Every now and then I like to share with you the books that I have read. I do this not to say, “Hey look at how much I read,” but, rather, to encourage you with some of the resources that have been an encouragement to me and to my ministry. I hope that these resources will be a blessing to your faith.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy, by Eric Metaxes. ”In Hitler’s Germany, a Lutheran pastor chooses resistance and pays with his life… Eric Metaxas tells Bonhoeffer’s story with passion and theological sophistication, often challenging revisionist accounts that make Bonhoeffer out to be a ‘humanist’ or ethicist for whom religious doctrine was easily disposable… Metaxas reminds us that there are forms of religion — respectable, domesticated, timid — that may end up doing the devil’s work for him.” — Wall Street Journal
One of the hardest things for a biography is making the written account of a life seem worthwhile reading, but that is precisely where Metaxes’ book excels. Giving a comprehensive view of Bonhoeffer’s life, theology, work, and passion, the book makes you feel a part of the story more than a distant observer. And while you know how the story ends, you find yourself praying for the impossible, for escape, release, for freedom and love to triumph (which, in some ways, truly does).
King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, by Tim Keller. I have really come to enjoy Tim Keller’s writing. In books like The Prodigal God, and Counterfeit Gods Keller applies great perspective and insight from Scripture to our lives today. King’s Cross is not different. Walking through the Gospel of Mark, Keller shows how Christ has come to cut through all the layers we have used to insulate our broken and dying souls, so that he might bring us to new life. “Keller shows how the story of Jesus is at once cosmic, historical, and personal, calling each of us to look anew at our relationship with God.”
The Purpose of Man: Designed for Worship, by A.W. Tozer. We all can recite the first answer of the Westminster Catechism, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” But what does it really mean that our purpose in life is to live for God’s glory? Tozer, a minister in the Christian and Missionary Alliance from 1919 to 1963, argues that in the Garden, man did not have to ask what it meant to worship God, because he lived with and communed with the very presence of God. But since the fall, this sweet communion has been lost, and with it, we have also lost our very purpose in life. Tozer suggests that Christ overcame “death and rose again from the grave… that he might make worshipers out of rebels.” A powerful yet easy read, I highly recommend this for anyone who is interested in regaining a passion for worshiping God.
Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person who ever Lived, by Rob Bell. Okay, a disclaimer first. I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this book. As a matter of fact, I pretty much disagreed with everything written in it. I did not appreciate Bell’s use of Scripture (taking things grossly out of context, or basing an entire argument on one verse while ignoring other passages that might contradict his conclusions), neither do I think that his “deconstructionist” (my term, not his) view of the Church, the Faith, or the Bible is at all helpful to the Kingdom of God. I do not recommend this book to those who are not well versed in Scripture or secure in their reformed faith.
Still, I pass it along to you for this one reason: often times we who think we know what we believe and why need to be challenged out of our complacency (which was one of the reasons I attended Princeton Theological Seminary). Being confronted by something that goes against everything you believe can sometimes help you come to articulate and reform your faith. Bell’s book on Hell has done that for me. There were times I couldn’t stand the book. I’ve highlighted and written my comments throughout his pages. But, praise the Lord, Bell caused me to go back to the Bible and reread what I thought it said, discover what it doesn’t say, and reevaluate my beliefs accordingly. In that regard, I cautiously recommend this book (just don’t let your evangelical friends catch you reading it).