All - One of the biggest contributions to my personal spirtual growth has been reading books. God has blessed me with an abundance of books, many of them very good. I would highly encourage you all to find a book or two to read over the summer to further your spiritual growth. What follows is a listing of the books I have and would recommend pertaining to various topics.
Here we go now!
Reformed Theology -
As many of you know, KCPC is part of a denomination that is confessionally Reformed. If you would like to understand a little bit more of what that means and how it applies, check out Back to Basics: Rediscovering the richness of the Reformed faith- Edited by David Hagopian. It contains 4 sections pertaining to the Reformed faith: God's sovereignty, The Covenant, The Church, and the Christian Life. It was the book that pretty much started the whole "Hey, God is pretty awesome!" thing for me. I would highly recommend it, though it is a little difficult upon first reading.
For a little lighter fare, but same concept, I would suggest Putting the Amazing Back into Grace by Michael Horton. It is very similar to the above, but less structrued and a bit easier to read. He also includes a little bit of history. It's easier to read, though not as in depth as the above. But still good.
Systematic Theology -
Who is God? Who are we? How do we get saved? Who is Christ? the Holy Spirit? How do we know God? For those who are looking for a good overview of ... eh everything, check out Vincent Cheung's Systematic Theology. It's easy to read, well written, organized, and it has given me a confidence in God's Word that I had never had before. J.I. Packer has also written an excellent book entitled Knowing God which is divided up into various chapters, each one on an aspect of Christian life and God. Excellent read (though I'll confess I never finished it the second time through).
How do we talk with unbelievers? Vincent Cheung's two books Presuppositional Confrontations and Apologetics in Conversation (in that order) are very good. John Frame's Apologetics to the Glory of God was also impressive and well written. All very readable.
How should we pray? Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell discusses "what does it mean to praying Jesus' name?" Vincent Cheung (anyone see a theme running through the books I like?) also has Prayer and Revelation. Both of these books do not give a "technique" to prayer, but rather study the nature of God and our response to that, and use that to prepare and deepen our prayer.
Vincent Cheung's commentary on Malachi, Sermon on the Mount, Parables of Jesus, Sampson and His Faith. There's also a commentary on Job by Steve Lawson. John MacArthur does an excellent study on the 12 Apostles in Twelve Ordinary Men, a study of their failures and how God used them in the midst of that.
Roman Catholics and Mormons:
James White is an excellent apologist and deals with all the difficult texts that Mormons and Roman Catholics bring up to defend their beliefs, and follows it up with a clear and Biblical presentation of the Gospel. Check out The Roman Catholic Controversy as well as Letters to a Mormon Elder, both books I used when I was discussing things with my RC roommate last year and Mormon missionaries over the summer.
James White also does an excellent treatment of the Trinity and it's importance in The Forgotten Trinity. I found it eye-opening and convicting that a doctrine that was so vital and central to the Christian faith was one that I barely understood. Bruce Ware also does an excellent treatment of the Trinity in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance. That book actually gave me my first understanding of the Trinity and helped me to see the Trinity working all over the Bible.
Mark Dever summarizes years and years of biblical preaching and insight from Scripture into the Deliberate Church, on how we get from where we are to a Gospel centered ministry. Vincent Cheung does a study on preaching via 2 Timothy 4 in Preach the Word (The book is no longer in print, the link is to the book entitled "Ministry of the Word" which includes the former book "Preach the Word"). John MacArthur takes a critical look at the "seeker sensitive" (Rick Warren/Bill Hybels) church model in light of Scripture in Ashamed of the Gospel. I found myself very convicted because even though I wouldn't have identified myself with those models, there were sinful patters in my life that had come out of those models.
John Piper and Justin Taylor are editors of a book that compiles the sermons given at a conference on Sex and the Supremacy of Christ. It examines the Biblical underpinnings of sex and marraige, responding to singleness, marraige, dealing with sexual sin, and it has two beautiful chapters at the end of the book examinging Martin Luther and the Puritan views of marraige. Yeah, it was pretty awesome and it made me want to get married.
C.J. Mahaney wrote what probably has been the book with the award of "most influence per page (apart from the Bible) upon me." His short examination on the Cross Centered Life has been instrumental to my sanctification. John Piper demonstrates and examines the most important part of the Gospel in God is the Gospel. He has also written a very excellent short devotional style book entitled The Passion of Jesus Christ: 50 reasons why Jesus came to die
John Piper has written the book that has transformed my outlook on missions. What it is, our call, and how we can go about it. Check it out: Let the Nations be Glad
Philosophy and Worldviews-
How do we know God? How do we "Know" "know " anything? How does the Christian worldview pertain to ethics, cosmology, philosophy, and so on? Vincent Cheung's Ultimate Questions is good here. It was hard, but it's worthwhile. Greg Johnson gives us a picture of The World according to God. Very readable and accessible. Vincent Cheung has a pile of short essays in Renewing the Mind, Light of our Minds, and on Good and Evil and in which he presents, defends and applies the Christian worldview and it's uniquely intellectual aspects to various aspects of life. All three are very short and readable. Nancy Pearcy and Charles Colson wrote an intimidating (thick) but readable book entitled How Now Shall We Live? It looks at Biblical answers to evolution, ethics, and those basic worldview questions that plague us all. I would highly recommend it.
Christian Life -
C.J. Mahaney teaches us about Humility:True Greatness. One of the more convicting books I've ever read, and still one that convicts me every time I think about it. John Piper gave me another convicting shot in the arm with his charge to Don't Waste Your Life. Both books are of the "shoot, I need to put this book down and repent" type.
John Murrary has a book Christian Baptism. This was probably the hardest book for me to understand of the bunch. And I need to reread it again, I'm not sure if I understand half of it. But it gives a defense for the infant baptism position.
Regarding God and miracles, Vincent Cheung has written Biblical Healing which I found pursuasive. It's an interesting read for sure, whether you agree with it or not.
We read C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters in small group. It was deeply insightful and poked into the sinful areas of my own heart. And if you're in the mood for a well written biography of Martin Luther, check out Roland Bainton's Here I Stand.
Of course, all these books are worthless if you're not reading the Book. So if you can only read one thing at all, read your Bibles. Forget these. They are manmade and can have things that are wrong. Scripture is God's Word. It is sufficient (by itself) for any and every good work.
Labels: Book Review