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Best Links of the Week

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38% of Americans fail the U.S. Citizenship test

AT&T buying T-Mobile

Strange circumstances surrounding Obama administration policy on action in Libya

Some interesting analysis of cash-only doctors practices

Pastor Accused of Denying Communion to Churchgoers who Didn’t Give Tax Refunds

Scott Walker explains in WSJ Why I’m Fighting in Wisconsin

Chad Ochocinco trying out for Kansas City’s MLS soccer club

There Aren’t Enough Millionaires… (to cover our fiscal/deficit woes)

Hedge Funds had large plays against Japanese economy before earthquake/tsunami

Alan Greenspan says Obama Administration is “Too Active” in Economy.

Possible use of Large Hadron Collider as a time machine?

Obama Budget Underestimates Deficits by $2 Trillion

Kevin DeYoung has a thorough review of Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”

Devastating article examining the essay grading industry

Kindle to be free by the 4th Quarter of 2011?

Journalist grills Rob Bell:

3 Month Introspective

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Introspective

So, I’ve been blogging consistently for three months.  This is the week of Christmas and I’ll be all over the place.  I thought I would briefly summarize the 3 months of blog series on here:

Blaise Pascal:  We took a look at Blaise Pascal’s thinking, its use of aphorism and its relationship to both tri-perspectivalism and presuppositionalism.  We also looked at his use of aphorism and his warnings against deism and atheism.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Past, Present, and Future, Parts 1-7:  We defined the term evangelical.  We looked at its historical roots in the First Great Awakening, Second Great Awakening, and its ties to celebrity culture, democritization of knowledge, and modernism.  Then we looked at the roots of liberalism, the Protestant split and suburbanization, and defined and outlined evangelical populism and their game plan for reaching America.  Finally we assessed the current status of American evangelicalism and then made some predictions of future trends.

Introduction to Apologetics, Parts 1-7:  We looked in broad strokes at the various schools of apologetics.  We then took a more in-depth look at:  Classical Apologetics, Evidentialist Apologetics, Presuppositional Apologetics, and the specific apologetics of Blaise Pascal and Alvin Plantinga.  Finally, we employed the three phases football as an analogy for the different apologetic schools and I likened Tim Tebow to the presuppositionalists.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Moving Forward, Parts 1-10:  We looked at some analysis of some shifts evangelicalism will need to make moving forward:  Doctrine, Worldview, Urbanization, Globality/Mobility, “Post-Modernism,” American Culture(s), Contextualization, Balance, and Final Analysis.

Top ~10 Books by Topic:

Top 10 Systematic Theology Texts

Top 10 Devotional Classics

Top 10 Books on the Church

Top 10 Books on Science and Christianity

Top 10 Books on Christian Biography

Top 10 Books on Culture

Top 10 Books on Eschatology

Top 5 Books on Worldview

Top 15 Books on Status of American Evangelicalism

Top 10 Books on Church History

Top 40 Books to Read While in College

Top 10 Books on Missions, Discipleship, and Evangelism

The 25 Most Destructive Books Ever Written…

Top 10 Apologetic Works

Top 10 Books on Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

Top 10 Books by John Piper

Top 5 Children’s Books

Best Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms of the Christian Church

A Comprehensive List of Top 10 Book Lists of 2009

Up Next:  We will be looking at some thoughts on the economy and investment and then delve into the mind of Friedrich Nietzsche…

Written by Michael Graham

December 19, 2009 at 11:29 am

Best Creeds, Confessions and Catechisms of the Christian Church

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Trinity Shield from Athanasian Creed

Our faith is 2000 years old.  We have a long obedience in the same direction, affirming the same truths.  We are wise to be familiar with the many wonderful orthodox creeds, confessions, and catechisms of the Christian church.

Apostles Creed (~2nd century)

Nicene Creed (325)

Athanasian Creed (5th century)

Definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451)

The Canons of the Council of Orange (529)

London Baptist Confession (1689)

Westminster Standards:  Westminster Confession of Faith, Westminster Shorter Catechism, and Westminster Larger Catechism (1646)

Heidelberg Catechism (1563) – Note:  Kevin DeYoung has a book coming out on the HC next year entitled The Good News We Almost Forgot.  I would be surprised if it was not excellent.  CJ Mahaney says, “Doubtless this will be the finest book I will have ever read on the Heidelberg Catechism. It will certainly be the first.”

