I always have quite a few books that I am reading from. Some are read in the morning reading time, some in the evening reading time, and some are read on various occasions, depending on mood, opportunity, and circumstances.
This post will highlight some of the books that are now in the category of ongoing or occasional reads. These are to be distinguished from books that are being pursued and read daily to get to the end. Saying that, often the occasional or ongoing read will sometimes become the book that I am laboring to finish.
Reformed Systematic Theology by Joel Beeke and Paul Smalley is published by Crossway
So far, there are two volumes of a projected four volume set that are now in print. For a while, I would read a few pages or a chapter from Volume 1 on Sunday mornings. (I sometimes switch up my reading list for Sundays and dip into a new or different book.) Then I decided to press on to page 100, then 200, and so on. Last month, I determined that I would seek to finish this nearly 1200 page first volume by December. I am currently approaching page 600.
This is a very readable systematic theology. The authors quote copiously from the best and brightest minds from the Reformed tradition. Although they delve into divergent views and critique theological positions they are not in agreement with, the general thrust of this book is toward what we Reformed Christians believe and how it should impact our lives.
These volumes are coming out of Dr; Beeke’s classes on systematic theology. They can be read as textbooks, and they have questions at the end of each chapter. In my mind, these books represent the best of theological reading. They are layman friendly, but not shallow. The reader gets a good dose of great Reformed and Puritan authors through the way they buttress every idea with what others have said.
There is something that has been built into my reading habits that says that a book should be read from cover to cover. I know it is not a valid approach to all books. Of course, one usually expects to read a novel that way, but most non-fiction can be read in part. Commentaries are generally designed to be read when and as needed.
I got this hefty book from Lexham Press a year or two ago. I read a bit from it, but shelved it. No fault of the book, but the ever-increasing stacks result in many books that are merely started or left unfinished or briefly scanned over.
This fall, our church began a study series on the Book of Amos. Pastor Jared Gibson uses the following approach for the fall and spring studies at the church: A study sheet is sent out a week ahead of time with passages to read and questions to answer each day; during the Sunday school hour, groups, led by a leader, go over the questions and answers; the Sunday morning sermon focuses on exegeting the passage (also known as expository preaching); and finally, on Wednesday nights, small community groups follow up the sermon with some discussion and application. The goal is to ground the congregation in the scope and depth of the portion of God’s Word under consideration.
When we started Amos, I went out to the study and pulled Ray Beeley’s short Banner of Truth commentary and this huge commentary off the shelves. While I read Beeley from cover to cover (it is just a bit over 100 pages), I am using this commentary on Sunday mornings and on a few other occasions to help me understand the passages and prepare to teach my teen-age boys.
This commentary has it all. The explanation deals with the text and context, historical and grammatical details. Special sections follow that unlock some of the intricate matters of Hebrew, and I can readily skip these portions. Plus exhortations are given. This commentary, like everything pouring out of Lexham Press, is conservative, orthodox, and sound.
For those who wince over a woman author, I would note that she is a trained expert in the language and theological issues. She is not pastoring me nor exercising authority over me, but like Priscilla in Acts, is explaining things more carefully to me that I don’t know.
I wanted this book when it first came out. I wished upon a star several times, but the book didn’t show up. I went on to a myriad of other books, but a few months ago, this book came back on my radar after I read an article by the author on the same subject.
Progressivism, which is a more accurate term for what we usually call Liberalism, is a philosophy that affects politics and much more. The Progressives have been dominant forces in both political parties and in the field of history itself. It is not merely a belief in or hope for “progress,” but rather a philosophy that looks to man as being able to effect progress, particularly if the management of the government is in his hands, on and on to an ideal state. We throw lots of terms around in America today, particularly the word “Socialist.” Generally, name calling doesn’t advance or detract from political movements.
But there is a place for reading the history and understanding what is well rooted and what is radical in the world of political ideas. I am, by the way, just barely started into this book. Expect more later.
After Humanity: A Guide to C. S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man by Michael Ward and The Abolition of Man by Lewis are both published by Word on Fire Academic.
Quite often the often quoted lines from C. S. Lewis are from his brief, philosophical study titled The Abolition of Man. Lewis thought that the book was unsuccessful, but that assessment seems odd both in terms of its initial success and it ongoing popularity.
Michael Ward’s book provides a good background and accounting of the reactions to Lewis’s work. This book is not the traditional Lewis-the-Christian-Apologist that one reads in Mere Christianity, nor the novelist that one reads in the Narnia series or the Space Trilogy. This book takes on the relativism of its time and grapples with it from a viewpoint that brings in different traditions. I always find The Abolition o Man to be a bit difficult to connect to. So, I am finding the larger part of the book quite useful. Ward gives commentary on the sections of the book as well as explanations for Lewis’s historical, literary, and philosophical references. Word on Fire also produced a reprint of The Abolition of Man to accompany the reading.
Fine combo from a good publisher.
I started reading this interesting book sometime back in the late spring. I got off track due to my May-June illness. But for fans of Tolkien and serious scholars as well, this book shows how the man, while seeming to be confined to readings and teachings from the Middle Ages, would well read and studied in other time periods of literature.
