Interesting Reading List

Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox Issue #314, an e-mail publication, contained a link to a reading list recently discussed on his podcast. It includes some great titles. It is a reminder to stay knowledgeable of the world around us so we can be articulate in our conversations.

I was especially pleased to see "Freakonomics" listed. This is a great read. I should say “listen” as I heard the book on tape.

As an industrial engineer, I have a special affinity for the man that the book follows. He uses statistical techniques to study things considered by some to be off-limits.

I have used Six Sigma often professionally. This is an application of many of the same statistical techniques, like regression and chi-squared, to industrial and business problems.

Especially interesting to me is the chapter on “Superman vs. the Klu Klux Klan.” I would have never credited a fictional hero with the demise of a terrible evil, but there is a case presented for just that.


Steve Newell said...

What I find interesting about Pastor Warren's list is that there no books about serious theology or doctrine. I am not quite sure what "Freakonomics" is doing on this list?

Many of the "Christians" books about about the social impact of Christianity or about the Christian, but where is book about Christ?

J. K. Jones said...

Mr. Newell,

Thanks for a thoughtful comment! Please indulge a detailed reply.

My understanding was that this was a list of items to include in a reading schedule in addition to works that are more conducive to devotion and theology. The best book for theological purposes is The Bible, and I think that book is the most often ignored book on many shelves / desks.

Warren’s best book is Bible Study Methods (http://www.amazon.com/Rick-Warrens-Bible-Study-Methods/dp/03102730050). In fact, Bible Study Methods is the only book he has written that was truly helpful to me in my walk with Christ. (Not that I agree with all of it.)

Beyond that, I think it is important to understand the culture I am trying to reach with the gospel. I mean this in a common sense way, not some postmodern / emergent / seeker-sensitive sense. It is difficult to communicate with a person whose concerns I do not understand. I can’t determine which part of God’s Unchanging Word even applies to the situation if I do not understand the situation.

I think “Freakonomics” is a great read for this purpose. It gives insight into a current method for decision making, and, if read carefully, shows the limits of that method. The authors make it obvious that while statistical models have great usefulness, many questions, like those of morality, cannot be answered by statistics. The last few paragraphs in the section on abortion bring this out. It also gives insight into some specific cultural situations into which we must bring the truths of God’s Word.

Not that I’m a particularly great example to follow(!), but I have at this moment on my reading list: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, Christian Apologetics by Cornelius Van Til, The Truth War by John MacArthur, and Holiness by J. C. Ryle. Maybe those guys can be used of God to straighten me out.

I also have The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and an English translation of the Qur’an wiht commentary. These last two are important to help me understand others’ thoughts.

I have finished, in the last three-four months: Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll, Confessions of a Reformission Rev. by Mark Driscoll, Why I am A Christian by Cornelius Van Til, Becoming Conversant with the Emergent Church by D. A Carson, God is the Gospel by John Piper, a re-read of Classical Apologetics by Sproul et. al., and a re-read of Getting the Gospel Right by R. C. Sproul.

I also just finished Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell and a re-read of Ancient-Future Faith by Robert Webber as my “token heretics.”

I look up many, if not all, of the Bible references in the religious books I read. I always read the entire context within the ESV paragraph. It puts things in perspective.

My wife thinks I would pay more interest to her if she had a binder, and she has purchased for me a t-shirt with the quote “When I have a little money I buy books; if there is any left, I buy food and clothes.” Please pray for her, and for me to look up from the book every once and a while!

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