Besides The Bible

Besides The Bible is a book about books! It contains short reviews of 100 books that “have, should, or will create Christian culture.” Compiled by Dan Gibson, Jordan Green and John Pattison, it is a great effort at a list of 100 books that carry great influence on western evangelical Christianity. The authors have connections to the Burnside Writer’s Collective, which also gives this list a bit of a northwest-postmodern-emerging-hipster-christian feel.

It’s not a list of only Christian books. For evangelicals have lately defined themselves as much as for what they are against as what they are for. So books on atheism and evolution make the list, as they have been shapers of western evangelical culture – perhaps unintentionally!

I think one of the roles pastors have for their churches is that of being the designated reader. It is important for a pastor to be well read and to have deep understanding in order to better shepherd God’s people. If a pastor is well read, they are more able to recommend texts that will help people grow in specific areas. In  my copy I put all sorts of notations in the table of contents, for easy reference on subject matters and themes of the books.

Not everyone has an inclination to reading, and this is a great tool in that direction, so this book could help you read, without all that pesky reading. Also, it helps you sound smart at parties when you can carry on a conversation about The Shack, because who on earth is really going to read that anyways?

Here’s some notes of interest:

  • p. 5, on the Apocrypha, “…in 1534 Martin Luther was the first to place the intertestamental books into their own section between the Old and New Testaments, that he omitted two of those books (1 and 2 Esdras), or that he expressed doubt over the authenticity of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation.”
  • p.12, on Augustine’s City of God, “…if someone made a ‘READ AUGUSTINE’S CITY OF GOD & CONFESSIONS” T-shirt, I’d be the first in line to buy one. I’d wear it while standing next to a stack of joel Osteen books if I didn’t have a family to provide for.”
  • p.18, on Datne’s The Divine Comedy, “Everyone loves a 14,000-line epic poem from the 1300s, right? …Dante discovers at the end of a long journey that he’d confused the beauty of earthly Beatrice for the greater love of God.”
  • p.24, on The Little Flowers of St. Francis, “I think it was C.S. Lewis who said that every word will end up as a synonym for either ‘better’ or ‘worse.'”
  • p.27, on Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, “Or to paraphrase G.K. Chesterson…it’s not that Calvin has been read and found wanting, but that he has been found difficult and not read.”
  • p.43, on Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, “Kierkegaard (and Fear and Trembling specifically) is worth reading as he discussed why the absurdity of faith is actually a good thing.”
  • p.156, on Coupland’s Life After God, “The final two pages of Life After God were hymns to my early-twenties ears, and the passage remains one of the most wonderful pieces of literature on faith I’ve ever read…”
  • p.180, on McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian, “What made the book stand out in a Christian publishing world filled with absolutes, rules for living, and five steps to a better prayer life, was ambiguity.”
  • p.186, on Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, “And I’ve always thought Jesus hung out with widows and tax collectors because he was showing us this is something we’re supposed to do. but Christopher Moore has challenged me on this. He’s made me think maybe Jesus hung out with these people not simply because it was a charitable thing to do, but maybe because he enjoyed their company. Maybe he spent so much time with them because they were a lot more fun.”
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One thought on “Besides The Bible

  1. I loved “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff”! (Okay, I loved KIerkagaard’s “Fear and Trembling” too… but for different reasons)

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