A couple of years ago, I wrote a short post advocating the idea of building a biblical and theological "library" of books - a shelf (or shelves) with trusted books that can relied on to guide you in reading the Bible and navigating theological topics. Some of these are books to read straight through; others are books to keep handy as reference books and turn to on an as-needed basis. All of them are worthwhile.
I'm still a fan of the books I recommended in the initial post - even as I figured it's time to add a few more books to the list. If you're looking to slowly start building or adding to a biblical and theological library yourself, here are four books to add to the shelf:
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What books would you have included, that I didn't here? (Because let's be honest, there are lots of additional books that can be a part of a good biblical and theological library, that I didn't include here for space reasons.) List anything you'd add (and why!) here.
Happy Reformation Day! On this day, 500 years ago, Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Chapel - the event that we now commonly look to as igniting the Protestant Reformation.
Below I've collected a handful of resources that will help you understand a bit more about the Protestant Reformation and reflect on its ongoing significance. I encourage you to choose 1-2 links that interest you most and dig in. If you've got kids at home, consider bringing up some of the "big takeaways" with them, and inviting them into remembering the positive significance of the Reformation today. I've included a couple of accessible books that motivated learners can read.
Many of you are likely familiar with the Netflix hit show, "Stranger Things" (season 2 releases in just a couple of days!). I, for one, watched it last year and really enjoyed it.
Surely, part of my enjoyment was nostalgia - since I grew up in the 1980s (the setting of the show). But that's not all. Much of my enjoyment was because of excellent story telling and how Stranger Things helps us picture a "re-enchanted world" where there's more going on than science can fully explain. In the secular West, I wonder if more and more people hunger for this re-enchantment - echoes of a memory instilled in us as image bearers of God. The popularity of Stranger Things suggests that this musing of mine (and many others, including Mike Cosper and James K.A. Smith, both teasing out Charles Taylor) - that people hunger for re-enchantment - is correct.
The story Stranger Things tells is intricate enough that I won't try and reduce it to a few sentences. I'll focus instead on just one feature of it. As season 1 unfolds, the viewer learns that in the world of Stranger Things, there's something of an alternate dimension running alongside our own - a world with its own creatures; a world that's darker and a bit more decayed; a world that sometimes interrupts our own, and has points of contact with it. In Stranger Things, this darker-and-decayed alternate dimension is called "the Upside Down."
Here's where I'll stop describing Stranger Things and draw a connection to our own world, by asking a question: What if OUR world is really the Upside Down?
As the Brookside Institute champions the value of biblical literacy, we don't do this in some abstract or indifferent way. We want to value biblical literacy so that we're transformed by the Bible.
If that's the case, that means there's a whole lot riding on whether the Bible is a trustworthy book. Some version of "Can I trust the Bible?" is being asked in lots of ways today, and so responding to this question is important. Here's why: The greater our confidence IN the Bible, the more we'll base our lives ON the Bible. We'll never base our lives on something we don't have confidence in.
This last weekend, I spent about 30 minutes responding this question, "Can I trust the Bible?" Check out the video below to see what I said.
Interested in more on this? Check out the following posts:
If you ever check out the footer of this site, where we highlight the top 5 posts of the previous month, you'll have seen "What is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism? And How Does it Stack Up against Biblical Christianity?" has been on a #1 streak for a while (a long while!). And it's understandable why.
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD) is often called the "default religion" of many Americans - whether they consciously articulate it or not. And MTD is definitely NOT a direct overlap of biblical Christianity. To understand the "background noise" that informs the perspective of many Americans - even American Christians - one needs to understand MTD.
If you've not checked out the post, you can do so here.
So as a nod to the popularity of this post, I'm officially going to "retire the jersey." I'll leave the post just as it is on the site and will include it in the "retired jersey" category of this site's "Library" page. However, moving forward I'll no longer include it in numbers 1-5 of each month's top posts (even though it continues to rank highly among the website "hits" for individual posts), thus allowing room for other posts.
Interested in other posts that have gotten a lot of traffic on this site recently? Click here to check 'em out!
