2010 Reading

I didn’t get as much reading done in 2010 as I did in 2009, but that reflects the stage of life I’m in. Here are the books I finished this year:

  • The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton — Walton makes the case for a “cosmic temple inauguration” view of Genesis one. A lot of interesting material, but he doesn’t make a convincing case, and not too many Old Testament scholars seem to accept his hypothesis. The greatest value of this book was the reinforcement of how very different the Old Testament Hebrew culture and world view was from our own.
  • Luther for Armchair Theologians by Steven Paulson — I have described myself for several years as an Evangelical Christian who leans more toward Luther than Calvin. Paulson gives a good overview of Lutheran theology.
  • The Reason for God by Timothy Keller — A better book on apologetics for our time than Mere Christianity. I’m teaching through this book in adult Sunday School right now.
  • The Gods of War by Meic Pearce — The subtitle is “Is religion the primary cause of violent conflict?” Pearce argues that the two main causes of war are greed and culture (I would have said greed and fear). Religion often intensifies the cultural causes of war, but is only part of a complex picture, and can have a positive influence as well. This book counters the secularist argument that religion is the main cause of war, but also is sobering to me as a Christian as I reflect on our own less-than-perfect history.
  • The New Atheists by Greg Koukl — Short, but a good introduction to the logical fallacies that plague the new atheists such as Dawkins and Hitchens.
  • Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer — This was my second time through this classic on how to live as the body of Christ.
  • A Declaration of Energy Independence by Jay Hakes — Our dependence on overseas oil is a grave threat to our national security, economy, and the environment. As a nation, we’ve had our heads buried in the sand for the past 30 years.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis — This is probably my fourth or fifth time through The Chronicles of Narnia. It is just as good each time, and always better than the movie versions.
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis — I haven’t seen the movie yet.
  • The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

I have a number of books that I read significant portions of, but didn’t finish:

  • Science & Faith: Friends or Foes? by C. John Collins —  He makes a good case for the “analogical days” interpretation of Genesis One.
  • The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns — Stearns is president of World Vision, an Evangelical Christian relief and development organization. I have some hesitations about the title, but this is an excellent book about global poverty and what we as Christians should and could do about it.
  • The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
  • Biblical Eldership by Strauch — A good book on being a church elder, but it could have been about a third the length and said the same thing.
  • The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright — A big book. I might not finish it in 2011 either.
  • The Green Bible — NRSV with introductory essays and green letters for verses relating to the creation and environment (some of them are a bit of a stretch). I won’t use the NRSV on a regular basis, but read the introductory essays.
  • The Spirituality of the Cross by Gene Edward Veith
  • The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
  • Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher — This book comes close to defining where I am at politically. I had two posts about Crunchy Cons this year:  A Crunchy Con Manifesto and Crunchy Con Environmentalism.
  • Understanding Non-Christian Religions by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart
  • The Devil We Know by Robert Baer — Subtitle: “Dealing with the new Iranian superpower.”
  • Mapping Forestry edited by Peter Eredics — Using GIS for forestry applications.
  • ARC Hydro by David Maidment — GIS for surface water resources.

Grace and Peace

Top apologetics books

Throughout the centuries, there have been a number of very able defenders of the truthfulness of the Bible and Christianity. C. Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen lists Top Fifteen Must Have Books on Apologetics. His top five are:

  1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  2. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Habermas and Licona
  3. The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright
  4. Faith Has its Reasons by Rob Bowman and Kenneth Boa
  5. The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer

He has a poll, where readers of his blog currently have a different top five:

  1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  2. The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright
  3. Reasonable Faith by William Craig
  4. The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
  5. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

I’ve read Mere Christianity, The God Who is There, The Reason for God, and parts of The Case for Christ and Reasonable Faith, and recommend all of them. I have The Resurrection of the Son of God in my Amazon shopping cart, but am not making book purchases right now.

Grace and Peace

Reading — August 2009

My friend Glenn has advice on Disciplined Reading. Check out his 75 books that have powerfully influenced him.

Here are the books I’ve been working on in August:

  • Beyond Creation Science — by Timothy Martin and Jeffery Vaughn. A good Biblical analysis of young-Earth creationism mixed with a “Jesus has already returned” eschatology (full preterism).
  • The History of the Ancient World — by Susan Wise Bauer. I’ve been in this book all summer, and am up to the Assyrian conquest of Egypt.
  • Dune — science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. The book is interesting for its perspectives on ecology as well as its plot and imagination. “You cannot go on forever stealing what you need without regard to those who come after.” (Kynes having a delusion of his father lecturing him as Kynes is dying in the desert)
  • The Apocrypha — Though not considered to be Scripture by Protestants, these Jewish writings fill in the historical gap between Old and New Testaments. These books were included in Luther’s German Bible and in the 1611 King James Version. This month, I read the additions to the Biblical book of Daniel, which are valuable stories even if they are not part of Scripture:
    • The Song of the Three — Contains the supposed prayer of Abednego in the furnace, as well as a psalm of praise sung by the three when they were delivered.
    • Susanna — Daniel’s wisdom rescues a “very beautiful and devout woman” named Susanna from her lustful, false accusers. This story is chapter 13 of Daniel in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.
    • Bel and the Dragon — Daniel shows the king that it is the priests of the Babylonian god Bel, not Bel himself, who dine on offerings placed before Bel’s idol. This story is added as chapter 14 of Daniel.