Belgic Confession (1618)

Canons of Dordt (1618)

Second Helvetic Confession (1536)

Genevan Catechism (1536)

The Thirty Nine Articles (Anglican, 1572) and Augsburg Confession (Lutheran) are not bad and worth familiarizing oneself.

Also of note is the Westminster Shorter Catechism for kids – the entire list of questions and answers can be found here for free.

Top 10 Books by John Piper

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Desiring God by John Piper

This list is what I think are the 10 best books that I have read from John Piper.  I haven’t read some of the more recent ones, but have heard good things about This Momentary Marriage (a book on marriage apparently).

1.  Desiring God [y, l, e, p, s]

This classic is what introduced me to a sovereign God and the doctrines of grace.  It also taught me that my pursuit of joy and my pursuit of God were one and the same pursuit.  If you cannot get through it or are intimidated by its size, try The Dangerous Duty of Delight, he essentially says the same things, just more concisely.

2.  Don’t Waste Your Life [y, l, e, p, s]

Quite simply this book needs to be read (and can be) by everyone.  The title says it all.  His passion for living a worthy life is infectious.

3.  Let the Nations Be Glad [y, l, e, p, s]

This is his book on missions.  It is excellent.  Reading this book is what compelled me to spend time overseas investing the Gospel into people.

4.  Brothers We are NOT Professionals [l, e, p, s]

Just as relevant in 2009 than it was in 2002.  I agree with my friend James W. that this book ought to be read by every seminarian before and after seminary.  Piper takes aim at the professionalization of the ministry.  We are not professionals, we are shepherds.

5.  The 5 Book Biography Set [y, l, e, p, s]

Each book has three or so vignette-length biographies.  They are all good and the link above takes you to DG’s Christmas sale.

6.  Finally Alive [l, e, p, s]

This book may prove to be one of Piper’s most important contributions.  The book concerns the rarely written on, doctrine of regeneration.  Definitely one of the best books of 2009.

7.  Battling Unbelief [y, l, e, p, s]

This book gives you tools to fight for your joy in Christ when you don’t feel it.  Also, I am told that, When I Don’t Desire God, and When the Darkness Will not Lift are both quite good and in the same vein.

8.  The Supremacy of God in Preaching [e, p, s]

One of the best books on preaching.  Period.

9.  Future Grace [l, e, p, s]

The superior pleasure of Christ and the hope of future grace are our tools in fighting against sin.

10.  God’s Passion for His Glory [y, l, e, p, s]

This books is Piper channeling Jonathan Edwards thoughts (which is much of what Piper has done his entire ministry… and that is a good thing).  We would be wise to listen to Edwards and his vision for a God who is passionate for His own glory.

Honorable Mentions:

What’s the Difference – book on Biblical manhood and womanhood.

Counted Righteous in Christ – book defending the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness.  A critical doctrine and a solid book on the matter.

The Justification of God – rock solid exegesis of Romans 9.  If you have ever had questions about Romans 9, this book will answer them.

(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)

Top 10 Books on Missions, Evangelism, and Discipleship

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Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper

These books are books that are excellent concerning Missions, Evangelism, or Discipleship.

1.  Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper  [y, l, e, p, s]

This classic elevates worship as the goal of missions.  It is an easy and enjoyable read.

2.  The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman  [y, l, e, p, s]

Coleman takes a thorough look at Jesus’ method of discipleship.  A short and easy must read.

3.  From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya:  A Biographical History of Christian Missions by Ruth Tucker  [c, y, l, e, p, s]

Missionary biography is fascinating and oftentimes hilarious.  See my previous write-up here.

4.  Tell the Truth by Will Metzger  [y, l, e, p, s]

Great book on evangelism written from a Reformed perspective.  Metzger challenges people to tell the whole gospel to whole people, causing you to ask the questions, ‘what are the essentials of the Gospel and people?’

5.  Operation World by Johnstone and Johnstone  [y, l, e, p, s]

Operation World is essentially several dossiers on the remaining unreached people groups, giving analysis on how you can pray for them.  Also, Window on the World is like Operation World for kids.

6.  A Faith Worth Sharing by C. John Miller  [c, y, l, e, p, s]

Jack Miller lived a pretty crazy life.  These are some of his stories.  It is a short, encouraging, and easy read.  Also, Miller’s, Heart of a Servant Leader is excellent – it consists of letters he has written to various people under his care throughout his ministry.  Really valuable wisdom.