I have a growing stack of American history studies. Many deal with politics, but a few are focused on religious topics. I am chomping at the proverbial bit to get into reading these books. I keep imagining that I am still or will soon be an American history teacher again. Three of the books are IVP publications.
This book is a collection of essays by different authors. Like any collection of scholarly essays, the interest level on the part of the reader will vary. So far, I have really enjoyed some of the essays read, while others didn’t connect as well. Reader remember: You are a participant in the process along with the author. Sometimes he or she is on target and you are not, but at other times, you are the one at fault.
The title of the essays comes from this quote: “I was filled with a pining desire to see Christ’s own words in the Bible. . . . I got along to the window where my Bible was and I opened it and . . . every leaf, line, and letter smiled in my face.” —The Spiritual Travels of Nathan Cole, 1765
An Informed Faith: The Position Papers of R. J. Rushdoony is part of a three volume set published by Chalcedon and Ross House Books.
I received the three volume set of Rushdoony’s position papers shortly after it was published a few years ago. I promptly read the first volume and wrote a review of the set with commendations about Dr. Rushdoony for the Faith for All of Life magazine.
Just recently, I got back into reading this set. I would read an essay here and there, but lately, I have been reading one or two a day. Rushdoony pounds themes repeatedly in these essays. He will take a topic, sometimes religious, sometimes historical, sometimes something that was current at the time of the writing, and will examine it from a whole Bible viewpoint. The fact that he repeats and drums in certain concepts is his strength, not a weakness.
God’s Law is a blessing to man. God’s Word is reliable, authoritative, and inerrant. Regeneration, not revolution, is the only way to change society. All areas of life and thought are under God’s Law-Word and reign. The State is a false god and Statism is a false religion.
As is typical of Rushdoony, his writings from 20 to 40 years ago sound like rebuttals to today’s news report. Thanks to Martin Selbrede and Kyle Shepherd for their work in getting this set completed.
The Politics of Guilt and Pity by R. J. Rushdoony was originally published by Craig Press and is now published by Ross House.
Craig Press is a different name that was used by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company some years ago. According to Professor Henry Wood, that name was used so that the books would be more widely read and assigned by college professors and teachers who might wince at the other name. I wish I had every single Craig Press publication ever!
I have both this really nice hardback edition of Rushdoony’s book and the more recent paperback edition. While I had read portions of it in the past, I had never given it a cover-to-cover reading. Slowly, I am doing so now.
As with his Position Papers, Rushdoony’s critique of the ever-encroaching State is a relevant theme. I think this book is not only worth laboring over–and it is not an easy read–but it is worth applying to our times. Political pronouncements that are directed to either make us feel guilt (many related to the current epidemic) or pity (when it is not deserved and is certainly not a proper sphere of government action) abound.
When I finish An Informed Faith soon, I am going to give greater attention to this book. In spite of my “pick up and read on occasion” method, it should read with much more focus and attention.
G. W. F. Hegel by Shao Kai Tseng is part of the Great Thinkers series published by P&R, formerly known as Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing.
When is the best time to start reading a book that seeks to explain and simplify the obtuse German philosopher Georg Hegel? For me, it was at about 3 AM one morning when I got up and was unable to sleep. I thought I would glance at the introduction to this book and soon fall asleep. I was entranced by the first pages–maybe ten or so–and was hooked on the book until I made myself try once again to sleep. (Reader take note: This book didn’t put me to sleep.)
This book is part of a useful series of relatively brief Christian approaches to key modern thinkers. Many of these thinkers are “the bad guys,” but some are men whose thought has influenced philosophy and thought for both the Christian and non-Christian world. These books are designed to push non-philosophical swimmers like me into the deep end of the pool without letting us sink. Meaning: These are not short, snappy books with a few bullet points. These are challenging introductions to the names and thought of people who have influenced philosophy, theology, political thought, literature, and science over the past several centuries.
Yes, I have thrashed around in the water since starting this book. But I have also managed to stay afloat and find myself more and more engrossed in learning about the man who influenced both Marx and Kierkegaard.
Over the past few months, I have begun the morning readings with the Psalms as found in this new, beautiful edition of the Book of Common Prayer. I am not an Anglican and am still quite unfamiliar with all of the uses and contents of the BOCP. I have several versions of it and have used portions in church services, funerals, weddings, and private devotions.
The Psalms are set up as Morning and Evening Prayers. Following the guidelines, one would read through the entirety of the Book of Psalms in a month. The idea, however, is not just reading the Psalms, but praying the Psalms. I was usually reading one Psalm a day. I would like to follow the pattern and read them all again in 30 or so days.
The translation used in this 1622, while resembling the King James Version, is a bit different and is enjoyable.
Plus, something needs to be said for a book that is beautifully bound and printed. This physical book is a decorative piece of art for the small table beside my reading chair. That this beautiful ink, paper, and cloth also contains so much rich theology and Scripture only enhances its value.