Register now to receive the livestream link (free of charge) or buy tickets to the in-person event at St Alfred’s Anglican Church, Blackburn North.
Watch the 2023 SparkLit Awards Night livestream here!
2023 Australian Christian Book of the Year Shortlist
The following ten titles have been shortlisted for the 2023 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award.
Bruce Robinson doesn’t waste time wondering why we suffer, but swiftly moves to suggest ways and means of coping, enduring and even growing through experiences of suffering. Central to this warm and wise book are the author’s own faith and trials, and long professional experience in caring for others in the midst of suffering and in death. Empathetic and practical, Robinson provides sensitive and sensible advice both to those who are suffering and to those who support them. What to say? What not to say? A heartening and empowering source of comfort and hope.
A unique and moving meditation on the eternal significance of pregnancy, birth, and life with a newborn child. Written by a mother, midwife and theologian, this book is a practical guide through the journey of childbirth, including the discomforts, difficulties and occasional heartbreaks. Each chapter is enriched by a personal reflection and prayer by a mother in response to her own experience. This is a rare invitation to understand how profoundly pregnancy and childbirth reveal God’s desire to bring forth life. A book for everyone, but perfect for expecting mothers and fathers.
What would happen if, like Zacchaeus, we allowed Jesus to change our hearts and turn us upside down? In Disrupting Mercy the Clarkes confront our anaemic understanding of God’s mercy and urge us to allow God’s extreme kindness and extravagant generosity to disrupt and transform our life and our world. When it comes to kindness, don’t be reasonable; be reckless! The authors are gentle and big-hearted, but their message is radical and urgent. In a world where relationships are often transactional, suspicious, judgmental and unforgiving, mercy is badly needed.
Without discarding the importance of self-reflection, Rosner suggests that to truly find ourselves we need to look beyond ourselves to our relationships, our community, our history and, most fundamentally, God’s Word. Our story is most at home in the story of Jesus. In a world preoccupied with personal autonomy and authenticity, this idea is profoundly countercultural and timely. Rosner is clear, candid and engaging. His book provides a thoughtful alternative to prevalent individualistic and egocentric pathways to self-knowledge, and it is a strong and accessible contribution to the identity quest.
Imagination in an Age of Crisis
Jason Goroncy and Rod Pattenden
This carefully curated treasury of essays and creative works showcases the strength and diversity of the Christian imagination in Australia. Thirty-three academics and artists contribute criticism, poems, images and reflections that explore the ways imagination makes possible the articulation of hope. Emerging from the COVID19 pandemic, the collection’s context and substance show that imagination is not a luxury; it is a prerequisite to survival, a necessary spiritual discipline and a practice essential to faith.
In Practicing Peace, Michael Wood explores the centrality of peacemaking to Christian thinking, feeling and living. First, he anchors our pursuit of peace in a theology that declares that we are forgiven by God in Christ and free to forgive others. He then commends contemplation as a way of moving from the head to the heart. Finally, he suggests actions which make goodwill and concord visible in everyday life. Wood’s approach is rigorous, christocentric and ecumenical. An important book for anyone involved in conflict resolution, mediation and reconciliation.
What to do about children and screens? Daniel Sih has written a positive and practical response to this pressing question. He offers a range of strategies to help families manage technology and social media to support rather than undermine human flourishing. Sih is friendly and well informed, and his writing is clear, concise and full of anecdotes. Rather than saying no to screens, let’s say yes to life!
While secularism is routinely deplored by many Christians, Michael Bird makes a strong case for the secular state as the best way to ensure freedom of faith (and no faith) and to provide the optimal climate in which the church might thrive. Bird writes with panache and energy. Amidst the heated debate about religious plurality, he proposes a more Christ-like strategy to engage with culture. For anyone interested in the role of the church in public life—and that should include all Christians—this is essential reading.
Circumstance, then curiosity, drove Andrew Hamilton to consider alternative models of church leadership. What will sustainable ministry look like in an increasingly post-Christian society? How can we prevent professional Christian ministry from becoming introverted and self-serving rather than missional? He suggests that engaging in work apart from church leadership is not only an effective way of ministering to the world beyond the walls of the church but also an effective way of enriching ministry within. This book is a challenge for those in ministry, and for all Christians, to reconsider their role in building up the body of Christ and furthering God’s mission in the world.
Australian Christian Book of the Year Award Judges
Greg Clarke has a doctorate in modern literature and long experience in publishing, academia and Christian mission. He was Group CEO of Bible Society Australia from 2010 to 2019 and is the author of the 2014 Australian Christian Book of the Year, The Great Bible Swindle. Greg and his family are members of St Mark’s Anglican Church in Darling Point, Sydney.
