I have been with the opportunity to interact with a several backpacks worth of books every year as I study of PhD. seminars, prepare for sermons, and enjoy the occasional relaxing read Below, I listed short summaries three books I found that profoundly benefited my soul in 2018. If you are in the market for a new book I encourage you to read one or more of the following titles:
– Joe Bayley
Have you ever wondered the church is such a mess; why missions projects fail, and why some pastors have the backbone of milk-soaked piece of toast? Joe Bayly takes on these questions with a series of short-stories that strike the reader with parabolic power. If you are open to an easy read that tackles the uneasy problems of the modern church with page-turning humor and heart wrenching conviction, I encourage you to read The Gospel Blimp. This collection of short stories was written in the 1960s; it relevance has seemingly only increased with the passage of time.
“What repercussions there would be if he coupled these verses for tomorrow’s sermon! The fire would be kindled at eleven thirty a.m. and spread from church through the whole town shortly after noon.
‘‘A sermon against lynching! Why doesn’t he stick to the gospel?” – p.115
– Jonathan Leeman
We all love the church. But few of us have spent time reflecting on how creating a working definition of the church and thinking about how the church should be managed. Leeman’s book on church polity provides insightful looks into both these topics. He defines the local church and then lays out the doctrinal case of elder lead congregational polity. Though written at the popular level, Leeman’s short 200 page book contains many dense sections. But if you have a heart to know more about Christ’s bride and a heart to see your church become more like the churches of the NT, you will find Leeman’s book rewarding. I did. Leeman’s profoundly shaped my understanding of the local church. I trust you too will benefit from this book! If you want the cliff notes version, I encourage you to grab Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman.
Congregationalism, in other words, is not about voting on the color of the pew cushions or photocopier purchases. It is not a democracy in which members ask leaders to represent their views. It is, instead, the trust that Jesus has given to every Christian to take ownership of the gospel witness wherever they live. He authorizes them to do this through gathered assemblies. – p. 117
Biblical Authority After Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestantism Christianity
– Kevin J. Vanhoozer.
The reformation begun in 1517 by Martin Luther has dramatically reshaped Christianity. But change is not always good. Many scholars claim Luther and his fellow reformers undermined the pillars of the Christian faith, preparing the world for secularism and atheism. Kevin J. Vanhoozer devotes his book to answering this charge. He systematically discusses each of the Five Solas – Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, and Glory Alone – explaining how the five interrelated doctrines capture the heart of New Testament Christianity. If you desire to know more about the reformation, more about why the doctrines of grace remain essential, or more about why protestants no longer follow the leadership of Rome, grab a copy of Biblical Authority After Babel.
Grace is the gift of God’s beneficent presence and activity – that is, the communication of God’s own light, life, and love to those who have neither the right to them or claim on God. Grace is God giving what is not owed. Grace is God in communicative action ad extra. Grace is the economic Trinity, the means by which God extends himself towards others, first in creation and later in redemption. Put simply, grace is the Triune God – God sharing his Fatherly love for creation in the Son through the Spirit. – p.53.