As we approach the holiday season many of us have extra time to kick back and relax. It’s a good opportunity to do some reading. Here are a few recommendations that I have recently found useful.
1. God’s Battle Plan for the Mind by David Saxton: This is an excellent book on the subject of Biblical meditation. As one would expect from Reformation Heritage, the writer draws heavily from Puritan sources. The differences between occasional and deliberate meditation are helpfully explained. Practical instruction is given such as – the best time; the best place; how to start; questioning, considering, self-examination, application and prayer. The benefits and challenges to meditation are outlined. David Saxton has done a good job distilling from those long Puritan writings pithy quotes for our learning and encouragement.
2. Surprised by Paradox by Jen Pollock Michel: In this book the author explores the ways in which the Christian life is so often paradoxical. For example, we are saved by grace and kept by grace, yet we must strive to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is not one or the other but both together creating a kind of paradox. The same principle is applied in different ways doctrinally, experientially and practically. This topic is important because we must learn to live within the tensions or paradoxes which make life what it is. We like everything to be black and white, but in reality there are vast shades of grey where the two meet in the middle. It seems to me that many in the church fail to see this and as a consequence become confused or disillusioned and even fall away.
3. And So I Began To Read by Faith Cook: I enjoy books about books. In this memoir Faith Cook recalls her journey into Christian literature. She draws attention to particular volumes which have helped her in various ways at different times. I appreciated her honesty in describing some of the personal troubles she has been through and the way in which the Lord used books to help her. She also described the difficulties she had trying to read due to scarcity of time, distractions and discouragement which are challenges we can all relate to. The test of a book about books is whether it motivates you to read or not. Faith Cook whetted my appetite.
4. Reforming Apologetics by J.V. Fesko: In this volume the author challenges the ‘presuppositional’ method of apologetics which is popular among Reformed Christians. His point of contention is that the ‘book of creation’ and ‘common notions’ (i.e. a sense of morality, conscience, etc.) have been jettisoned in defending the faith. While he affirms the place of scripture he argues that these two other points also have a role to play. Fesko makes his case from the Bible and the historic Reformed tradition of Calvin and the Westminster Divines; he cites Thomas Aquinas and scholastic thinking as well. This he refers to as the classic Reformed approach to apologetics which was also championed by R.C. Sproul. It is a subject which provides a great deal of discussion and debate. For those who like to chew on theological meat, this book is worth reading.