Reading Digest #8 (Feb 28, 2010)

Book writing is still at full-throttle pace for me, and it’s been that way for all of January and February. I have completed the rough drafts of the thickest theological chapters (1-6) and have now shifted my attention to writing the much more practical—and much less intense—chapters (7-14). And since the intensity of writing has dropped off a tad I’ve decided to intensify the reading. For this season I have decided to focus on theology.

Here’s my current list:

• Brooke Foss Westcott, The Victory of the Cross (Macmillan, 1888). I found this old gem on the bottom shelf in a dusty used book warehouse in DC. It’s a collection of sermons from a noted bible scholar and the Bishop of Durham, on the topic of the cross. I completed it the other day. The book fed my soul. I’ve quoted from it on the blog in the recent past and plan to post a couple other excerpts soon enough. You can read it online for free here.

• Kevin J. Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology (WJK, 2005). The book was written to encourage the church see the relevance of theology. Already I like what I read: “he who is tired of doctrine is tired of life, for doctrine is the stuff of life” (xiii). Nice. Also, he writes that theology is essential because it helps us (1) cope with life, (2) celebrate the activity of God, (3) communicate the works of God inside and outside the church, and to (4) criticize what is false. Vanhoozer’s goal in this book is to present theology as a drama, which seems fitting enough at first glance. Whether or not I’ll end up biting on the theo-drama approach I cannot say this early. But any book that emphasizes the seriousness of theology in the Christian life is worth reading. Alister McGrath says this book is “essential reading for all concerned with the nature and future of doctrine.” That’s me!

• Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope (Fortress, 1993). Of all the branches of theology I think eschatology is the most underdeveloped. Not that there aren’t a lot of books that bicker about things like timelines, because those are plentiful. I mean books that seriously explain how eschatology informs the Christian life, how it protects us from worldly thinking, and how our future hope—not merely our past memory—shapes our theology and our priorities as Christians. I’ve only begun reading but I’ve eaten at café Tübingen before and they serve only lobster, a dish with hardly enough exegetical meat feed a man or to justify the time, the effort, or the price. Having read Moltmann in the past I cannot endorse the book or paste quotes from it on this here blog.

• John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. I continue to plug away at the Institutes. Is there a better work of theology? Nope, not even my man Herman comes close to Calvin. My goal is to reread The Institutes cover-to-cover in 16 months. Right now I’m focused on 2.2.1–2.13.1 (or 1.255-475) where Calvin focuses in on free will, depravity, the law, and the mediator. Calvin is so relevant to our modern questions. Like what is the purpose behind the Lord sending earthquakes? Calvin has articulated the clearest and most careful answer to this question that I’ve read (see 1.17.1). Rich and relevant.

• Martin Luther, Off The Record With Martin Luther (Hansa-Hewlett, 2009). For fun I’ve been reading this new translation of Luther’s Table Talk. I’m tempted to quote my favorite excerpts but that would get me into trouble. This is a wonderful collection of colorful quotes from Luther’s free-tongued dinner conversations over meat, potatoes, and a mug.

So that’s what I am reading at the moment. How about yourself? I love hearing from you, and especially if what you are reading is less nerdy.

13 thoughts on “Reading Digest #8 (Feb 28, 2010)

  1. Love these posts, Tony! Thanks for the wishlist fodder.

    I’m actually getting ready to teach one of the Bethlehem Institute classes at our church… So, I’m reading _Desiring God_, _Future Grace_, and _God Is The Gospel_ which are all books the students will interact with this term. It’s a bit of Piper overload, but that’s not altogether bad.

    Once I’m out from my full read of those, I’ll be onto Sibbes and something related to biblical counseling.

  2. Hey Tony…I always love to see what you are reading. Here is my current list:

    1. Between Two Worlds (John Stott)
    2. Famine in the Land (Steven Lawson)
    3. Christ Centered Preaching (Bryan Chappell)
    4. Fresh Encounter (Henry Blackaby and Claude King)
    5. Real Evangelism (Bailey Smith)
    6. Crazy Love (Francis Chan)

  3. “I continue to plug away at the Institutes. Is there a better work of theology?”

    Have you read any of Wilhelmus a Brakel’s “A Reasonable Christian Service”? It is a really good work of theology. I just picked up a used copy of volume 1 and what I’ve read so far has been outstanding.

    Blessings,
    Paul

  4. Brakel is a gem, but he would not break into my top 10 favorite systematics list. He is good on a number of topics though and I am thankful this is in print (in English!). Thanks Paul! Tony

  5. Tony,Always enjoy checking out your blog.Here is my current list;
    A Breviary of Sin – Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
    True Sexual Morality – Daniel R. Heimbach
    God the Peacemaker – Graham A. Cole
    Learning Evangelism From Jesus – Jerram Barrs

    Blessings to you and your family, Mark

  6. You are an encouragement to me, bro!

    I am reading:
    1. Colossian – Davenant
    2. The Gospel Defended – Owen, V. 12
    3. Middlemarch – George Eliot
    4. Sermons on Col. 1 – Manton, V. 1

    Also writing a book on Colossian 1. Nothing better than saturating oneself in the gospel. I am encouraged that you are writing on theology as well.

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