I’ve been memed…
Matt’s requirements are:
i. To list a helpful book I’ve read from this category
ii. Describe why I found it helpful
iii. Tag five more friends to spread the meme love
There are two books that have changed my life dramatically. The first of these is John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. Everyone knows it’s a classic, and almost every man, woman and child has read it. But, this book for me marked a turning point in my life. I had read it on and off for a period of 2-3 years as someone quite ready to give up the faith. Then one day I read it and could not put it down, I realised with a new clarity what Jesus had done. The words that changed me are still underlined in my book—I remember reading them for the first time so clearly:
“This is how the Apostles saw it. Herod and Pilate, Gentiles and Jews, they said, had together ‘conspired against Jesus (Acts 4.27). More important still, we ourselves are also guilty. If we were in their place, we would have done what they did. Indeed, we have done it. For whenever we turn away from Christ, we ‘are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace’ (Heb 6.6). We too sacrifice Jesus to our greed like Judas, to our envy like the priests, to our ambition like Pilate. ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ the old Negro spiritual asks. And we must answer, ‘Yes, we were there.’ Not as spectators only but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining, and handing him over to be crucified. We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands. Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).
(The Cross of Christ p.59)
I was brought to tears, stopped reading and prayed and my life was never the same again.
2. Biblical Theology
As a young punk trying to work out how to make sense of the OT I met with an old minister to read According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy. Sure, Goldsworthy’s stuff is bread and butter in most of our churches, and books like climax of the covenant take Biblical Theology to the next level, but I’m so thankful to God for the bedrock laid by Goldsworthy. It’s a blessing to have his efforts so much a part of the theological landscape of the church circles I move in.
I’m currently in a reading group that has just about finished The Trinitarian Faith by T. F. Torrance. I’ve found it profoundly helpful in grasping the beauty of the Nicene-Constantinople statements about God. It has opened my eyes to the richness of the creed, it has helped me grasp God’s being more clearly and it has helped me understand the Church’s involvement with the Triune God. Great book!
Yet, I’m hoping to soon finish The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God by R. P. C. Hanson. It promises to trump the Trinitarian Faith, but I feel like I cant claim its significance until I’ve finished it…bummer
Like Matt and Byron, there was no way this book was never going to make this list. This is the second book that has changed my life, Jesus and the Victory of God by N. T. Wright. Simply put it is a masterpiece! No book has helped my reading of Scripture more. No book have I referred back to more. No book have I recommended more. It is sweet sweet honey to my lips… It helped me understand the gospel stories and then in turn made me love and appreciate Jesus more! Read it! Read it! Read it!
5. Old Testament
Again, like Matt, I cant go past Dumbrell’s The Faith of Israel. I have flicked back to it again and again to help understand the entire OT.
6. New Testament
Resurrection of the Son of God, N.T. Wright. A massive, sweeping account of the New Testament understanding of the Resurrection explained within its Second Temple setting. Widely received and an instant classic on the topic. While I didn’t find it his most grabbing book, it did help me get the uniqueness of the Resurrection and how it truly is an amazing hope for a broken world.
Over summer I was greatly encouraged by reading No Rusty Swords, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s a funny book, part biography of Bonhoeffer, part a collection of his letters and lectures. Bonhoeffer is someone I deeply admire. The man’s life was such a struggle in understanding ethics so that any study of him is a helpful study in ethics.
8. Church History
The Christological Controversy by Richard Norris. One of the first books I read at college last year. It truly helped me grow in my thankfulness for the heroes of the early church. It caused me to reflect on the depth of their task in coming to grips with the magnitude of the incarnation. A real highlight was reading Mileto of Sardis and his homily on the Passover
Not a massive biography reader…But I have dipped in and out of John Stott’s biographies by Timothy Dudley Smith. My father put me onto Stott years ago and he has had a real influence on the both of us. I hope to grow old like him, he is a beautiful man…
Promoting the Gospel, John Dickson. Someone told me not to read this because it was heretical…so that made me want to read it more! Totally glad I did, I think John is bang on and does a nice task of fitting evangelism into how we think about God
I need to read more on prayer. I like Matt’s idea of An Australian Prayer Book, because when I think about it, it really has taught me a lot about prayer. It has been particularly helpful in causing me to confess my sin to God. Other than this A Call to Spiritual Reformation is something else I’ve found helpful… but like Chris kept putting it away…maybe it was a tad boring!
With all this meming my dreams to put up the posts I promised yesterday will be a little delayed…stay tuned