6 Nov 2006

Reading – Christmas Suggestions

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Books, Christmas, Ministry

Reading: Christmas Suggestions

Well its that time of year again. Where has 2006 gone?? The sages from Kansas and Steve Miller are surely on to something when they opine we are all just dust in the wind that keeps slippin’ into the future! Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye and some out there are scratching their head as to what to buy their minister, elder or friend as a present. Books! That is if the minister or elder likes to read … and if they do not perhaps they are in the wrong calling. Here are my recommendations.

1) Jack Reese, The Body Broken: Embracing the Peace of Christ in a Fragmented Church (Leafwood Press, 2006). Reese has gifted the church with this book. This year, 2006, has not flowered into a year of healing the shame of division or the removal of blight from the Bride. However this book can provide some necessary nutrition for the health of the Body. I believe every preacher and every elder should read this book. It is elegant. It is showered with grace and love for all. It is in fact spiritual reading. I urge you to read this book.

2) John Mark Hicks & Bobby Valentine, Kingdom Come: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of David Lipscomb and James Harding (Leafwood, 2006). I am partial to this book. Far from perfect yet I believe this book can help Christians among the Stone-Campbell heritage move to a kingdom perspective. The book is not written for scholars but there are even surprises for them as well. In this book we learn that WE have a heritage with a robust theology of the Holy Spirit, a rejection of any deistic understanding of God, a passion for caring for the disinherited, relishing the presence of God in worship, prayer and Bible reading. We also learn that our heritage can rattle our cages in our easy accommodation to American nationalism and even demands for freedom of thought.

3) N. T. Wright, Simply Christian (HarperSanFrancisco, 2006). This is the book of the year and possibly the book of the century to date. Certainly the title should resonate with any in a restoration heritage. Yet Wright goes about making a refreshing statement of not only what Christianity is but what it means to live that faith in our contemporary world.

4) Terence Fretheim, God and the World in the Old Testament (Abingdon 2005). One of the consistent challenges of biblical Christianity in our American setting is the not so subtle forms of neo-Gnosticism that runs rampant in our “spiritualities” and other doctrine. This will probably be (sadly) one of the least read books on this list. Not because it is necessarily a difficult read (it is not!) but because it has a hundred pages of notes. But if I had the ability to make preachers read a book I would force them to read this one. What “good” is creation? Does God love creation? Not just humans but creation? How important is it in Scripture? Fretheim has shown that it is at the heart of biblical faith. I love this book. It is scholarly. It is rich. It is spiritually healthy.

5) William H. Willimon, Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry (Abingdon 2002). Willimon is a preacher’s preacher. He has lived and breathed “pastoring” for longer than I have been alive. This book will speak to your heart and your mind.

6) James K. A. Smith, Whose Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (Baker Academic 2006). This could be the best book on “postmodernism” written … it is without a doubt the best I have read. Smith asks serious questions of the church and how she (you and I) can function in the new emerging worldview. Great book.

7) N. T. Wright, Judas and the Gospel of Jesus (Baker, 2006). This is the latest from the pen of the Bishop of Durham. This is a Gnostic buster! About the same size and design as the National Geographic’s publication edited by Meyer, Erhman and company. This is an easy to read work (assumes the reader knows nothing) and is a handy book to share with anyone interested in the sensationalism around the Gospel of Judas.

To Consider:

8) Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Eerdmans, 2005). I read this book as I was working on Kingdom Come and it richly blessed me. Peterson takes the reader through a spiritual reading of Deuteronomy, Luke/Acts, Exodus and has some marvelous reflections on Baptism and love.

9) Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (Image, many editions). Let the Spirit wash over you through this work.

10) Jim Wallis, God’s Politics (Harper 2005). This is certainly a book that you will have a conversation with. Wallis takes on both the Republicans and the Democrats in this book which may make him unpopular with both. But he takes his faith seriously and seeks to integrate it into a truly biblical public theology. You may not agree with some … and some may not agree with a lot … of this book but I do not think you can read a better book to hear a counter point of view that is God saturated. You will be blessed.

This is a short list I know. However these are some books that in my view are a cut above.

Merry Christmas,
Bobby Valentine

17 Responses to “Reading – Christmas Suggestions”

  1. Mike Exum Says:

    Thanks for the tip. I agree on the Wright promotion. I still need to read Kingdom Come. I sold it to our preacher, and he loves it.

