I’ve been enjoying a number of books lately and hope to post full reviews on the following titles. While it’s impossible for a thoughtful person to agree with every written word of another, I have appreciated both the insights and the process of critiquing and outright disagreeing with some of the ideas and proposals by these fine, Christian minds. This of course, is one of the key reasons of why we read.
What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything by Rob Bell
Can’t lie, probably Rob’s best book. To be honest, after reading a few of his Tumblr entires, I did not have high expectations for this one. My mistake. Until the full review is done, the biggest strength of his book is connecting the goodness of the Bible with people who will likely never come to church. He not only makes the Bible compelling for non-Church goers, but as a lover of Scripture, I appreciated his insights and his framing of certain points he was making.
Highly recommend for those that don’t understand why people love the Bible, highly recommend for those that have tried to read the Bible and stopped halfway through Judges. And strong recommendation for those ministry types like me in our framing of helping others to appreciate the beauty and power of this life-transforming message.
The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation by Rod Dreher
I have a love/hate relationship with a lot of things and reading this book certainly describes that feeling. Loved and hated it. I appreciate the mind of Dreher, I think he is a needed voice in the Church, I’m glad he wrote this. In my appreciation, I have a number of critiques; many that have already been expressed, and perhaps a couple unique to me.
For those passionate about the faith and culture and for Christ-followers finding their place in it, this ought to be required reading. Even if you reject his thesis of becoming a modern-day Benedictan movement retreating mainstream culture in order to salvage and restore our faith, it will also make you conversant in the faith-culture conversation. Longer review coming soon.
The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns
This was my second reading of this book and somehow, I liked it more than the first. Maybe it was Pete, maybe it was me, but I just liked it even more.
If you are troubled by the violence contained in the Old Testament, if you are bothered by the patriarchy of this ancient text, if the word “hermeneutics” doesn’t mean much to you and if you have given up on the Bible on a practical level, this book is for you.
Pre-requsite understanding before reading Enns:
Pete Enns is brilliant, with a PhD from Harvard, brought up in a Presbyterian tradition, and somehow he has been able to have an amazing sense of humor. (Apologies to everyone at Harvard and all Presbyterians, but really, how many Presbyterian comedians are there? 😉 I say this because Pete’s writing style includes a ton of sarcasm, pop-culture references and under-the-breath jokes. Some have dismissed his scholarship as a result but he’s really just a brilliant, funny guy trying to connect with regular, everyday readers.
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
If you can’t stand attending a worship service, and church is a painful place for you, yet in your heart, you know you love God, I cannot recommend Searching for Sunday enough. As one who has embraced his love for the local church and yet feels cynicism towards specific dynamics of faith and church, I connected well with Rachel’s words; not all of her words mind you. But she feels as she feels, and I feel how I feel, and you have yours too. May we listen to each other, glean from each other, and gain from one another. I gained much personally and for understanding a bit more of others through Rachel’s lens.
Preaching: Communicating Faith in the Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller
Preaching is one of the most challenging things a pastor does and the more you understand it, the increasingly difficult it becomes. And Tim Keller is pretty good at it (intentional understatement). While you and I will never be the next Tim Keller, it’s a great read on Keller’s personal approach to preaching and his advice to his colleagues and younger voices as they prepare and deliver the word.