7.  Transforming Mission by David Bosch  [p, s]

This is a deep, dense, and thorough look at missionary paradigms.  It is not an easy read but patience will be rewarded with excellent deep thought.

8.  Perspectives on the World Christian Movement by Ralph Winter  [y, l, e, p, s]

This is the classic introduction to the task that lies ahead for the worldwide church.

9.  Breaking the Missional Code:  Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community by Ed Stetzer  [l, e, p, s]

Stetzer is quite knowledgeable on how to create church cultures that have real Gospel impact on their community.  Also, Lesslie Newbigin’s, The Open Secret, and Darell Guder’s (editor), Missional Church are excellent.

10.  Re-Entry by Peter Jordan  [c, y, l, e, p, s]

Going from living in one culture back to your culture can really mess you up (just think of the stereotype of the socially awkward and/or out of touch missionary who comes back to give a powerpoint presentation to your church).  Long-term missionaries invariably find themselves in a cultural no-man’s land as they have adopted many of the redeeming aspects of the people they are ministering to, while putting off many of the deplorable or unfortunate aspects of their former culture.  There is also the question of where is home?  The people you are ministering to or the place where you grew up?  Re-Entry is a helpful guide for the returning missionary.

Update:  Highly Recommended

Church Planting Movements by David Garrison

I have heard this book recommended several times (including the comments from this post), so I thought I would put it up here.

(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)

Top 40 Books to Read While in College

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Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

You will never have more discretionary time than while in college.  This is a critical time for you to develop your character and mind.  This is a list of what I think are the most important books to work through during your time as an undergrad.  These books focus on developing your heart to affection (orthopathos), renewing your mind to truth (orthodoxy), and provoking your hands to kingdom work (orthopraxis).  Take 10 books a year and devote 30 minutes a day – you’ll finish the list, perhaps even early.

Note:  I have listed them in order of how I think they should be read and not necessarily in order of how good they are.  For sake of space, I am not going to do a writeup on each of these.  If you have a question(s) about a book(s), just post in the comments.

1.  Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper
2.  Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
3.  The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
4.  Designed for Dignity by Richard Pratt
5.  The Fuel and the Flame by Steve Shadrach
6.  Tell the Truth by Will Metzger
7.  The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman
8.  Holiness by J.C. Ryle
9.  The New Testament Documents:  Are They Reliable by F.F. Bruce
10.  Universe Next Door by James Sire
11.  Knowing God by J.I. Packer
12.  Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey
13.  Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray
14.  Pensees by Blaise Pascal
15.  No Place for Truth by David Wells
16.  The Cross of Christ by John Stott
17.  Culture Wars by James Hunter
18.  Let The Nations Be Glad by John Piper
19.  Salvation Belongs to the Lord by John Frame
20.  Desiring God (or something else more substantial) by John Piper
21.  The John Frame Trilogy:  Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, Doctrine of God, Doctrine of the Christian Life by John Frame
22.  The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington
23.  Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson
24.  Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe
25.  Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards
26.  Love the Lord Your God With All Your Mind by J.P. Moreland
27.  Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson
28.  Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark
29.  Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley
30.  Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
31.  How to Read the Bible for All its Worth by Fee and Stuart
32.  He Gave us Stories by Richard Pratt [there is a nice summary here]
33.  Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin
34.  Confessions by St. Augustine
35.  Warranted Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga
36.  Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche (I included this book because it is important for us to study antithetical works, I will make a list of books like this one later)
37.  What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile
38.  Habits of the Mind by James Sire
39.  Why We’re Not Emergent:  From Two Guys That Should Be by Ted Kluck and Kevin Deyoung
40.  Baptism and Fullness by John Stott

What books would you add?

Top 10 Books on Church History

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Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley

These books are more or less on church history.  I am intentionally not including major works on America and evangelicalism as there will be a post later on Top 10 books analyzing American evangelicalism.

1.  Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley  [y, l, e, p, s]

A classic, readable, simple yet thorough book on church history for everyone.

2.  Turning Points:  Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark Noll  [y, l, e, p, s]

A nice summary of the major turning points in church history.

3.  Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark  [y, l, e, p, s]

Absolute classic, read write-up here.

4.  Church History Volume One:  From Christ to Pre-Reformation:  The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context by Everett Ferguson  [e, p, s]

Probably the best technical volume on church history up to the Protestant Reformation.

5.  The Story of Christianity Volume Two – The Reformation to the Present Day by Justo Gonzalez  [e, p, s]

Probably the best technical volume on church history from the Reformation to present.

