Saturday, September 01, 2007

Summer Reading

September has arrived and the summer is drawing to a close (meteorologically it never arrived of course). As usual I have achieved a lot less than I hoped I would, though my 'to-do' list was particularly ambitious this year. I have read a few books though, which I list and describe briefly here for your delectation.

Against Christianity (sample online here): Peter Leithart thinks the Church is a new city. That means he's against 'Christianity' (a private/unsuccessful gospel and Church) and for 'Christendom' (a public/successful gospel and Church). And who wouldn't agree? Leithart also writes with considerable wit and style, which makes his book enjoyable as well as provocative.

Tested by Fire: Suffering in the lives of Bunyan, Cowper and Brainerd. John Piper has served us well with his brief (but not shallow) reflections on various Christian figures from history.

He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillenial Eschatology. Kenneth Gentry Jr.'s comprehensive and mostly persuasive book on the ultimate in gospel optimism. Seems to be the book that other-millenialists must contend with, both exegetically & theologically.

All Families are Psychotic. Hardly Douglas Coupland's finest moment. Some interesting commentary on consequences of actions, and of course on families and relationships. Less-than-believable ending doesn't really help things. Okay as beach reading.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Satisfactory and enjoyable conclusion to the series that has been disproportionately lauded (not J.K. rowling's fault I stress). Won't change your life, but then it isn't meant to.

Pierced for our Transgressions: Necessary, scholarly, readable. More (but brief) comments here.

By Faith, Not By Sight. Richard Gaffin helps us understand justification and sanctification, showing how the forensic and the renovative aspects of the salvation of individuals flow from the same basic reality - union with Christ.

The Radical Reformission. The unique Mark Driscoll on modern mission that doesn't sell out. All that needs to happen now is for someone to write the same kind of book for the UK but in a style that won't immediately offend and repel the conservative evangelical constituency here.

I've also started reading 'City of God' by St Augustine. Man, was that guy thorough (long-winded). I'm enjoying the ride but it might be some time before I blog on that one.


Daniel Newman said...

What's so ghastly about the style of Mark Driscoll's book?

Pete said...

Not so much ghastly as pretty particular to the cultural context he ministers in. Depends what 'circles'/'rhetorical worlds' one moves in, so to speak, but I think there are some bits of style and a bit of content that could put off conservative evangelicals here.

For e.g., Driscoll uses sarcasm a lot and that doesn't always come across well to polite brits to whom he might just appear blunt-bordering on rude. The 'lad from yorkshire' in me revels in much of this as a bit of a breath of fresh air, but then the diplomat in me feels I'd like to say some of the same things in a slightly different way.

And he uses words like 'horny.'

And he trashes Christian music cds and triumphs buying 'secular' music.

And he doesn't seem to have a massive problem with ear (and other body-part) piercings.

Plus, just the fact that he uses language like 'contextualisation' and 'missional' will make some people lump him in with the theoligically-liberal emerging church types.

And the fact that he's a charismatic calvinist will put some people off too.

The book's worth reading though, because, even if you aren't convinced by everything he says, or how he says it, there's much to learn.

Samuel Lago said...

"All that needs to happen now is for someone to write the same kind of book for the UK but in a style that won't immediately offend and repel the conservative evangelical constituency here."

Or maybe people need to actually try and put into practice this "unique Mark Driscoll on modern mission that doesn't sell out"? Just a crazy ol' suggestion. ;)

Saludos de Chile.

Pete said...

Thanks Samuel
Surely putting Driscoll into practice means contextualising for the UK context, which, at the level of promoting 'his' ideas within the evangelical community would mean exactly what I say - communicating in such a way as to be understood.

My comments which you quote in your post were not intended as a criticism of Driscoll so much as a reflection on the cultural-communication context in UK evangelical circles.

Samuel Lago said...

Yeah I know, and I apologise for any confusion. What I was trying to get at is that maybe we should sometimes stop recommending books (which I do all the time) and actually put into practice some of the ideas inspired by what we read. Maybe then, others will follow suite.

Although, I'm being the biggest hypocrite in the world, and need to take heed of my own advice...

God Bless, desde Chile.

Pete said...

Thanks for the clarification Samuel.

And of course, there is a sense in which the reading of many books can prove to be a vanity of vanities.

However...I wouldn't be too hard on yourself for recommending books - surely that's one way that we put into practice the good stuff we read about - tell others so they can get inspired too!