Books

Resources for Reading on the Reformation

This fall during the month of October and early November, I will be preaching a series on the “5 Solas of the Reformation.” As some of you may know, October 31 will be the 500-year anniversary of when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. These 95 Theses were a protest against the corruption of the Gospel and the selling of indulgences that was being propagated by the Roman Catholic Church.

As I have begun my own study in preparation for this preaching series, I wanted to direct you to some resources that you might find helpful if you are looking to educate yourself further on the significance of the Reformation.

Resources on Martin Luther

  • Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Ronald H. Bainton. For many years this has been the “go-to” book for a biography of Martin Luther. I have read the book at least 5x in my life and have always gleaned more appreciation for this Augustinian monk who God used to turn the church inside-out. If there is only one book to read about Luther or the Reformation, it is this one.
  • The Legacy of Luther edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen J. Nichols. While I have not read this book, I have seen it recommended over and over again by many people I respect and trust. Of all the books I will be reading to prepare to preach this series, I am looking forward to this one the most.
  • The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther by Steven J. Lawson. I have not read this book yet, but the other biographies I have read from Lawson (e.g., William Tyndale and John Calvin) were very stirring. I expect this one to be as good, if not better than the others.
  • Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha. The focus of this resource is on the union of Martin and Katharina. You will laugh, cry, and scratch your head at these two opposites that God brought together.

Theology

  • Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. I purchased this book for a class in college that I took on the Reformation era. In it, you will find quick bios of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and Menno Simons. You will also get a good overview of their doctrinal emphasis and the need for theological reform during the 16th century.

5 Solas

  • The Five Solas Series pack, edited by Thomas Schreiner. There are 5 books in this series, 1 for each sola: Christ Alone by Stephen Wellum, Faith Alone by Thomas Schreiner, God’s Glory Alone by David VanDrunen, God’s Word Alone by Matthew Barrett, and Grace Alone by Carl Trueman.
  • Why We Are Protestant: An Introduction to the Five Solas of the Reformation by Nate Pickowicz. I know the young man who designed this cover and he said, “Buy this book.” So, I did! Haven’t read it just yet!
  • The Courage to Be Protestant: Reformation Faith in Today’s World by David F. Wells. Looking forward to reading again from one of the most important thinkers of our day.
  • Echoes of the Reformation. This is a DVD set (6 lessons) hosted by Trevin Wax, as he interviews both Kevin DeYoung and R. Albert Mohler Jr. This resource is mostly helpful for those looking for help on the implications of the Reformation and the 5 solas and why they still matter today. There is a study guide edited by Brandon D. Smith that accompanies this DVD set.

 

Book Blurbs: July 2017

#1 – The Printer and the Preacher: Ben Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Surprising Friendship That Invented America by Randy Petersen (published by Nelson Books, 2015). Not many know of or forget that Franklin and Whitefield were contemporaries of one another and good friends. This book, while not the most engaging of an historical book, is helpful in sketching the culture in America that helped shape two of the most significant thinkers in our nation’s past. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

#2 – Promises Made: The Message of the Old Testament by Mark Dever (published by Crossway Books, 2006). What Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology accomplishes as a doctrinal resource, this book by Dever does the same for O.T. book backgrounds resources. What I mean is that you get great information in each chapter and encouraging devotional material. Dever paints pictures of each O.T. book, and makes them practical, with each chapter ending with about 10 discussion questions. It would be a great resource for your personal library, or a Sunday school class or small group wanting to pursue a survey of the O.T., or as a preaching reference. I can’t wait to read the companion book surveying the books of the N.T. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

Book Review Blurb: The Message of the Old Testament

Image result for the message of the old testament deverBook Review Score – 10 out of 10

As I have been preparing to teach a Old Testament survey class for Sunday School (sometime in the future), I have discovered a rich resource you need to consider purchasing and reading.

There are many good Old Testament surveys and Old Testament introduction resources available: Gleason Archer’s A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Walter Kaiser’s Toward an Exegetical Theology, R.K. Harrison’s An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books, Andrew Hill and John Walton’s A Survey of the Old Testament – to name a few.

Another textbook I would highly recommend is Mark Dever’s The Message of the Old Testament. This book is a collection of sermons he preached 15-20 years ago, when he took up a single Old Testament book in a single sermon. The book is subtitled “Promises Made,” and he has a New Testament equivalent also available subtitled “Promises Kept.”

