Summer–When morning begins and ends when I want it to, but not necessarily where I want it to
As the end of July is in sight, the morning readings continue with full force, sort of. Granted that some days I am sleepy, some mentally distracted, some restless, but every now and then fully able to concentrate and read. The stack of “must read and review” books never quite gets whittled down enough, but I am trying.
For about two weeks now, I have been reading from Mark Jones’ Knowing Christ, published by Banner of Truth. I could easily read two or three of the short chapters a day, but I refuse. One is enough. This book, whose title echoes J. I. Packer’s classic Knowing God, is a rich, thought producing and soul enriching read. There is usually a good half to full cup of theological thought, with a few scoops of quotes from Reformers, Puritans, and great theological thinkers, with all of it grounded in the Bible verse or verses that begin the chapters. Get this book.
Upon the recommendation of Cody Howard, pastor of Church Under the Bridge here in Texarkana, I bought The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D. A. Carson. This is a short book (less than a hundred pages) that grew out of four lectures. The two parts of the title might not seem to go together. We all know that there are some pretty difficult doctrines in the Bible, but we usually don’t think of the love of God in that category. Far from obfuscating a simple truth, Carson unfolds some of the depth of what the Bible teaches in contrast to some of the weaker, trite, sentimental, or false versions of God’s love that comes from non-Christian thinking and then seeps into the saved community. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God is published by Crossway.
Last year, I read and loved Bradley Birzer’s book Russell Kirk: American Conservative. Now the same publisher, the University of Kentucky Press, has issued Imaginative Conservative: The Letters of Russell Kirk, edited by James E. Person, Jr. Kirk was a brilliant thinker, a leader in the conservative movement of the 1960’s–1990’s, and a prolific writer of political and literary books and ghost stories. Living in the age when people wrote letters, he corresponded with some really great and famous people. But even his letters to lesser known or unknown people are quite enjoyable.
The Regensburg Lecture by James V. Schall is published by St. Augustine Press. This book is a commentary on a speech that Pope Benedict XVI gave at a university in his native Bavaria. Remember that Benedict was Joseph Ratzinger, who was a top rate scholar on church history and theology. His speech dealt with issues related to Europe and the West’s confrontation and interaction with Islam. The topic should be a bit old hat, since it pertains to so much European and Middle Eastern history. But Benedict sparked an outrage from the followers of “the religion of peace.” Too many in the West were too squeamish to react properly. Thankfully, James V. Schall, one of the best writers I know, didn’t sit on the sidelines.
Concerning God of Our Fathers: Classical Theism and the Contemporary Church, edited by Bradford Littlejohn, I will say this: It is hard to roll uphill. Meaning, if you fall going up a hill, it is hard to reach the top. Meaning, I finished reading this book earlier in the week, but have felt it necessary to go back to the beginning to better understand the individual essays in this work and the book as a whole. Meaning, this theological book entails heavy lifting and even strong coffee doesn’t crack the code.
Today, after finishing the introduction, I began “Melanchthon’s Unintended Reformation? The Case of the Missing Doctrine of God” by E. J. Hutchinson. This chapter would make a small book by itself. It is based on the thought that Reformers did not redefine or recast the doctrine of God in the way they did other doctrines. Some later and less reliable theologians did attempt to do so. Melanchthon’s Loci communes (Commonplaces) did not tackle this issue, and this essay explores why he omitted this in his discussions. I am going to try to stay on my feet on this journey this time.