It’s not just a children’s literacy organization. Reading is fundamental to our lives as Christians. Daily devotional reading of God’s word and personal, in-depth study of the Bible are non-negotiable necessities. We must pore over the pages of the sacred text as we seek to deepen our understanding, strengthen our conviction, clarify our commission, and enrich our worship.
Additional reading helps us to reach these goals. We all benefit from those who share with us the truth of Scripture and its application to our lives. We can also benefit from a well-written story which helps remind us of an important truth. On many occasions as a pastor I am asked to recommend a book, or commentary, or novel for someone to read. Living in Midwestern Seminary’s town, I have had opportunity to be interviewed by students in our church and answer the question, “What would you consider to be the three most influential books you have read other than the Bible?”
So, just in case your summer reading list is almost completed, let me recommend just a few books I believe are worth everyone’s time…
Saint Ben by John Fischer – This novel, and its sequel, The Saints’ and Angels’ Song, is a heart-warming story about a young boy named Ben Beamering, a pastor’s son. Set in the late 1950′s, this book also pulled me into what is now my fascination with one of the most incredible, and special, automobiles ever built…the Edsel (read the book & you’ll see why). This book impacted me as a father and a pastor reminding me that my boys are just that…boys, and not some stereotype of “PKs.”
The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur – This book sets forth a thorough-going, biblical understanding of what many describe as “lordship salvation.” This book still speaks to a problem faced by our churches today– ‘What does it mean to regenerated by the Spirit of God to a new and living hope?’ Dr. MacArthur provides sufficient eveidence from the gospels that Jesus taught lordship salvation in contrast to the contemporary ‘easy believism’ we find in too many churches today. The companion book, Faith Works, shows that Jesus’ disciples lived and taught the very same Gospel as Jesus had done.
The Long War Against God by Henry Morris – This book will add a greater understanding to the line from the classic song, “This world is not my home/I’m just-a passin’ through.” By this I mean that through Dr. Morris’ treatment of the prevasive impact of Darwinian evolutionary theory, and the correlative social darwinism, he shows that no aspect of this world has been left untouched by this kind of thinking. Dr. Morris also shows the necessity of maintaining a biblically-based, creationist world view for a throughly consistent hermeneutic.
The Agony of Deceit by Michael Horton – This book was the first one I ever read pointing out the dangers of heretical teaching in our day. Mr. Horton pulled together a stellar team of writers to deal with the problematic issues rampant in the teaching of many popular radio and television ministries. He was one of the first to name names and set forth a direct comparison of their words to the words of Scripture. This book has helped me be watchful in my own preaching and teaching ministry as well as to take seriously my responsibility to shepherd the church for which God has given me responsibility to lead.
The Baptist Way by Stan Norman – This book is an exceptional work covering the importance of biblical ecclesiology. Dr. Norman has articulated very well the historic Baptist position regarding the nature and ministry of the local church. I truly believe that this book could serve as the most important work in recent years in which we find a clear discussion of those convictions which are at the heart of our identity as Baptists, specifically as Southern Baptists today.
Well, there you have my five recommendations for your summer reading list. Some who know me well might be concerned about the absence of such great historic writers such as Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, or Edwards. Trust me, they are not forgotten. I think I’ll save them for a “classics” reading list to bring to you later.
Happy reading…remember, reading is fundamental!
By Grace Alone!