Interested in seeing all of the "retired jersey" posts up to this point? Here they are:
I've mentioned a few times already on this site that theology is important in and for the life of the church, but that sound theology isn't the ONLY the thing a church should be concerned with. Here's one short excerpt from a previous post:
So a right theology is not enough - at least not if we define theology primarily in terms of what we KNOW at a cognitive level. We also need to respond rightly - with faith, trust, awe, worship, and obedience" (We NEED Sound Theology. And We Need MORE THAN Sound Theology.
We need to keep this mind - in all the ways this quote highlights and more.
But I also want to keep my foot on the gas pedal of the important - essential! - contribution that sound theology does make in and for the life of the local church.
I love how Keith Johnson brings this out in his recent Theology as Discipleship (p. 77). Read this slowly:
We practice theology in order to guide the church as it thinks and speaks about God. This work is our specific commission. God has given us the task of bringing order to the church's language, and this task puts in a position of service rather than superiority. We are responsible for directing the church so that its prayer, worship, and preaching correspond to God's being and character. Our goal is to help the church become confident that its claims about God are true so it can teach believers within the church - and proclaim the gospel to those outside the church - in grace and truth" (Keith L. Johnson, Theology as Discipleship, p. 77).
Let's not abandon this "specific commission" Johnson calls us to. We need to champion theology, we need to create space to read and study theology, and we need to teach theology. As we do this, our posture is one of service. Our goal is to faithfully align with God's self-revelation in the Bible (no more, but no less) to equip the church in her prayer, worship, preaching, service, and witness.
The local church needs the essential contribution theology makes.
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Based on the number of "hits" each month, here are the top 5 posts here on the Brookside Institute blog for the last six months - January 2017 through June 2017. Take a minute to scroll through the list below and either catch up on things you may have missed or revisit things that were especially helpful.
We're just wrapping up the "Things to Fight For" series that we've been in the last few weeks. (I encourage you to go online to www.brookside.net and listen to the sermons. Go to our messages link and find the sermons preached May 21-July 02, 2017.)
Each week, we've looked closely at the Bible to see what it says about the following topics:
To help Brooksiders get and stay "in the fight" in these areas, each week we've also been recommending books that will drill down more deeply into each of the topics. These book recommendations are a great way to multiply an ethos of equipping in the life of the church.
I figured it'd be worthwhile to collect ALL of the book recommendations across the entire series, and put them in one place. Check out what follows for the books we recommended each week during this "Things to Fight For" series:
Something big happens in Acts 2 - it's one of THE pivotal events of the Bible.
Before Acts 2, things are fairly still. We find Jesus’ first disciples huddled in an Upper Room. After Acts 2, we find Jesus’ disciples spreading out through Jerusalem, into the larger region, and even getting to Rome! (Which is a long way, especially when there aren’t airplanes or cars.) Something happens in Acts 2 that changes the playing board and Jesus’ followers go from huddled together to spreading out on mission!
Before Acts 2, we know that the sum total of Jesus followers was about 120. That’s not a lot of people! By the time we get to the end of Acts 2, we learn that number has multiplied to 3000 people - and then if you keep reading into Acts 4 you find that pretty quickly that number jumps from 3000 to 5000! Something happens in Acts 2 that catalyzes this exponential growth !
Something happens in Acts 2 where the gate opens up and the picture changes from preparation and anticipation to one of bold movement and fresh life! There's no way to exaggerate how pivotal of a turning point Acts 2 is in the story of the church!
So the question we should all be asking now is this: “What happens in Acts 2?!” What happens that propels the early church forward in all of these ways? And what does all this mean for our lives TODAY?
To dig into these questions, check out this sermon I preached on "The Gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:1-47) earlier this year.
Summer is almost upon us!
If you've got some extra time over the next couple of months - maybe you're traveling a bit, or your summer schedule allows you more time to read for other reasons, or you just want some book recommendations as you maintain a habit of reading - here are a few books you may want to consider. These are books that I've either read recently myself, or am hoping to dig into in the next couple of months.
I encourage you to explore these books a bit (each is looked to their Amazon page where you can learn more) and jump in - the water's fine!
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