Dr Meredith Lake is a writer and broadcaster interested in how Australians understand the big questions of faith and meaning. She trained as an historian and currently hosts Soul Search on ABC Radio National, a weekly show about the experience of religion and spirituality. Her most recent book is the multi-award winning The Bible in Australia: A cultural history.
Catherine Place started out as a secondary school teacher. Theological study added to the excitement of raising a family with her husband Dan. She has written for a Catholic liturgical magazine, produced resources for teachers of Religious Education and Texts and Traditions in secondary schools and was a tutor at Corpus Christi Seminary and the Catholic Theological College in Melbourne.
Is your book a candidate for the 2024 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award?
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. Entries close 31 March 2024. Download conditions and entry form here.
2022 Australian Christian Book of the Year promises healing and hope for a hurting planet
The Forest Underground: Hope for a Planet in Crisis
Appalled and infuriated by the abuse and degradation of the environment, a boy offers himself to God. God answers this child’s prayer and the ensuing adventure across continents and decades is breathtaking. The simple and sustainable system of land management that Tony Rinaudo pioneered in Niger is transforming the lives of subsistence farmers around the world and offers a model for solving our environmental crisis. Reviving dormant tree stumps is as powerful a metaphor as it is a method of reforestation. Tony is determined and faithful, and writes without guile or hubris. Irresistible, exemplary and, above all, hopeful.
2021 Australian Christian Book of the Year equips Christians to flourish in a post-Christian culture
Being the Bad Guys: How to Live for Jesus in a World that Says You Shouldn’t
No longer just quaint or irrelevant, Christians in Western society are once again regarded as “haters of humankind”. After exploring the ways a Christian worldview is unacceptable in contemporary Australia and the complex situations in which this places orthodox believers, Stephen McAlpine gets down to business. There is neither reason nor time for indulging in despair or victimhood. Being the Bad Guys calls on Christians to admit our failures and embrace life as a creative minority. As a community on the margins, we can welcome the actual victims of contemporary culture as they look for grace and solace from its bruising brutality. McAlpine is fearless, feisty and fluent. This book is an overdue reset for Christians who have not yet realised that they are more like Daniel in Babylon than Solomon in the land of milk and honey.
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
Natasha Moore with John Dickson, Simon Smart & Justine Toh
For the Love of God is a bold yet balanced appraisal of the impact of Christianity, examining 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.
2019 Australian Christian Book of the Year a radical revision of our history
The Fountain of Public Prosperity
Stuart Piggin & Robert D. Linder
ISBN (hardback): 9781925523461
ISBN (paperback): 9781925835403
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. It is a challenge for the historian to make visible that which has long been invisible. The contribution Evangelicals have made to Australia has not so much been lost as never found. Understanding the fountain from which our present prosperity flows is the first step in reimagining a future for Australia. Professors Piggin and Linder have devoted decades to unearthing the story of ‘Christlike citizenship’ in Australia. The result is a gripping, deeply insightful and impressively researched contribution to Australian Christian history covering the eighteenth century through to World War I. The Fountain of Public Prosperity is a seminal work of national and international importance.
2018 Australian Christian Book of the Year a lively and revealing contribution to the debate about the role of faith in Australian life
The Bible in Australia
In The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History, 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.
Is your book a candidate for the 2022 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award?
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. Entries close 31 March 2022. Download conditions and entry form here.
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.
The Australian Christian Book of the Year Award has been conferred annually since 1981.
2022 Australian Christian Book of the Year The Forest Underground: Hope for a Planet in Crisis by Tony Rinaudo (ISCAST)
Open 2022 awards results and judges’ comments.
2021 Australian Christian Book of the Year Being the Bad Guys: How to Live for Jesus in a World that Says You Shouldn’t by Stephen McAlpine (The Good Book Company)
Open 2021 awards results and judges’ comments.
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 judges’ 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 judges’ 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)
Open 2014 awards results and judges’ comments.
2013 Australian Christian Book of the Year Forged with Flames by Ann Fogarty (Wild Dingo Press)
Open 2013 awards results and judges’ comments.
2012 Australian Christian Book of the Year Gumbuli of Ngukurr: Aboriginal Elder in Arnhem Land by Murray Seiffert (Acorn Press)
Open 2012 awards results and judges’ comments.
2011 Australian Christian Book of the Year Economics for Life by Ian Harper (Acorn Press)
Open 2011 awards results and judges’ comments.
2010 Australian Christian Book of the Year Losing My Religion by Tom Frame (UNSW Press)
Open 2010 awards results and judges’ comments.
2009 Australian Christian Book of the Year No Ordinary View by Naomi Reed (Ark House Press)
Open 2009 awards results and judges’ comments.