Christmas Books for 2014

I got several good books for Christmas. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read them! The next best thing is to skim the first chapter, or enough to get a sense of what they are about, and then file them away until a day I have more time—hopefully later in 2014. Here are the four books I got, and what interests me about each of them.

97803104992751) Four Views on the Historical Adam

This is the other Zondervan Counterpoints book that came out last month along with Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy. The contributors are:

  1. No Historical Adam: Evolutionary Creation View (Denis Lamoureux)
  2. A Historical Adam: Archetypal Creation View (John H. Walton)
  3. A Historical Adam: Old-Earth Creation View (C. John Collins)
  4. A Historical Adam: Young-Earth Creation View (William D. Barrick)
  5. Pastoral Reflections: Gregory A. Boyd and Philip G. Ryken

I already read the Introduction by Matthew Barrett and Ardel B. Caneday, which is outstanding—a very clear and helpful orientation to the whole issue. I’d like to keep refining my understanding of issues at the intersection of theology of science, like whether there was a historical Adam. Part of my interest is pastoral—I would like to help people who are struggling with doubts about these issues, which I think will be increasingly common in our cultural setting. In a postmodern setting, I think most pastors will need to be able to do basic apologetics. The other part of my interest is sheer curiosity: I really want to explore what is the best way is to hold together Scripture and science. At times the effort seems like trying to hold onto two different worlds as they slide apart, but I believe that ultimately Scripture and science are not at odds, when we hear what they are truly saying. I think this book will be helpful for understanding this issue better. I especially feel like I learn from these Counterpoints books because the contributors all interact with each other, so it forces the key areas of disagreement to come up front and center.

5217hr2) Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper

This is an older (2007) book of the same series I’ve been wanting for a while. Different understandings of the Lord’s Supper have been a huge cause for dissension throughout church history—most famously in the Reformation, but also at other times. For example, debate about the manner of Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Supper was perhaps the hottest theological issue in the church in the 9th century, 700 years before Luther and Zwingli would meet at Marburg and divide over the same point. Or think of Jonathan Edwards’ final dispute with his Northampton church, which involved the question of who the proper recipients of the Lord’s Supper are. Why are the sacraments so divisive? Why do they come up again and again? I’m interested in sharpening my views on this topic. I’m broadly in agreement with Calvin’s view, but have not tested it by weighing the counterarguments. This will be a fun one to return to one day. The contributors are:

  1. Baptist View (Christ Presence as Memorial): Russell D. Moore
  2. Reformed View (The Real Presence of Christ): I. John Hesselink
  3. Luther View (Finding the Right Word): David P. Scaer
  4. Roman Catholic View (Christ’s Real, True, and Substantial Presence): Thomas A. Baima

incarnation-anyway3) Edwin Chr. van Driel, Incarnation Anyway: Arguments for Supralapsarian Christology

When I was a teaching assistant at Fuller last Winter quarter I gave a lecture on the Person of Christ, and my topic led me to interact with this book a little bit. Ever since I’ve been wanting to read it. Its short, but seems to have had an impact in the field. Its also well-written, and addresses a fascinating topic: would the Son of God have become incarnate even if human beings had not sinned? Is the incarnation logically prior to fall and redemption? I think this book will bring up some interesting theological issues and provide alternative vantage points of understanding. I think it would be worth exploring it, even if in the end Aslan’s statement proves the best answer: “child, no one is ever allowed to know what would have happened.”

What-is-Marriage-Cover24) What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense

If there is any issue that is at the nerve center of polarizing trends in our culture, it seems to me to be gay marriage. This book by three Princeton academics is by all accounts one of most significant recent defenses of a traditional view of marriage. I’d like to engage with it in order to be better equipped as a pastor, and as a Christian, to speak on these issues. Its interesting that already from reading the introduction I am already picking up on what I regard as one of the strongest arguments for the traditional view, namely the question what is best for children? I’d like to give the whole book a thorough read.

Its probably good that I don’t have time to read as widely as I would like. There is something self-indulgent about being able to satisfy every curiosity, and anyway one new book always leads to three others, so its a never-ending task. “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). I am taking this as a direction from the Lord that He wants me to learn in other ways this year. There is a time for everything under the sun, and I think 2014 is going to be a year of living and doing more than than thinking. Lord, keep me on the path you have set before me.

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