Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Top 5 Books of 2015

I don't get to the blog very often these days. I've plans to get it going, every once-upon-a-time blogger does. Most of the content I produce ends up as sermons or assignments though. Yep still studying. 18 months to go hopefully. But surely I could turn some of that content into blog posts... We'll see.

Anyway, I noticed I posted my top 5 books of 2014 and figured that since we are halfway through 2016 that I should at least post my top 5 books for 2015. Here we go, and in no particular order...

The Pastor as Public Theologian - Kevin J Vanhoozer; This would easily be the best book I read in 2015. Vanhoozer's central idea is essentially that the primary role of the pastor is to serve as a "public theologian." A theologian who with the biblical text in one hand and TIME magazine in the other, seeks to help a congregation to know the heart of God in the trenches of life. Or in other words, "The church needs pastors who can contextualize the Word of God to help their congregations think theologically about about all aspects of their lives, such as work, end-of-life decisions, political involvement, and entertainment choices." It resonated with me so much as it is certainly the pastoral lane that I feel called to, the Eugene Peterson lane, rather than of pastor as CEO, business manager, event-coordinator, motivator or visionary leader.

The Plausibility Problem - Ed Shaw; Ed Shaw is a pastor in the UK whose sexual desire is exclusively for members of the same sex. Despite this, Shaw believes that to act on these desires is outside of God's acceptable context for sexual relations. With this in mind Shaw shares his story and addresses common missteps that the church makes in attempting to help those with same-sex desire navigate their sexuality. It really is a must read (one of a number of "must reads") for those trying to sort through a biblical understanding of sexuality, a pastoral response in regard to sexuality and practical steps in thinking through and working out one's sexuality in a 21st Century context.

Sabbath as Resistance - Walter Brueggemann; Pretty much everything Brueggemann writes is gold and this little book is no different. In it, Brueggemann points out that Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about developing rhythms and realigning one's thinking in order to become whole; as a person and as a society. He speaks to a 24/7 society of consumption, a society in which we live to achieve, accomplish, perform, and possess. More and more and more. Own more, use more, eat more, drink more, consume more. Keeping Sabbath allows us to break this restless cycle and focus on what is truly important; God, people and life.

Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament - Christopher Wright; in order to properly understand Jesus we need to know the story that Jesus claimed for himself, the story that Jesus takes as his own personal back story. That story is of course the story of Israel. In this book Wright traces the life of Christ as it is illuminated by the Old Testament. This isn't about finding Jesus under every stone that can be turned in the Old Testament, i.e. typography on top of typography. Rather it is a fantastic help in understanding the BIG Story of the Bible as Christ understood the BIG Story of the Bible.

Wondrous Depth: Preaching the Old Testament - Ellen F. Davis; Davis' concern is what she calls a "shallow reading" of scripture; a reading of what we already know instead of an attempt to dig deeper for new insights and revelations. Davis demonstrates that preaching and biblical interpretation are essentially related to one another in that it is essential for preachers to engage in thorough reading and interpretation of scripture from the pulpit and encourage their congregations to read the Bible with depth and sensitivity.

Here are my other reads from 2015...

Magician's End - Raymond E Feist
Rides a Dread Legion - Raymond E Fiest
At the Gates of Darkness - Raymond E Fiest
Wondrous Depth, Preaching the Old Testament - Ellen F. Davis
The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narritive - Steven D. Mathewson
Kingdom Conspiracy - Scot McKnight
Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament - Christopher Wright
Daily Life in Biblical Times - Oded Borowski
Models for Interpretation of Scripture - John Goldingay
Sabbath as Resistance - Walter Brueggemann
Cloud of Sparrows - Takashi Matsuoka
Apporaches to Old Testament Interpretation - John Goldingay
Do We Need the New Testament - John Goldingay
James (NICNT Commentary) - Scot McKNight
The Plausibility Problem - Ed Shaw
Into God's Presence; Prayer in the NT - Richard N. Longenecker (editor)
Welcoming by Not Affirming - Stanley Grenz
The Pastor as Public-Theologian - Kevin J Vanhoozer
The Next Christendom - Philip Jenkins
The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh - Amos Yong

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