6.  The New Testament Documents:  Are They Reliable by F.F. Bruce  [y, l, e, p, s]

The best little book (and extremely readable) confronting the tsunami of criticism heaped on the Bible.  The book is mentioned here for its concise explanation on the formation of the canon of Scripture.

7.  Documents of the Christian Church edited by Henry Bettenson and Chris Maunder  [p, s]

Primary sources are important.  It is rare for people to read primary sources anymore.  Sometimes it is rare to read secondary sources anymore… in the digital age, we read the wikipedia article or a blog post or a book review/summary about a book that is about a primary source.  With that said, this is a great compendium of primary sources of which church histories are written from.

8.  Readings in Christian Thought edited by Hugh Kerr  [p, s]

This volume serves as a good introduction (or remainder) of the main thoughts of the major thinkers/theologians/figures in church history.

9.  Cities of God by Rodney Stark  [y, l, e, p, s]

I have yet to finish this book but it has been quite good thus far.  He draws heavily on themes from his Rise of Christianity, where he demonstrates how Christianities urban presence during plagues and persecutions afforded it incredible influence in a Roman empire that was overwhelmingly non-urban – making the case that Roman culture was made in the cities.  I think there are incredible insights that need to be applied here today and am disturbed at the under-representation of churches in urban areas (for more on this see this post and this post).

10.  The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success by Rodney Stark  [y, l, e, p, s]

Stark makes the list again for some keen analysis on the affect of the church on the world throughout history.  If you like any of his works, you might also check out his For the Glory of God.

(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)

Top 15 Books on Status of American Evangelicalism

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No Place for Truth by David Wells

These books represent the best analysis on the present status and recent history of evangelicalism.  This list is meant to be informative and not to be alarmist or disconcerting.  I think the classic Dicken’s line, ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times‘ will apply the Christ’s church til He return.  It is implicit also in this list that works commending a Christian worldview, like Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth, are must reads.  I have also omitted more esoteric debates including books on open theism, federal vision, new perspectives on paul… etc.  The purpose of this list is zoomed out than those specific issues.

1.  No Place for Truth by David Wells  [e, p, s]

How modernity crept in and screwed up evangelicalism.  Absolute classic.

2.  The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll  [y, l, e, p, s]

The scandal of the evangelical mind is that it is so scarce and scant.  You may also want to read Os Guinness’ Fit Bodies Fat Minds, addressing evangelicalism’s intellectual laziness and preoccupation with the temporary.

3.  The Democritization of American Christianity by Nathan Hatch  [e, p, s]

Fascinating analysis of the democritization of Christianity in America.  His historical analysis is keen and well-researched.

4.  Christianity and Liberalism by J. Greshem Machen  [e, p, s]

This classic work delineates the liberalism of the early 20th century as being a completely other faith than the historic orthodox Christian faith.  86 years later it is still relevant.

5.  God in the Wasteland by David Wells  [e, p, s]

Wells continues where he left off in No Place for Truth, by challenging evidenced consumerism in evangelicalism.

6.  The Courage to Be Protestant by David Wells  [e, p, s]

The title is a play on Paul Tillich’s The Courage to Be.  Tillich’s work was a classic in early 20th century Protestant liberalism.  Wells draws connections between the emergent movement as really being a form of rehashed 20th century era liberalism.  Wells is also scathing on the level and abuse of marketing in modern evangelicalism.  As far as Wells goes, his Above All Earthly Pow’rs s also a worthwhile read:  in terms of analysis Pow’rs is to post-modernity what No Place for Truth was to modernity.

7.  The New Shape of World Christianity:  How American Experience Reflects Global Faith by Mark Noll  [e, p, s]

I am surprised by the lack of press for this book.  Noll examines the history of Christianity in America and draws parallels in key growth areas (Southern hemisphere and the East).  Noll is actually rather positive amid the torrent of bad press on what American Christians are exporting.  This is an important work because we are good to be reminded that American evangelicalism is not the height of church history.  Further, the church is Christ’s and she will prevail.  I think Noll has his fingers on the pulse of what is going on and what is next, we would be wise to listen to what he has to say.

8.  Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism by George Marsden  [e, p, s]

This is a must read if you seek to understand our history.  Also an important work is Revival and Revivalism by Iain Murray.

9.  Reclaiming the Center:  Confronting Evangelical Accomodation to Postmodern Times by Various Authors  [y, l, e, p, s]

Various heavyweights chime in on the necessity of remaining faithful to the preaching of the Word and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you like this work, I suggest also Os Guinness’, Prophetic Untimeliness:  Challenging the Idol of Relevance.

