Books I’m Working Through (as of July 23, 2009)

I love to read.  I read for various reasons: sermon preparation, relaxation, cultural interest, or for school work (which, Lord willing, will be done in December).  So periodically, I will put up books that I am currently working through that may be of interest to you.  Below are the five I’m working through!

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Always Ready: Directions For Defending the Faith by Dr. Greg Bahnsen (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Foundation, 1996), 288pp., $14.99.

Bahnsen (1948-1995) has given the Christian world a scholarly-yet-accessible work in helping Christians in the area of apologetics (from apologia, which means defense—so this is a primer in how to defend the faith of our Lord Jesus).  This work is broken up into five parts, with each chapter lasting only 3-4 pages.  It came highly recommended to me, and now that I am done with the first part (I bought it today, mind you), I am eager to finish it out. 

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Stephen Prothero, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—And Doesn’t (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 372 pp., $14.95.

Having already read one of his works (American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a Cultural Icon—a good read, by the way), I eagerly purchased this one.  Prothero is the chair of the religion department at Boston University. 

The premise is fantastic.  We are a country of religious illiterates.  We not only fail to understand the Christian moorings on which we ride, but we fail to understand other religions and the countries that are defined by our religion.  Our White House from Reagan on has many economic advisors, but few religion advisors.  Knowing how to deal with Middle Eastern countries by being well-versed in Islam is key, but missing.  Same with China and Confucianism, India and Hinduism, etc.  Our identities are tied up in our founding beliefs.  This book examines the reasons behind this illiteracy and the reasons why we need to be more literate. 

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Edmund Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1988), 272 pp., $9.99.

When Christ approached the two disciples on the Emmaus Road after his resurrection (Luke 24:13-35), he took time to explain to them from Moses and the Prophets all that the Old Testament had to say about him.  Christ told them they were “slow of heart” to not understand from the Old Testament who He is and what would become of Him. 

Clowney (along with his disciples, Dennis E. Johnson and Tim Keller) have helped me to preach from the Old Testament in a Christian manner.  We want to discard the Old Testament rather than embrace all that Christ fulfilled in it (Matthew 5:17-18).  Beginning from Adam and Eve through the prophets, Clowney takes us on a marvelous journey.  Your pastor has been well-served by this book—and I pray that in turn you will be as well.

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Clement Eaton, Jefferson Davis (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1977), 334 pp., out of print—can purchase used on Amazon.

I found this book at a used book store here in Lexington.  My desire is to work through a biography of all the American Presidents.  And like it or not, Jefferson Davis was an American President (yes, the Confederate States of America, but let’s not get picky).  Plus, I just finished a Lincoln bio by David Herbert Donald, so I thought I’d give Davis equal time.

I don’t know much about Clement Eaton (1898-??) except what I find on Wikipedia: he was a historian of the American South and contributed a number of works in that field.  I am halfway through this book and appreciate the balance with which he presents Davis: a man who desired states-rights (which meant the right to slavery) and fought hard for Southern interests while serving in the Senate for three terms in the 1840s and 1850s as well as Secretary of War in President Franklin Pierce’s administration. 

Right now, I am to the part where secession is imminent.  I look forward (eventually) to finishing this up. 

Now, some of you may ask, “How do you have time to read?  Do you skimp on other things so you can read what you want?”  If you watch LOST, you may remember a scene at the beginning of the season when Sawyer was in charge of the compound and a crisis was upon them.  Jack (the former leader who used to act impulsively) came in and found Sawyer reading a book instead of acting.  Sawyer commented that Winston Churchill used to read a bit every night, saying it helped him think. 

Reading helps me to gain different perspectives on different things, and the Lord uses that to help rearrange the furniture in my mind to think through things better.  It’s one of life’s simple but grand pleasures. 

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