While you won’t find much writing regarding technical issues or background material of the Old Testament books, Dever’s strength is the devotional style of each chapter. One of Dever’s goals certainly seems to be is to encourage and inspire worship of God as you read each chapter. Every chapter ends with a prayer and discussion questions.

Dever is consistent in re-telling each Old Testament book’s story, discussing the main theme(s) of that book, informing you o the book’s place in Old Testament chronology, and inspiring a deeper affection and appreciation for the Old Testament.

This book would be a great resource for any Christian starting to build his library and looking or Old Testament helps.

 

Book Blurbs: June 2017

Here are some books I had the privilege of reading this past month and some brief thoughts about each one.

#1 – The Printer and the Preacher: Ben Franklin, George Whitefield, and the Surprising Friendship That Invented America by Randy Petersen (published by Nelson Books, 2015). Not many know of or forget that Franklin and Whitefield were contemporaries of one another and good friends. This book, while not the most engaging of an historical book, is helpful in sketching the culture in America that helped shape two of the most significant thinkers in our nation’s past. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

#2 – Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha (published by Baker Books, 2017). This history books tells the story of the relationship between Martin and Katharina. In it, you will enjoy reading about their sense of humor, their simple approach to marriage, and their philosophy in child-rearing. Not too many Luther biographies go into detail about his marriage to Katharina, as this one does. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

Book Blurbs: May 2017

Here are some books I had the privilege of reading this past month and some brief thoughts about each one.

#1 – Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of I Timothy 2:9-15 edited by Andreas J. Kostenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner (published by Baker Academic, 1995). If you want a seriously in-depth exegetical digest of I Timothy 2:9-15, buy this book and none other. In it contains both lexical and syntactical notes. The average laymen will find this book a “little over their head” but the scholar will enjoy the riches of the critical commentary that it is. BOOK RATING: 9 out of 10 stars.

#2 – The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World by Melissa A. Kruger (published by Christian Focus, 2012). It is refreshing to read practical books that attack specific heart issues. The sin of coveting is one of the Ten Commandments and it shows a displeasure against a Sovereign God. Kruger’s book is biblically sound and each chapter ends with 10-15 study questions, so the book could easily be used for a small group or women’s Bible study. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#3 – On Preaching: Personal & Pastoral Insights for the Preparation & Practice of Preaching by H.B. Charles, Jr. (published by Moody Publishers, 2014). While I believe his other book – On Pastoring – is much better, you won’t regret buying and reading this book on preaching. It is a condensed version of a class on expository preaching. His wit and wisdom will keep you reading one chapter after the other. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#4 – Zeal without Burnout: Seven Keys to a Lifelong Ministry of Sustainable Sacrifice by Christopher Ash (published by The Good Book Company, 2016). Sleep, time off, friendships, renewal, encouragement, warnings and joy. These subjects help protect pastors from burnout. This brief book (123 pages) is written from a pastor who experienced burnout a number of times and has wisdom to dispense about how God helped restore his spiritual health. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

#5 – The Pastor’s Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry by R. Kent Hughes and Douglas Sean O’Donnell (published by Crossway Books, 2015). I wish this was a book I received when I graduated seminary. It is a modern version of Charles Bridges’ book The Christian Ministry. In this book, you will find practical help on leading and planning a worship service, weddings, funerals, praying publicly, music, baptism, communion, counseling, and hospital visitation. One of the gems of this book is that half of it seems like actual transcripts of orders of service (e.g., weddings, funerals, communion and baptism services) from Presbyterian, Anglican, Lutheran and Baptist denominations. The only criticism I have is regarding the chapter on pastoral counseling where it’s author (not Hughes) presents integrationist ideas when it comes to helping people. BOOK RATING: 10 out of 10 stars.

REPRISE: One Way to Get Free Books

A few years ago, I was reading a friend’s blog that informed me of a way to get free books. Some of you may know this already, but many Christian publishers will give you a free book in exchange for a review of that book on your blog (or other website if you have one), their website and then a book purchasing website (e.g., Amazon, CBD, etc.).

You can subscribe or join as many “publisher reviewer clubs” as you like and receive all the books you can handle. Each publishers has a different set of rules for their free books (e.g., deadline to read the book, number of followers on your blog or website), but generally speaking if you get a book, you read it and review it; and then you can get another book.

Did I mention you choose the books as well? You don’t have to read and review whatever they want to send you. You get to choose the book. About 75% of the time, the books I have received have been great resources I plan on using in the future. So it is a good way to build your library.

Below, I will hyperlink to each Christian publisher I use if you are interested in joining the reviewers-for-free-books-club.

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