10.  Christless Christianity by Michael Horton  [y, l, e, p, s]

This books has caused a bit of a stir.  You can read John Frame’s book review here.  I have yet to read the book, but I thought it a worthwhile mention to engage in present dialogue over the status of the Gospel in evangelicalism.  From what I gather, Horton has guys like Joel Osteen in view when he speaks of a Christianity without Christ.

11.  Young, Restless, and Reformed by Colin Hansen  [y, l, e, p, s]

This book is an important first look at the growing demographic of young Reformed folk.  This is an area that needs further analysis and hopefully a good work will come soon.

12.  Respectable Sins:  Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges  [y, l, e, p, s]

Bridges is 100% right when he highlights several sins that evangelicals strangely tolerate:  gossip, anger, pride, jealousy, anxiety, and selfishness to name a few.

13.  Why Johnny Can’t Preach:  The Media Have Shaped the Messengers by T. David Gordon  [e, p, s]

Gordon applies Marshall McLuhan’s keen insights to shed light on the dearth of serious bible teaching in evangelicalism.

14.  Confessions of a Reformission Rev by Mark Driscoll  [y, l, e, p, s]

I think Mark Driscoll is a very important voice in evangelicalism, moreso than many of my fellow Reformed brethren.  This book is a humorous yet insightful look into the story of the planting of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  There are many lessons weaved into the narrative that are wise and memorable.

15.  Why We’re Not Emergent:  From Two Guys That Should Be and Why We Love the Church:  In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck  [y, l, e, p, s]

The first book is a solid book on the emergent church.  I also wanted to end this list with on a positive note with Why We Love the Church.  Many times we can get so bogged down in self-criticism that we forget to praise God for all the truly good things he is doing in and through the church in America.

What we need is always adherence to the same three things:  orthodoxy, orthopathos, and orthopraxis.

(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)

Top 10 Books on Christian Biography

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Here I Stand by Roland Bainton

1.  Here I Stand:  A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton  [e, p, s]

This is the definitive biography on Martin Luther.  Luther’s life makes for fantastic reading as Western civilization and church history take sharp turns.

2.  The Life and Diary of David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards  [y, l, e, p, s]

Edwards was enraptured by young David Brainerd, missionary to the Indians.  This is his diary and biography.  It is quite good.

3.  A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George Marsden  [y, l, e, p, s]

Edwards is considered to be the greatest thinker in American history.  He started at Yale at age 14 and completed his graduate degrees at 19.  He was instrumental in the First Great Awakening.  He was a great husband and father.  He was the 2nd President of Princeton and much more.   There are a few good biographies of Jonathan Edwards, this one is brief, readable, and excellent.

4.  From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya:  A Biographical History of Christian Missions by Ruth Tucker [c, y, l, e, p, s]

Missionary biography can be quite comical.  The history of missions reads like a comedy of errors, tragedies, and crazy stories that leave you with the inescapable conclusion that God is real and He is advancing His kingdom despite us.

5.  John Calvin:  Pilgrim and Pastor by William Godfrey [y, l, e, p, s]

There are about a half dozen good biographies on John Calvin.  I can vouch that this one is quite good.

6.  Biography Set by John Piper [c, y, l, e, p, s]

This is a set of 5 books with multiple biographies each.  Brief, readable, and commendable.  The audio/text of these can also be found through a link below.

7.  John G. Paton:  Missionary to the New Hebrides compiled by James Paton  [y, l, e, p, s]

Amazing story.

8.  Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot  [c, y, l, e, p, s]

Elliot writes of the martyrdom of her husband Jim and four others at the hands of the Waodani and then recounts their conversion to Christ.  Tens of thousands of missionaries look to this event and the Life Magazine article about their death as the moment in time they decided to pursue a life of overseas missions.

9.   Autobiography of George Mueller by George Mueller  [y, l, e, p, s]

This guy lived a radical life.

10.  The Autobiography of Charles Spurgeon vol. 1 and vol. 2 by Charles Spurgeon  [e, p, s]

Charles Spurgeon was a fascinating person and fantastic preacher.

I would also commend to you these biographies from Desiring God Ministries.  At their annual Pastor’s Conference, John Piper delivers a biography of some person in church history.  They are concise, excellent, moving, and I highly recommend working your way through them, either on the web or in audio format.

(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)

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