One of my favorite things about being a pastor is that I get to study a lot. I have always been a terrible student–reading for a deadline is something I have never been able to do. On the other hand, getting to read at my own pace and reading several books at a time is my jam. I mostly read about theology and biblical context (no surprise there, I’m sure) with some leadership and worldview stuff thrown in here and there.
This week I thought I’d let you know what books I’ve got going right now and what’s on deck. First off, I’m reading a book by N.T. Wright who I believe to be, perhaps, the greatest theologian of our time. He can be pretty heady and goes way deep, but has influenced me on the deepest levels of my own theological perspectives. This book is called, “After You Believe”. He deals largely with what it looks like for Christians to live in the here and now. If you were at our Easter service, I talked a bit about the idea that our goal as Christians is not to “get to heaven” but to live out the joining of heaven and earth in this life as we look forward to when Jesus will unite them once and for all in a new creation. This book is about how we live in the “now, but not yet”.
Another book I’m reading is, “The Skeletons in God’s Closet” by Joshua Ryan Butler. This book explores some of the hard concepts we find in the Bible and the questions they raise. Some of the questions Butler asks are, How can a loving God send people to hell? Isn’t it arrogant to believe Jesus is the only way to God? What is up with holy war in the Old Testament? This type of book is important because it forces us to look into things we, as Christians, are often tempted to gloss over or ignore altogether. It’s not really light reading, but full of some great insights.
I’m also reading Preston Sprinkle’s book, “People To Be Loved–Why homosexuality is not just an issue”. I’ve done a lot of reading in this area over the last couple years and this is looking like One of the better books from a “non-affirming” perspective. A non-affirming stance on sexuality focuses on loving people regardless of their sexual orientation while putting restrictions on their capacity of service and leadership in church community. I think it is crucial that we read and dialogue on these topics from all angles and this book is a compassionate and intelligent articulation of this particular perspective.
There you go! If any of these books or authors seem interesting to you let me know–I’d be happy to recommend my other favorites!
So, what’s next? The next book I’m going to read (again) is “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis. This is an allegorical story that explores some profound ideas about heaven and hell and some of the ways we (Christian culture) have co opted and skewed what the scriptures actually teach about them.
Wanna read it with me? I found a study guide for the book and think it would be a great candidate for reading as a group to discuss Lewis’ ideas. I’d love to squeeze it in between now and summer if possible. If you’re interested, let me know by commenting below or sending me an email!