March Staff Picks Part 2: Even More Challenging Books

The March theme for our staff picks is “Books We Find Challenging.”

Sheila’s challenge: Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

bonhoeffer

Sheila says:

“I find Bonhoeffer’s choice challenging. As I am reading through this biography, I’m finding the issues Bonhoeffer faced similar to issues we face today. How do I live as a Christian in the world? How should Christians be involved in politics? The book has also challenged me to think about what I remember about the history of the first half of the twentieth century. I’m not always sure Metaxas’s presentation of the zeitgeist and timeline is accurate, but I need to do more reading to see if my impression is correct.”

Connor’s challenge: Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals by Immanuel Kant

kant

Connor might have said:

“I’m a philosopher, but Kant is challenging no matter who you are.”

On seeing Connor’s Staff Pick, Everyone’s Favourite Campus Chaplain said: “That Connor is a weird guy.” On hearing that this month’s theme was challenging books, EFCC changed his comment to: “Oh, OK, yeah, Kant is challenging.”

The Academics’ Challenge: Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics

Dr. Heather: Volume I.1, The Word of God

word

Dr. Heather says:

“This is the only volume of Church Dogmatics I’ve dipped into so far. It was pretty challenging.”

Ryan: Volume IV.1, The Doctrine of Reconciliation

reconciliation

Ryan says:

“Karl Barth is easily the most important Protestant theologian of the 20th century. Perhaps more than anything else, Barth is challenging because of his rigorous Christocentrism. He wants all theological doctrines to be refracted through the lens of Christ, God’s personal disclosure of Godself to humanity. Readers will find this feature fully on display in this volume of the Church Dogmatics. Let Barth challenge you to see if you really think about humanity in light of Christ.”

Why do we try? Because it is is THE major work of 20th Century Theology. Plus most of our theological friends tend to be Barth scholars.

Books We Probably Should Have Read By Now

The other day I was lurking on the internet and found a post called “12 books we’re all meant to have read but probably haven’t.” I enjoyed reading the list and noting the books on it that I HAVE read, but, sadly, I’ve read fewer than half of the listed books. I’ve heard of them all, and mean to read most of them. Someday. Inspired by this general list, I asked some friends who’ve done seminary studies for thoughts on 10 Books Seminary Students and Graduates are Meant to Have Read — But Probably Haven’t. Here’s our list. Feel free to add titles in the comments.

Bible

1. The Bible. Lots of dipping in to the Bible happens, but how many have actually read the whole thing?

Lewis Mere Christianity

2. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. This is one of the most famous apologetics books. We’ve all heard of it, and may even have it on our shelves, but have we read it?

Confessions

3. The Confessions by Augustine of Hippo. Bits of this book are often assigned reading, and it is often referred to, but read it? All of it? True confessions time!

cost-of-discipleship

4. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is the source of the phrase “cheap grace” but how many have put the phrase in context?

The_Brothers_Karamazov

5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is the Big Russian Novel most often referenced in seminary. Read it? Or is it on your to be read pile still?

city of god

6. City of God by Augustine of Hippo. Everyone expects seminarians to know the main point of City of God, but how many people have actually read this huge book?

Bunyan

7. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. Like Augustine’s City, the main thread of Bunyan’s classic allegory is often referenced, but seldom read. There are lots of children’s adaptations, so perhaps it is easier to fake not reading this book.

my-utmost

8. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. A devotional classic that lots of people talk about, but I don’t know very many people who’ve actually read it.

Foster

9. Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. This is a more recent book, but it has never gone to paperback as the hardcover book sells so well. This is a book often referenced in spirituality classes. The title sounds good, but do we really celebrate discipline?

Boundaries

10. Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Often referenced in pastoral ministry classes, this book has an idea that people talk about a lot, but has that idea been read in context?