Book Reviews

I read a lot. Reading should be a big part of the pastoral life. I’ve heard this from many sources and I agree. It forces me to consider other theological views and put stuff in front of me I would otherwise not be paying attention to.

Frequently people ask me what I think of certain authors or books and it is helpful to know what they are talking about to give an informed and helpful answer.

So far this year I have read 59 books, 30 of which are theological in nature. I give a rating to every book I read from 1-10. I give out very few 10’s and very few 1’s. In fact, 9’s and 2′ are few and far between. 3 or below is a book I couldn’t even manage to finish. My average rating for theological books is a 6.

The worst theological book this year is a book that didn’t even make my list apparently! I guess I read so little of it I didn’t even bother to record it has having been read. It would have gotten a 1. It was a book about a “theologian” named de Chardin. He was awful and the book was awful. It went into the garbage can.

Besides that one, my next lowest rating was a 4, which went to:

Rob Bell’s Love Wins, because even though Love does win, it doesn’t look anything like Rob Bell’s version of love winning.

A book on Rudolph Bultmann (in the same series as the de Chardin trash). “Theologian” is a term that makes the common man think of a great biblical mind, when in reality “theologian” means, “academic guy who says a lot of stuff coming from the root of his screwy mind that has little if anything in common with the Bible.”

Gabriel and Michael by Gaebelien. I imagine this book would have been better if it were actually about Gabriel and Michael and not as much about ridiculing everyone who disagrees with him on a various assortment of theological issues that had nothing to do with Gabriel and Michael.

The best theological books I’ve read this year, which get a rating of 8, are:

If Ye Shall Ask by Oswald Chambers. I never paid much attention to Chambers over the years. His devotional writings were shoved off by me as not worth my time. But actually, when you read the guy, he has great things to say and a great way of saying them. You should read more of him.

Conformed to His Image, also by Chambers, is more proof that this man has good things to say.

Spirituality According to Paul by Rodney Reeves. This is a brand new book and very well done. My wife has begun to read it and commented “He sounds like you.” With that appraisal, how can you not want to read this book?

These are the highlights and low-lights of my year’s reading to this point. I read 11 books in August and one so far in September, as August kind of wore me out with all the reading. The one book I’ve read this month had to do with the 1957 Milwaukee Braves. Not too theological but highly enjoyable!

Book Review: Spirituality According to Paul

Spirituality According to Paul
By Rodney Reeves
IVP Academic, 2011

Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles, trying to explain to a bunch of heathen scum why the Jewish Messiah should mean anything to them. Paul tells Gentiles to imitate him as he imitates Christ.

What an odd idea! Isn’t that a tad arrogant?

Not really, because Paul is trying to show Gentiles, who probably weren’t paying attention to Jesus and have little knowledge of the Old Testament Law, what it means to follow Christ.

The summation of spirituality for Paul is death, burial and resurrection. These ideas make up the three parts of the book with ample scriptural citations to back up each point. Being joined with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection carries implications in what it means to follow Paul as he follows Christ.

Reeves does a great job of capturing the reality of what it means to follow Christ in the Gospel. This book is not so much focused on Pauline Theology as it is a look at the practical implications for life his teaching has.

It’s a good read and very thought-provoking. I recommend it highly.