Grace and Peace

P.S. There is an edition of The English Standard Version (ESV) with Apocrypha. In this edition, the Apocrypha is after Revelation, rather than between the two Testaments where it is usually inserted. I have never seen a New International Version  (NIV) Bible with the Apocrypha. I’ve been reading the New English Bible with Apocrypha, which I picked up at a book fair for really cheap.

Reading — July 2009

I didn’t get as much reading done in July as I would have liked, but here’s the one book I did finish:

  • The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller. The chapters address:
    • The idea that there cannot be only one true religion
    • The problem of evil — how can a good God allow suffering?
    • The proposition that Christianity makes one narrow and restricts one’s freedom
    • The accusation that Christianity is the source of many injustices
    • Hell
    • Science and Christianity (I have a quote from the author here)
    • The historical reliability of the Bible
    • The clues of God
    • Moral obligation
    • Sin and its consequences
    • Grace
    • The cross
    • The resurrection
    • The Trinity

I highly recommend this book for skeptics and doubters, as well as for Christians who want to add some tools to their apologetics toolbox.

Here are some additional books I worked on in July:

  • The History of the Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer. I’ve been plugging away at this for several months now.
  • Beyond Creation Science, by Timothy Martin and Jeffery Vaughn. This book is as much an argument for strong full preterism (the idea that Jesus already came back in 70 AD) as it is for old-Earth creationism. The authors do seem to be making a good case that the Bible doesn’t teach a young Earth or global flood, with some insights I hadn’t seen before. So far, this book is strengthening both my old-Earth creationism and my Premillenialism. So I guess the authors are being half successful.

Grace and Peace

Reading — June 2009

“When my sons complain that a good book is hard to read, I say, ‘Raking is easy, but all you get is leaves; digging is hard, but you might find diamonds.'” — John Piper, Future Grace, p. 16.

Books I finished in June:

  • Thousands… Not Billions, by Donald DeYoung. This is the latest on radiometric dating from the young-Earth creationists. I’ll say something positive: they have actually come a long ways from twenty years ago. They now acknowledge that we can have a pretty good idea of initial concentrations of isotopes in minerals, that we can often tell whether or not the minerals have been closed systems, that various radiometric methods often give concordant dates, and that a considerable amount of decay has occurred in minerals. But there are still a number of problems with their reasoning, the chief of which is the idea of accelerated nuclear decay during Noah’s flood. Their evidence that this has occurred is sometimes based on circular reasoning, and this decay would have created enough heat to melt and perhaps vaporize the entire Earth.
  • Elements of Petroleum Geology, by Richard Selley. I re-read this to be better prepared for a four-hour essay test I took as part of the application process for a potential job. Plus I find sedimentary geology to be simply fascinating.

Here are some additional books I worked on in June:

  • The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller. This book is fantastic. If I had a job, I’d buy a stack and give copies to doubters and skeptics.
  • The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel. We’re slowly going through this book as a family. Right now we are in the chapter on New Testament manuscripts.
  • The History of the Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer. This is strengthening my knowledge of the cultural and historical background of the Old Testament.
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, fiction by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn.

Grace and Peace

Reading — May 2009

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.” — Erasmus (Roman Catholic theologian of the Reformation era).

Books I finished in May:

  • A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, by David Snoke. The best chapter in the book was the one on animal death before the fall. Overall, I would give the book four stars out of five. Snoke is a physicist, and his statements regarding geology (which was not central to the book) could have used some refining.
  • Ringworld, science fiction novel by Larry Niven.

Here are some additional books I worked on in May:

  • Physical and Chemical Hydrogeology, by Domenico and Schwartz, and Elements of Petroleum Geology by Selley. Just for fun. Plus I’m looking for a job, and this stuff is fascinating.
  • ESV Study Bible. I don’t ordinarily list my Bible reading in my monthly reading update, but I got this Bible with my birthday money. This is certainly the best study Bible on the market, and perhaps the heftiest as well. It has 2752 pages, contains over two million words (Bible text, 20,000 notes, 50 articles), and weighs 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg). I have been thoroughly blessed through the insights of the notes (I am currently reading in Isaiah, Mark, and 2 Corinthians).
  • The History of the Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer. This is strengthening my knowledge of the cultural and historical background of the Old Testament.

Grace and Peace

Thanks to Matt for the Erasmus quote.

Reading — April 2009

I only finished one book in April:

  • Three Views on Creation and Evolution, edited by philosophers J.P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds, with contributions by eight other authors. The three Christian viewpoints presented are young-Earth creationism, old-Earth creationism (or progressive creationism), and theistic evolution (or the fully-gifted creation). The contributors are mostly philosophers and theologians, but they had many valuable things to say. I’m hoping to write more on this book soon.

Here are some additional books I worked on in April:

  • Genesis, by Derek Kidner. From the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series.
  • Life’s solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe, by Christian paleontologist Simon Conway Morris. I’ve been working on this for over a month now; it is not fast reading.
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey.
  • Ringworld, a science fiction novel by Larry Niven.

Grace and Peace