While on the trip (mostly while in the air both ways), I began a few more books. This time, however, I plan on finishing them all. Here's what I'm currently reading (along with "The Shack"):
Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, by Andy Crouch. I'm reading this book as part of a book club that I've joined on Facebook (L2 Denver Church Book Club). I've read through four chapters and it is a very good book so far. As you can tell from the title, it is a book that deals with our role in the world as Christians. We have been created as "cultural" beings (it is in our nature as human beings to "create culture") and we, as image bearers, have been given a cultural mandate (Gen. 1 & 2). In fact, it can be said that our purpose on earth is to create culture. Bruce Hegeman, in his book "Plowing in Hope", says that there is "a biblical vision for culture-making" and that "culture has a central place in God's overall purpose for the human race." Hegeman goes on to say, "Culturative history is God's unfolding purpose for man, in which mankind plays a chief role in the development and transformation of the earth from garden-paradise to the glorious city of God." I've read a couple of "culture" books already (see below), so I'm interested to read this book. As I said, so far the book is good (and rather detailed). I'll probably post some comments as I get further into it.
I'm also re-reading "Plowing in Hope: Toward a Biblical Theology of Culture", by David Bruce Hegeman, and "The Calvinistic Concept of Culture", by Henry Van Til. Both of these books are excellent and I highly recommend them. I especially liked the Hegeman book because it is very short, easy to read and to the point. This is one of my favorite books on the Christian's calling in the world. It seems like I'm highlighting and making notes on every page. If you have a significant amount of time, the Van Til book (a very excellent book) is a comprehensive look at culture that pretty much leaves no stone unturned. I'm interested in comparing this one with the Crouch book. I'll be posting some quotes from both of these books as I continue to re-read them.
"Don't Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough", by Michael E. Wittmer. Having just recently finished his excellent book, "Heaven Is A Place On Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters To God", I had to read his latest. In case I haven't mentioned it before, the "Heaven" book is one of my all-time favorites (I'll have to make a list some-time of all my "favorites") and I'll probably re-read it several times in the next few years. The "Don't Stop" book tackles the Emerging Church and Fundamentalist movements and shows us that doctrine really does matter and that it should lead to authentic Christian living. Far too often in our day, doctrine and the life of "love" are pitted against each other, as if we must choose between the two. So far this book is living up to my expectations (though I'm not yet even half way through).
And now a book that may end up on my list of all-time favorites: "Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life", by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick. I am loving this book! I saw it referenced on The Vossed World a while back and finally made a book run and got it. Like Wittmer's "Heaven is a Place on Earth", I don't want this book to end. I've just finshed the fifth chapter and I've highlighted and made notes (mostly positive) on practically every page. The author reminds us that it is the Spirit working through the Gospel (and only the Gospel) that enlivens us to live out the reality of who we are as Christians, as Children of God. Contemporary Christianity tends to exile the Gospel to the "Four Spiritual Laws" and once we "come to Christ" the Gospel has served its purpose. Now, having believed the Gospel, we can begin to concentrate on our "santification". The Gospel brings us to Christ, now we work on our relationship with God through our obedience to His laws. When we think this way (which will manifest itself in how we deal with the failures of our daily lives) we fail to recognize that the Gospel is our life, or more precisely, Christ is our life; and the Gospel is not only the means of our salvation, but also our santification. The Gospel declares who God is (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and what is His purpose, who we are in Christ and the fulness of His redemption, and continues to direct our living precisely because it continues to direct our thinking! The Gospel isn't only for the unbeliever. The Gospel doesn't lose its importance after we've "come to Christ" but becomes even more significant as the Spirit uses it to guide and direct us as Children of God. Fitzpatrick recognizes this and writes with clarity and force as she reminds us of the richness and power of the Gospel. I'm almost halfway through and I highly recommend this little book.
Well, now that I'm back in freezing Denver from freezing Florida, I hope to get back to "How Are We To Live" in the next week (as well as catching up on my blog reading).