    I especially appreciate the tip on Fretheim. I am looking to build some OT resources into my library. I need to study OT a lot more than I did in school. Wright has shown me the importance of it.

    Can I plug a good bookstore? Call me at Biblemart.com at 1-800-221-9065. Ask for Michael. We give discounts!

    Many blessings…

  2. preacherman Says:

    Mike is right.
    Biblemart gives good discounts on especially on what COC call brotherhood books! 🙂

    Bobby, may I also suggest any book by Gary Holloway. Gary is a great writter. Very applicable.

  3. Darin L. Hamm Says:

    Thanks Bobby for the list.

  4. cwinwc Says:

    #2 sounds good. Have you read Yancy’s book on “Prayer?”

  5. Stoogelover Says:

    Thanks for some good reading suggestions.

  6. Velcro Says:

    Dude, #10 is my favorite… I’ve got the book on cd.

    I didn’t know you liked reading, Bobby. Hmmm… where have I been? Just kidding! Haha.

  7. Jim Martin Says:

    Thanks Bobby– very good list!

  8. JD Says:

    Hi Bobby…good list. Will you be my Santa? LOL

    I am getting ready to post a new chapter review of Kingdom Come. I apologize for the delay. I am enjoying your book so much.

    Yesterday John Eldedridge’s new book arrived at my house and I’m looking forward to reading that. I also have taken a peek into John Alan Turner’s Hearts and Minds … and it looks like a winner.

  9. Wade Tannehill Says:


    The book by Reese and the one by Hicks and that other guy are on my shelf on the must-read list. I’ll order “Simply Christian” within the week.

    I like your comment about preachers or elders who don’t read being in the wrong calling. I once met a preacher who admitted to me that he never read anything outside the Bible or the newspaper because he didn’t want the thoughts of others to unduly influence his Bible study. The more I thought about it the more I thought “What a lazy bum.”

    So tell us Bobby, perhaps in a future post, why should preachers and elders read books outside the Bible? I would really like to hear a defense of this from one of the most avid readers I know. YOU.

  10. preacherman Says:

    I have to agree with JD. I just got John Allen Turners book “Hearts and Minds”. It is a page turner. A must read.

  11. Matt Says:

    That is a pretty good list. I am really wanting to read some NT Wright. I haven’t gotten around to that one yet.

    Willimon is a solid read almost every time. One book that really challenged me was Resident Aliens by Hauerwas and Willimon.

    Fretheim is also very solid. His book “The Suffering of God” is a good read.

    Hicks can write and I know this Valentine character can blog pretty well 🙂 so maybe I will try out Kingdom Come when my reading list gets cut back a bit.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  12. Kathy Says:

    Wow! Bobby! What a list and my poor income asks how in the world am I ever going to be able to incorporate these into my permanent reading library? No way, that’s how. 🙁

    I’m wondering if the library is going to have any of these on their shelves. Investigation will tell.

    Again, thanks for the list and I’ll be looking for copies I can either afford or borrow!

    Blessings to you!


  13. preacherman Says:

    I agree with Wade, that would be a great post! Love to see your thoughts on that topic.

  14. Matt Says:

    Two big reasons preachers and elders should read things outside of the Bible:

    1) Other people read such things and it is good to be familiar with what is influencing others so that things don’t seem foreign when they come up.

    2) For their own transformation. The Bible is certainly the most transformative book ever written. But it is certainly helpful to practice Prov 27:17 – as iron sharpens iron.

    By the way, the authors of the Bible read things other than the Bible and some of those things even had an influence on what they wrote. Paul cites several philosophers whose names I don’t have in front of me right now. It is also pretty plain that Peter and Jude had read Enoch. You can find truth in places outside the Bible.

  15. Laymond Says:

    Bobby great list, did appearing to be vain, prevent you from placing your book first? 🙂 what ever happened to last being first and first being last? thanks for the shopping ideas.

  16. Jason Says:

    Thanks for the reading list, Bobby. I’ve just finished Simply Christian…you’re right…so powerful, concise and spot on. A must read.

  17. Falantedios Says:

    Judas and the Gospel of Jesus is one of the best little books I’ve ever read. It is concise in its handling of Gnosticism, evenhanded in its analysis of the document itself, and CONVICTING in its comparisions between 2nd-3rd century Gnosticism and mainstream Western Christianity. More stellar work by NT Wright.

    in HIS love,

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