Literature Review: Reinke, DeWitt, Thoennes, Hiestand & Thomas, Wittmer

Literature Review: Reinke, DeWitt, Thoennes, Hiestand & Thomas, Wittmer March 13, 2012

It’s time for a good ole’ fashioned literature roundup.  Here are several books I’ve gotten recently that I think are worth my, and perhaps your, attention, if I may be so bold as to suggest possible entertainers of your attention.  All of these books will build your faith and confidence in our great God.

Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke.  Crossway, 2011.  This slim, readable and fun book is a paean to reading.  It approaches the subject from a distinctly evangelical perspective and offers such helpful material as how to read a book and how to work through a chunk of literature over time.  Tony, a writer with Desiring God, makes clear throughout the text that he has read widely and deeply, a skill that is perhaps more important than any other in becoming a thinking person and a thinking Christian.  It is not simplistic to say that the only barrier to learning is a lack of discipline.  Pick up books, and especially good books of many kinds, and you cannot help but grow, especially if you engage that literature from a Chrisocentric, biblically-saturated point of view.

Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything by Steve DeWitt.  Credo House, 2012.  Do you ever wonder as you drive on long trips what the churches are like in the areas you pass?  Well, I do, which perhaps shows my oddness.  Steve DeWitt is the pastor of Bethel Church of Indiana, a place I drove past dozens of times during my studies at TEDS in Chicago.  Steve, as I have happily discovered, is a gifted pastor and an engaging writer.  His text is a series of meditations on divine beauty.  It reminded me of the work of Jonathan Edwards.  Here’s what I said in my endorsement: “With a gentle tone and many real-life illustrations, the text is an elegant for laypeople and pastors who want to learn more about beauty–and specifically God’s beauty–and who desire for their study to impact their everyday lives.”  Great book for a Bible study.

Life’s Biggest Questions: What the Bible Says About the Things That Matter Most by Erik Thoennes.  Crossway, 2011.  Erik Thoennes is theologian at Biola/Talbot in California and a pastor.  I like even his subtitle, because there are things that matter most, and they are biblical and theological ideas that do nothing but shape our very lives.  Thoennes’s first book is essentially a mini-systematic theology.  Many of us have been looking for material like this from Thoennes, as we found his notes in the ESV Study Bible so clear and helpful.  This book is just like those notes: rich, deep, and yet accessible.  Pick it up if you want to develop your understanding of theology but don’t yet have the confidence or muscle mass to read Grudem, Berkhof, or Calvin.

Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach by Gerald Hiestand and Jay Thomas.  Crossway, 2012.  Gerald and Jay are my colleagues in the Society for the Advancement of Ecclesial Theology and are terrific guys.  They are also gifted pastor-theologians, Gerald at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, IL and Jay at Chapel Hill Bible Church in North Carolina.  Their book is a new look at some of the toughest questions faced by many young believers: what is sex for?  How do I handle my drive and urges?  What is the best path to marriage?  They advocate, for example, “dating friendships,” which looks pretty similar to what I argued for a long time ago in the form of “dateship.”  This is a helpful and enjoyable book, and it will steer Christians in a faithful direction amidst a sex-crazed world.  Cool cover, by the way.

The Last Enemy by Mike Wittmer.  Discovery House, 2012.  The evangelical movement is blessed at present with many strong theologians who are also clear and witty communicators.  Mike is one of this group.  He writes in a straightforward, honest way in this book, reminding his readers that 1) they will surely die and 2) that this need not drive them to despair.  He challenges us not to romanticize death, but also to remember that our hope is in Christ and the resurrection of our bodies.  This text is aimed at believers, but it’s so clear on the gospel that I think it could be a good evangelistic gift.  Buy several copies, and give them out to friends and neighbors who are terrified of death and in desperate need of life, true life.


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