Books to Conquer in 2012

Last week I posted the top 10 books I read in 2011. Now I list 10 books I hope to conquer in 2012.

1. God’s Word in Human Words by Kenton Sparks. I am currently reading this, about a third of the way through. I bought it with an Amazon gift card I received for Christmas. So far I have enjoyed engaging with it, though it is difficult to consider some of the things proposed. Sparks is himself an evangelical, believing in the inspired and authoritative nature of Scripture. And, in this book, he is looking to help other Christians understand how to engage with historical criticism’s claims regarding the biblical text.

2. The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez. I have had this book down on my ‘reading list’ for a long, long time. I picked it up this past year, read the beginning pages, and then never picked it up again. I read this two-volume work about nine years ago when I took two semesters of church history. But I am interested in reading and studying more on church history, so I want to go back and start with this work.

3. The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View by Richard Tarnas. I originally read this in university in a philosophy class, but I want to go back and re-read it to refresh my memory in regards to the development of western thought, at least from a non-Christian’s perspective. I don’t think I paid too much attention to the book when I had to read it some ten years ago.

4. Theology After Darwin edited by R.J. Berry and Michael Northcott. After engaging with Denis Lamoureux’s book,  I Love Jesus and I Accept Evolution, I want to reflect more upon the theological issues that arise if evolution was the process by which God chose to create and Genesis 1-2 is, therefore, not a ‘literal’ account of origins.

5. An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination by Walter Brueggemann. Here is a Christian scholar engaging with all the critical issues surrounding the authorship, historicity and literary factors of the Old Testament Hebrew Bible. Sparks (whom I mention in #1) has been good. This might be the last work I engage with on the issue of Christian beliefs in light of historical criticism, at least for a while.

6. The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald (pseudonym for Robin Parry). Parry gets the pseudonym name from two of the most prominent Christian universalists in Christian history – Gregory of Nyssa and George MacDonald. Evangelical universalism does not teach that all are saved regardless. It rather teaches that, by the work and grace of Christ, all will ultimately be saved by Christ. Most are aware of Rob Bell’s contribution this past year, which I reviewed here. I think Parry-MacDonald’s will be a little more theologically substantive. And, though I reckon I would not fully agree with every point, I still believe the theology is worth engaging with, not running from it.

7. Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet by Jonathan Merritt. I purchased this book a year and a half ago, but I have still not dipped into it. I want to read it in an attempt to understand more of the ‘green’ issues of the day.

8. The Fourth Book of The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. I had been awaiting this book for quite some time. It finally came out a couple months ago. I recently purchased it and am now 300+ pages into the 850-page book.

9. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein. I suppose plenty of people are going to be taking up this task in order to prepare for the release of part 1 of the movie next December.

10. The Litigators by John Grisham. I am a Grisham fan. I’ve read all his works. So I need to ‘catch up’ and read his most recent release.

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10 thoughts on “Books to Conquer in 2012

  1. I have just begun Daubigne’s History of the Reformation.
    I am also seriously considering working through Charles Hodge’s Theology. If I do, I must begin soon.
    Happy New Year, and happy reading.

  2. Brueggemann is awesome!

    He doesn’t feel bound to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture! Praise God!

    He teaches that the Old Testament does not give us actual history or “reportage” of history, but a “sustained memory that has been filtered through many generations of the interpretive process, with many interpreters imposing certain theological intentionalities on the memory that continues to be reformulated.

    ” Memory is critical because Israel has transmitted its faith to us through story. “Story is not interested in ‘deep structures,’ in ‘abiding truths,’ nor in ‘exact proofs.’ It does not trade in ‘eternal realities,'” he writes in the introduction to his Genesis commentary

    When asked in an interview if Scripture was his authority, Brueggemann replied, “it’s the chief authority to me as long as one can qualify that to say that it is the chief authority when imaginatively construed in a certain interpretive trajectory.

    How true, how true!

    As an open / process theist he is the darling of the theo-left who makes N.T. Wright look like a bible-thumping Fundamentalist!

  3. I love Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald

    This isn’t a “many different paths leads to God” universalism, this is a many differnt paths leads to God cause Jesus loves ’em” universalism!

    MacDonald/Parry shows his intellectual accum with a deft handling of a few selceted verses of scripture that he prooftexts with with the skill of a surgeon!

    He doesnt get bogged down in a careful, close reading of what the bible teaches about eternity and judgement. A great book for those with itching ears!

  4. Scott –

    Looks like you enjoy reading ‘bad boys’ of evangelicalism.

    Some evangelical theology disappoints me in its overly structured, fear-driven focus. And so it will be nice to chew on these 2 books you refer to. I think Brueggemann’s book will be similar to Sparks’, at least in overall conclusions. I am not sure I can accept every nuance. But it has been worth engaging with thus far. And, while evangelicals leave aside many “reconciliationist” passages of Scripture, and emphasise certain “hell” passages (possibly misunderstanding Hades and Gehenna), I still believe that to fully accept any kind of evangelical universalism is to miss some important passages as well. In the end, I hope the tensions of scripture challenge both sides.

    • Those conservative evangelicals ARE too much focused on structured orthodox doctrines and fear!

      Evangelicals do indeed leave aside many passages of Scripture thus lead to misunderstanding

      I can only hope that soon our atheist evangelicals, non-trinitarian evangelicals, Christ not divine evangelicals, and polytheistic evangelicals will soon stand up so we can chew on their scholarly works and allow the tensions of scripture to challege the evangelical positions here as well!

      Keep up your itchy teaching for itchy ears!!!

      • Scott –

        Sorry, but I believe I am going to disappoint. Not gonna encourage atheism, non-divine Christ, non-trinitarian, polytheistic beliefs. Maybe someone will scratch your greater itching desire.

      • Don’t limit God!!!

        That’s what the conservative evangelics do with their “only some make it to heaven” bit

        But maybe your ministry only concerns the ecumenicalism of all religions, universalism, and the non-historical bible!

        Well keep teaching on those subjects for those with itchy ears ’cause ur the best!

      • Don’t limit God!!!

        That’s what the liberals do with their “its all ok” bit.

        But maybe your ministry concerns the ecumenicalism of all religions, universalism, and the non-historical bible!

        Well keep commenting on those subjects for those without itchy ears wonder if ur the best!

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