The winter months give us a great opportunity to devote ourselves to some solid theological reading. After all, ministry must be based on biblical doctrine if we hope to present the will of God. Sermons that lack Christian doctrine will lack power and practical application. They may share good advice, but there will be no good news.
|Dr. James Montgomery Boice’s four volumes on Christian doctrine have been revised and combined into one large book, Foundations of the Christian Faith (IVP). The author writes from the point of view of a Calvinistic pastor who is concerned about practical Christian living. The chapters are not long, but they are rich and rewarding. Dr. Boice knows not only theology but also the moral and spiritual climate of our day, and he is not afraid to face the winds of doctrine that are blowing. No sooner will the alert pastor get into this book than he will start planning a series of doctrinal messages. Great!
|Christian Theology by Dr. Millard J. Erickson (Baker) is now in one volume, and it ought to be on your shelf. If you are familiar with the “classical theologians,” then Dr. Erickson’s approach will make you feel right at home. However, he does not simply repeat the formulations of the past, but rather builds on them to make them meaningful to believers today. Erickson proposes “mediating positions” that try to bring together the best of various schools. It is good to have a practical systematic 20th century theologian who is grappling with the same problems that we face in our ministries daily.
|If you don’t feel up to reading these large volumes, then try the new book by David F. Wells, The Person of Christ (Crossway). In 200 pages, Dr. Wells deals adequately with three aspects of Christology: the biblical foundations, the historical development and the modern interpretation. You need not agree with all of the author’s conclusions to benefit from reading the book, but do stretch your mind and consider what he writes.
|For those who enjoy theological debate at its best, we recommend Predestination and Free Will, edited by David and Randall Basinger (IVP). John Feinberg, Norman Geisler, Bruce Reichenbach and Clark Pinnock all present their views and then respond to each other’s views.
|A similar approach is taken by Gleason Archer, Paul Feinberg, Douglas Moo and Richard Reiter in The Rapture– Pre-, Mid- or Post- Tribulational (Zondervan “Academie” series). When four capable scholars tackle this issue-and each other-you are in for a delightful experience of learning and growing. You may not change your mind, but you will have a greater appreciation for those who hold other views. Great reading!
|I always welcome another study of the pressing problem of evil in this world, and The Enigma of Evil by John W. Wenham is one of the best. First published in 1974 by InterVarsity-under the title The Goodness of God, Zondervan has brought it out in their “Academie” series. Don’t plan to speed-read this one! It calls for careful meditative reading, with your Bible and note-book at hand. Every pastor ought to give at least one series of sermons on “why bad things happen to God’s people,” and this book may help you get started.
|Theology in Turmoil by Alan Sell (Baker) is a valuable contribution to the conservative-liberal debate. It helps the reader understand the real roots of the debate (younger pastors, take note) and what the “fruits” are in the church today. Liberalism is not dead, and the growing minister must keep ahead of the enemy. The bibliography found in the nearly 50 pages of notes is worth more than the price of the book. Add this to your “want” list.
|A. W. Tozer, Men Who Met God, a series of studies on seven Old Testament saints who had life-changing experiences with God. Few modern preachers could reveal the glory of God as did Tozer, and in these 12 messages he is at his best. Gerald B. Smith is the editor.
|Tozer, Set of the Sail, a collection of previously unpublished editorials from The Alliance Witness, selected by Harry Verploegh. If you have the previous six volumes of essays, you will want to complete your set. If you have never read Tozer-what are you waiting for? Thirty minutes spent in a Tozer essay is often better than a week at a Bible conference. Both books are published by Christian Publications.
|Moody Press has published J. Oswald Sanders’ classic book, Spiritual Leadership. I have been saying for years that a copy of this book ought to be given to each newly-ordained minister, and it wouldn’t hurt to give copies to a few of the older men as well! The author writes with both tenderness and toughness as he outlines the biblical principles that leaders must follow if they are to succeed to the glory of God.
|Planning to preach from Jeremiah? You will no doubt secure the basic conservative commentaries: R. K. Harrison in the “Tyndale” Old Testament (IVP); G. Campbell Morgan (Revell); J. A. Thompson in the popular New International series
|An excellent treatment from the more liberal point of view is Robert P. Carroll’s commentary in “The Old Testament Library” series published by Westminster. The author gives an especially good treatment of the images and metaphors used by Jeremiah–and there are plenty of them! A treasury for the discerning student.
|Zondervan’s New Testament Theology by Dr. Leon Morris, from whom we have come to expect the highest in both academics and spiritual emphasis. This is the ideal volume for the busy pastor who wants to review New Testament theology as well as get abreast of new developments. Put this book next to the volume by Donald Guthrie (IVP) and you have a perfect team
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