A few weeks ago, during my last week of vacation, I finished my summer reading list. The first book I finished I’d been working on for a year. This wasn’t because it was a bad, boring book, but rather because it was a devotional. The book I’m referring to is We Make the Road by Walking: A Year Long Quest for spiritual formation, reorientation and activation, Brian D. McLaren, (Jericho Books, New York, 2014). Though the book can be used for personal devotions, it is really meant to be used by small groups.
Divided into fifty-two chapters, We Make the Road is orientated toward the church year. Themes that are addressed by the book are seasonally appropriate. Throughout this past year the book has given me insights, invited me to view things from different perspectives and challenged me to action. I have never been as deeply touch by a book of devotions as I was by We Make a Road. This book is so filled with God’s good news that I plan on forming a small group in my congregation of individuals who will commit to meeting every week for one year and discuss each chapter of the book. I think this will be life changing for everyone in the group and also for the congregation.
We Make the Road is meant for walking—not sprinting. Part of its power is that of time—the Holy Spirit molding and shaping lives over a long period of time. For those people who are willing to walk, open their minds to new ideas, and their hearts to new visions and discuss those ideas and visions with others will find it time well spent.
A Historical Survey
The next book I’d like to suggest to you is Jesus as a Figure in History, Mark Allan Powell (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1995). It is true that this book is not hot off the press, but it still offers many useful thoughts and ideas.
There has been a resurgence in the study of Jesus as a historical figure. Scores of books have been written on the subject of Jesus the man. These books have brought forth new facts, entertained new ideas and suggested viewing the historical Jesus from new perspectives. Powell, in his book, surveys this field of study. He identifies the main themes that have surfaced, points out some of their pro’s and con’s and discusses the conflicts that have emerged. Powell does this in such a way that he doesn’t lead the reader to what he believes is the correct conclusion. Instead, he helps the reader understand and empowers the reader to make informed decisions on who Jesus was.
I found this book especially helpful in my walk of faith. The book broadened my understanding of who the man named Jesus of Nazareth was, and helped me see how this new information might affect my theological views and my life as a follower of Jesus. I heartily recommend this book. It is not necessarily an easy read, but I believe you will find it well worth the effort. (On a side note, I purchased a used book for a few dollars on Amazon. There is a second edition that has expanded content and a steep price.)
The final book I read was a book of fiction entitled, Patmos: Three Days, Two Men, One Extraordinary Conversation, C Baxter Kruger, (Perichoresis Press, Jackson, MS, 2016).
This is a book of fiction like The Shack, by William P. Young is a work of fiction. Kruger delves into the Trinity, Jesus’ incarnation and the Nicene Creed. He does this in a creative way. Instead of writing a text book on these subjects, he tells the story of a student of theology who has a vision where he lived with the Apostle John on the island of Patmos for three days. Their conversation over that three day period is enlightening, not only for the theology student, but also for the reader.
I found this book fascinating. Kruger goes back to the early church and sweeps away some of the dust and dirt that has accumulated over the centuries. He helps the reader understand how the first Christians understood the inclusiveness of Jesus and his presence in their lives. Shedding new light on these old truths, enables modern day readers to apply the old to their lives today.
This book is a fun read, but it’s not just to pass the time. It will give you plenty of food for thought and motivate you to examine what you learned in Sunday school, your old assumptions and even what you might hear from the pulpit.