Recent Reads January 2022

Some of my favorite posts to read are book reviews and recommendations. It helps broaden out my reading list and keep it fresh. Also, I enjoy seeing how themes about the human condition and experience intersect in various ways. When I read, I like to tag each book with themes for reference for illustrations in my preaching. I’ve provided some tags below if they are of some use or interest to readers.

Here are some of the books I enjoyed recently.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English DictionarySimon Winchester. The story behind the story is often compelling. This is the case in the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. If this book were simply the mechanics of how this mammoth project got done, I’d be interested. But you add in the fact that one of the lead contributors was an inmate in an insane asylum, and you have to keep reading. Themes: providence, suffering

On Reading WellKaren Swallow PriorI can quickly become discouraged when reading outside my comfort zone (theology). With all the choices, I get overwhelmed. Then sometimes, I find myself reading and thinking, “I think there’s more here than I’m seeing.” I’ve often desired to become a better reader. This is why I was interested in On Reading Well. The author makes the case of why this is important in the introduction and specifically to pursue virtue. Then in each subsequent chapter, the author walks through a particular virtue in light of a classic novel. I came away with several tips for reading and several prospects for my reading list. Themes: sanctification, personal growth

The Mystery of Christ, His Covenant, and His KingdomSamuel Renihan. Discussions about covenant theology can often become polemical. And as they do, you notice that people are talking past each other–using the same words but with different definitions or understandings. In this book, Renihan explains the biblical covenants from a Reformed Baptist perspective (1689 Federalism). Before walking through the covenants, he discloses his hermeneutical foundation upon which the position rests. This was a helpful approach, particularly in a context where many people arrive at different conclusions. The “rules” for interpretation undergird the arguments and provide clarity. More than just providing information, the book provoked me to worship the God who ordained the rescue of people like me through the blood of the Lamb. In years to come, I hope that authors like Renihan and his ilk gain a broader reading and influence in discussions about covenant theology. Themes: Covenant Theology, Ecclesiology, Hermeneutics

Revival & RevivalismIan Murray. The author provides a fascinating history of the First and Second Great Awakenings. Murray distinguishes revival (a genuine work of the Holy Spirit) and revivalism (manmade fabrications) in the book. The book is encouraging and discouraging. It is encouraging because it reminds us of how God has worked to save sinners through his ordinary means of grace. But it also is discouraging because we can see many of the pragmatic methods that adorn the trees within the forest of contemporary evangelicalism. While I come away convicted, praying, “Lord do it again.” I’m also looking around and saying to fellow evangelicals, “Let’s not do this again.” History, especially church history, is valuable to drive us back to God’s Word to find his methods. Themes: philosophy of ministry, evangelism, pragmatism

Deacons: How They Serve and Strengthen the Church, Matt Smethurst. Service is vital for a healthy church. This is because it’s by serving that we reflect our Savior (Mk. 10:45). Where there is service, there needs to be leadership. And to lead well, there needs to be an understanding of what to do and why to do it. Smethurst provides a concise and accessible biblical treatment of the office of deacon. In so doing, he shows the value and the beauty of the office. This book is an excellent resource to hand to church members who want to learn more about being a deacon or those considering the office themselves. I just ordered a bunch to use at our church. Themes: Ecclesiology, Service

Previous Recent Reads
September 2021
Summer 2021
April 2020
March 2020