Reading…

I’ve been on a reading kick lately (more than usual), so I have many books about which to blog, but not enough time.  So I’ll note a few now, and come back to them some other day.  I also hope to finish my notes on David VanDrunen’s Natural Law and Two Kingdoms book very soon.

Though I’ve heard of J.B. Phillips’ Your God is Too Small, on Saturday I had the privilege to read it for the first time.  Though I have a few quibbles with some of his terminology, overall the book was great.  It reads a tad like C.S. Lewis and is a good book for those of us interested in defending the faith (while strengthening our own!).  I was reminded once again that distortions of who God is did not originate in the last 10 years with Dawkins or Oprah or Osteen.

Last week Friday I read Jason Stellman’s new book, Dual Citizens.  I see this one sort of like a greatest hits album.  Stellman nicely weaves together some of the insights of guys like Mike Horton, Darryl Hart, Meredith Kline, William Willimon, and others to argue for an “ordinary” sort of Christianity – ordinary in the way of word, sacrament, and pilgrim living in the already/not yet.  This one is good for those just getting into confessional Reformation theology – it harmonizes well with Modern Reformation and the White Horse Inn, for example.

Over the past few weeks I also enjoyed Marilynne Robinson’s Home.  It is a sort of companion to her Gilead.  Each of these cover the same time period (roughly the 60s or so in a small Iowa town) and each focuses on a different pastor from this town.  I do admit that I liked Gilead much more than Home, but I recommend these books for anyone who likes good writing – and Pastors or church leaders will especially identify with them.

I’m just finishing up Os Guinness’ outstanding work, God in the Dark.  This is a brilliant book that wrestles with doubt, faith, certainty, and knowledge.  It is a perfect companion to some of Newbigin’s works, along with my other favorite, Bavinck’s Certainty of Faith.  I’ll for sure post on this one later, as it has seriously helped me deal with some of my own doubts.  I love this book.

I am nearly finished with Stanley Hauerwas’ A Cross Shattered Church.  Reading Hauerwas (for me) is like reading Barth: sometimes it makes you want to dance and sing and laugh, and other times it makes you want to stomp and cuss and cry.  Actually, if you read Hauerwas, you won’t have to cuss because he does so for you (yes, there are a few cuss words in this book).  But he is always worth reading (even though I am not a pacifist-anabapstist, nor do I sympathize with Roman Catholic theology), because of statements like these: “The great challenge of not how we can fit Jesus into the story of the Enlightenment, but how the story of the Enlightenment is to be judged by Jesus” (p. 39).  It is a relatively easy and short read, but I only recommend it to those who are solidly standing in a robustly confessional faith.

One more: I’ve enjoyed reading through the OPC’s Book of Church Order.   Solid presbyterian church government is a beautiful thing, a thing from which other churches can certainly benefit.  Here is a statement of presbyterian beauty: “All governing assemblies have the same kinds of rights and powers,” yet at the same time “all church power is only ministerial and declarative, for the Holy Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice.  No church judicatory may presume to bind the conscience by making laws on the basis of its own authority; all its decisions should be founded upon the Word of God” (chs XII.1 and III.3).  And kudos to the OPC for a handsome little booklet that is inexpensive at the same time! [Side note: I’m wondering why they still use the KJV in certain places of the BCO and the suggested forms.]

On my “to read” shelf are these three, among others: 1) Ed Welch’s Depression, a Stubborn Darkness, 2) K. Scott Oliphint and Rod Mays’ Things That Cannot Be Shaken and 3) William Edgar’s Lifting the Veil: The Face of Truth.  Stay tuned!

shane lems

sunnyside wa

2 thoughts on “Reading…”

  1. The continued use of the KJV in the BCO has come up frequently as Assemblies. I wager it will get worked out in time. Remember, being Presby is about being slow.

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  2. I’m reading Dual Citizens right now too. Your description of it is a really good one. It feels like it’s almost a companion piece to The White Horse Inn. I’m still working on it, but my favorite part so far was the chapter entitled “Suburbylon”.

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