Books I’m Reading These Days

February 13th, 2012 / 5 Comments

Too many books. Too little time. Most people I know share my predicament. But here are some books I’m reading these days…

The following are not thorough book reviews. Nor are they endorsements for “the best books I’ve ever read.” Instead, they are books that pique my interest and sit on my “currently reading” bookshelf.             

The Dark Side of Destiny: Hell Reconsidered – Greg Crofford’s e-book explores the afterlife in bold and biblically faithful ways. Crofford’s book adds an important voice to the continuing discussion of hell, in the wake of Rob Bell’s best-seller, Love Wins. The Dark Side of Destiny attempts to account for a loving God and the reality of sin.

Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism – Alvin Plantinga addresses the relation between evolution and religion. He argues that scientific naturalism is the culprit for the disagreements that arise between the two. I find many of his arguments convincing, but I think he fails to take seriously the need to revision divine power in light of the conflicts.

Super, Natural Christians: How we should love nature – Sallie McFague’s book has actually been in print for fifteen years. A friend recommended the book as a possible text for my upcoming Theology of Nature-Backpacking class I plan to teach in May. I absolutely love this book! McFague may be a bit too philosophical for some readers, but I think she hits the right notes at the right time. Great music emerges!

Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution – I read Karl Giberson’s book a few years ago when it was first published. I’m rereading it as I teach a philosophy of science class. Karl does a fantastic job of weaving personal reflection, historical narrative, and theological/scientific rumination. This book is excellent.

The Bible Tells Me So: Reading the Bible as Scripture – It may seem odd to include a book on this list that I co-edited (with Richard Thompson), but I’ve been rereading chapters and loving it. It’s too early to tell, but this book may have a big enough influence to move a denomination toward a more adequately Wesleyan approach to the Bible.

The Prudence of Love: How Possessing the Virtue of Love Benefits the Lover – Eric J. Silverman articulates in philosophical language a truth we all seem to know: loving others benefits the one doing the loving too. The prose is analytic, which will not thrill every reader. But the argument is sound and sophisticated.

The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy, and Faith – This new book from Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp is the result of literally thousands of pages of emails. The succinct writing style argues for the plausibility of Christian faith in light of contemporary science and philosophy.

Principles of Neurotheology – I’ve only cracked this book, but I’ve been meaning to dive deeper into the kinds of questions Andrew B. Newberg addresses in this book. I hope it helps me to be better informed of the looming issues in Christian faith and neuroscience.

Best Practices of Online Education: A Guide for Christian Higher Education – I’m presenting an academic paper on online Christian education with my colleague, Jay Akkerman. Our dean, Mark Maddix, has edited this electronic book of essays on the subject, and some of the essays have helped me frame my own arguments for the paper. I expect this book to be cited often in the ongoing quest to conceptualize online education.

Loosing the Spirits: Interdisciplinary, Interreligious, and Intercultural Mappings of a Spirit-Filled World — This edited book, by Amos Yong, Veli-Matti Karkkainen, and Kirsteen Kim, does what its subtitles indicates: explores “spirit” in many dimensions. I was especially impressed by a chapter by Mark Wallace on Christian animism, green theology, and the global crisis. This book isn’t yet in print, but I think it will spark some great conversations when it finally becomes available in hard copy.

Arminius Speaks: Essential Writings on Predestination, Free Will, and the Nature of God — John D. Wagner pulls together some important writings of James Arminius in this reader. I’ve been brushing up on my Arminian theology as I prepare for a conference at Point Loma Nazarene University on the theology of James Arminius.

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Ron Hunter Jr.

Why don’t we study a more comprehensive soteriology? The push and shove from a personal salvation to a more corporate theology seems to have left many in the conversation unsure what a Weslyan perspecive of Salvation is. This needs to be more than a discussion about Hell and naturalism, but of a loving salvation.
I too am drawn to the novelty issues and discussions, but I think it’s time to discuss it’s core. (I know that for you this is summed up by a four letter word, but where is this best translated into a soteriology?)

Jeremy Hugus

These are good questions, Ron.

For me, I have found it helpful to think of salvation and redemption together as very similar, but perhaps slightly differently angles on what emerges when that “four letter word”—I’ll go ahead and call it love—“happens.”

I tend to think of salvation as that which happens moment by moment when I chose right, loving response to God’s call of love in my life. The culmination of my love-responses enable God to work more profoundly in and through me and in the process save me from the outcomes of sin-the brokenness, violence, evil etc. that I’d inevitably face were I to respond in unloving ways. If that isn’t salvation, I don’t know what is.  In a sense, then, salvation is that reality that spares me from all the nonsense that God would have us avoid in the first place.  And, redemption for me is the ushering in of the good life.  God’s love at work in my life, in concert with my loving decisions transforms brokenness and created new, abundant life and beauty where it might not otherwise exist. This brief take on a comprehensive soteriology involves both the negative and positive then: saving from the “bad” and creating “good” in its place.  Cheers.

John King

Great list of books.  I am always looking for new suggestions to add to my reading list.  I have read most of Clayton’s new book.  I think it is great!


You might find of some interest this article
“Rethinking Prayer and
Health Research: An Exploratory Inquiry on Prayer’s Psychological

Bryon McLaughlin

Hi Tom,

Thanks for this helpful list of titles. I deeply appreciate it when theological educators share the books that have helped them. I’d appreciate a future blog where you’d comment on the most important books to have shaped your faith and theological outlook, esp. if you broke those up between Wesleyan/Nazarene and non-Wesleyan/Nazarene titles.  Thanks for taking the time to share!

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