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.
If you liked this post, you may be interested in...
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:
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!
Retiring a Jersey: Gregg Allison on the Importance and Role of Christian Education in the Life of the Church
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 "Gregg Allison on the Importance and Role of Christian Education in the Local Church" has been on a #1 streak for a while (a long while!). And it's understandable why. Allison's excerpt resonates so closely with values that keep people coming back to this Brookside Institute site: multiplying ideas for equipping the church, theological formation, and more. (If you've not checked out the post, you can do so here.)
So as a nod of honor to Allison's material, I'm officially going to "retire the jersey." I'll leave the post just as it is on the site and will create a "retired jersey" category in the top posts section of this site's footer. However, moving forward I'll no longer include it in numbers 1-5 of each month's top post (even it continues to dominate 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!
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 - June 2016 through December 2016. 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.
If you're like me, you've perhaps seen some "Top Reading Lists of 2016" floating around the internet and social media. Rather than adding my own such list (though click here to see some other books I've recently recommended), I figured I'd continue my tradition of highlighting some of the "Top Reading Lists of 2016" that I've found beneficial.
In other words, check out these book lists and you'll find some books that are worth reading. Of course, keep in mind that not every book is created equal, remember to read discerningly, and always remember that a careful and responsible reading of the Bible should be our final authority. But I generally think these "sources" are worth listening to for some worthwhile reads (I know I'll hope to be reading many of these I've not yet!) - and to see what's current in Christian publishing today. (Or click here for a bit more on how to R.E.A.D. books well.)
If you're still looking for some last minute Christmas gift ideas or want some reading material for yourself while taking some vacation days, these lists can come in handy that way too!
Below I've included both (1) links to sites where you can see the "top reading lists" (often with some explanation of why books were selected), followed by (2) a listing of books that made their way onto multiple lists. Happy reading!
Christmas is officially five days away (!!), and that means many of us are considering last minute gift ideas for others in our lives. If you're looking for ideas for the "reader" you know, here are six accessible suggestions based on books I've read and recommend, or books that are very much on my radar screen to read soon.
Each of these suggestions has been recently published (in the last 2-3 years) and will be linked to an Amazon page where you can learn more. You'll see they're listed under 6 categories that I try and stay loosely tethered to:
What other books (in any of these categories listed above) would you suggest people consider? List 'em here!
The weeks leading up to the coming of Christ are known as "Advent" in the Christian church - a period of waiting, anticipation, and reflection.
During this Advent Season, I've been reading through Tim Keller's Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ as one way to foster personal relection on Jesus' coming to earth as a baby. (I'm not all the way through it yet, but I know enough to definitely recommend the book.)
In chapter three ("The Fathers of Jesus"), Keller reminds us what the incarnation (Christ coming to earth as a baby) is all about:
The incarnation did not happen merely to let us know that exists. It happened to bring him near, so that he can be with us and we with him" (p. 55).
And then Keller goes on to write about what it means to be with Jesus, and how can cultivate that "with-ness." The questions he is asking are these: "What does it mean to have Jesus in my life? What does it mean to be with Jesus?"
As he develops his responses, one thing Keller mentions - that we can too easily overlook - is that being with Jesus takes courage. Everything he has to say in this section is worthwhile (again, read the whole book), but let me quote from one of Keller's subpoints, that being with Jesus requires the courages to give up your right to self determination.
As you read through the extended quote I've included below, allow this to shape the way you view Advent, and the way you approach the coming of Jesus (and what that means for your life today).
If you're new to the idea of Christian apologetics, this topic is basically talking about introducing and explaining Christianity to others who may have questions about or critiques of the Christian faith. In this sense, apologetics is best seen as a servant of evangelism - sharing the good news of what Jesus Christ accomplished and offers.
1 Peter 3:15 is a great biblical "go to" for the importance of apologetics:
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... (bold emphasis added).
Obviously, explaining Christianity to others and answering their questions is a big category! (There are whole books written just on specific questions - like human origins, the existence of God, the problem of evil, the reliability of the Bible, etc.). And we don't want to give the impression that answering people's questions is ALL we need to be concerned with. Francis Schaeffer reminded us that the "ultimate apologetic" is Christians showing love.
With all that said, books on apologetics have their place and serve a valuable role. Here are 8 books on Christian apologetics I generally point people towards first. My challenge to you isn't to read all 8, but to choose the 1 or 2 that most resonate with you, and start there.
Here are my recommendations. Click on either the pictures or titles below to be taken to an Amazon.com site where you can learn a bit more about any of these books.
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.