Books I’m Reading Now

January 14th, 2013 / 4 Comments

Too many books, too little time! I’m working on several conferences and research projects, and much of my reading lately is geared toward those endeavors.

Below is the list of books I’m reading at present. I’ve finished some, am mostly through others, and a few I’ve only started. Perhaps you can tell by the titles that I’m working on four different projects/conferences: leadership, evolution, kenosis, and Arminianism. Just looking at those four topics makes me realize how much fun I get to have thinking about important issues and helping others do the same!

Speaking of God: Relational Theology, by Paul R. Sponheim – I really enjoyed Paul’s newer book, Love’s Availing Power. And with the recent release of a book I co-edited, Relational Theology: An Contemporary Introduction, I bought this book to see how Paul Sponheim talks about relational theology.

Relational Leadership: A Biblical Model for Influence and Service, by Walter C. Wright. I’m directing a leadership conference at my institution February 7-8. Walter Wright is one of the keynote speakers, so I thought I’d get this book to see what he’s saying. Of course, I love the title and the notion that leadership can be best understood through a relational lens!

Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, Vols 1 and 2, Craig S. Keener. This is one of those projects that I heard about from other scholars and decided I need to read for myself. I’m very interested in the miraculous as it pertains to questions of God’s love and power. I’m hoping this book will give me new insights!

God, Chance, and Purpose: Can God Have it Both Ways, by David J. Bartholomew. I recently applied for a grant to write a book on purpose and providence. In doing my research, this book by Bartholomew came up. So I decided I wanted to see for myself what it says.

The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say about Human Origins, by Peter Enns. I’m co-directing a project that encourages Christians to consider or explore evolution and theology. One central set of issues in this exploration is how to interpret the first chapters of Genesis. I’ve been impressed with Pete Enns’s work in the past, so I’m reading this book to help me on my project.

Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology, by Thomas H. McCall. The author of this book is a clear thinker, and I’m intrigued by the metaphysical questions of the Trinity. So when I read some sections of the book on Amazon, I realized I need to read the whole book.

Arminius and His Declaration of Sentiments: An Annotated Translation with Introduction and Theological Commentary, by W. Stephen Gunter. In November of 2013, I’m responding at the American Academy of Religion to two new books on Arminius. This is one of them. I’ve nearly read it all already, and I’ve found it really interesting.

Exploring Kenotic Christology: The Self-Emptying God, C. Stephen Evans, ed. One set of ideas I’ve been developing for several years revolves around what I call “essential kenosis.” This book explores the general kenosis theme, and so I thought I should give it a close reading to see if I can find some new insights to help my own work.

Divine Humanity: Kenosis and the Construction of a Christian Theology, by David Brown. See explanation above.

The Violence of Scripture: Overcoming the Old Testament’s Troubling Legacy, by Eric A Seibert. I’m not reading this book for any particular project. I simply purchased it to help me help others deal with the very troubling passages in the Bible that advocate violence, especially divine violence.

The World Café: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations that Matter, Juanita Brown with David Isaacs. At the upcoming NNU leadership conference, we’re talking about issues of leadership in small table discussions. This book provides a rationale and guidelines for the importance of conversational learning.

Darwin’s Myth: Malthus, Ecology, and the Meaning of Life, by Roger A Sawtelle. The author of this book and I have exchanged some emails lately about science and God. He was kind enough to send me a complimentary copy of his book, so I’m reading it now.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek. This book is pretty famous. And I actually completed it over Christmas break. But some of its ideas will play a formative role in the leadership conference coming up in February.

Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything, Gerald Rau. This book should prove helpful in the evolution and creation projects I’m doing at the moment. I’ve scanned the contents and chapters, and it looks to be a helpful resource.


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Hans Deventer

Interesting list, Tom. Will you also write some comments when you’ve finished them?

Thomas Jay Oord

I don’t have plans to write comments, Hans. I plan on using the insights or ideas in future research and various projects, however.


Great List. I will be interested in hearing more on violence in the OT. Initial thots gave me pause to wander into the OT supposing we worship a dipolar (not bipolar) God. My next foray considered if we have a redactive problem between the Textual God of Scripture and the Actual God of Scripture. Though it focused on humanity’s redemptive enlightenment it was not fruitful to speculate overmuch on the fallout between divine revelation and authorial interpretation culturally, nationally, or religiously. My next stop was to reconsider Jesus as the full interpretation of the OT and ask why God isn’t view in this light by Israel? And in what sense was the YHWH of the OT Jesus’ God, who was Himself, YHWH Incarnate of the OT… here’s where theology seems to get warped and I’m back to a dipolar God epitomized by History channel’s “The Bible.” My overall sense is a backwards reading of Jesus into the OT theologically (which is kinda like prooftexting contextually). Anything un-Jesus-like is not of God – but then I get back to Textual God vs. Actual God of the bible v. redactive authorship. The divide between severe judgment and severe grace is very great if I exclude the warm, sentimental, divine depictions of God’s OT love and grace. Siebert helpfully points these out but there is no resolution except the typical Christian response to which I think you and I are tempted to go…. One last thot is to not read the OT so literally but as a comparative journal set against polytheistically driven humanism… again, this is redactive but can allay interpretive Christian actions to support Inquisition-like faith activity. And lastly, maybe our Jesus of the Bible is just too sentimentalized by our wish for God’s love to be found everywhere. The harsher reality of sin confronts us to action. Unfortunately, our action usually ends up with swords and shields and not love and mercy. Quite the conumdrum. So I’ll be interested to see where you go with this… the best I can do for now is to eclectically pick between all of the above against my new emergent/neo-orthodox enlightenment.

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