Wednesday, January 09, 2008

So What Are You Reading in January?

read Last month, I gave a bit of a report on some of the books I was reading at the time and my initial impression on them. I am planning on doing this monthly if, for no other reason, to keep me on track in keeping on top of the learning curve. I find that when I stop reading, I stop growing.

Presently, I am plugging through the following:

I am still reading Born for Battle which I mentioned last month. As I am only reading a chapter a day, it has taken a while, but it has sure been worth it. I will be done in about a week. We will be selling this book here at The Voice of the Martyrs once our supply comes in from OMF.

Over Christmas, I read God and Government by Charles Colson. This is an update and expansion of his earlier work, Kingdoms in Conflict. A very valuable read, especially in light of the ongoing primary elections in the U.S. I learned a lot, particularly in regards to the dangers of churches speaking to political issues. Most valuable was a quote from Rene de Visme Williamson:

In order to avoid the pitfalls of social activism, the church must deal with matters of principle where the principle is very clear….There are controversial issues in which the principle is unmistakable and the command of the hour comes through loud and clear. On these issues the church must make pronouncements....

But there are other general issues in which facts and motives are mixed, consequences contradict the principles involved and equally dedicated and knowledgeable Christians disagree. In these cases the church should remain silent, letting individual Christians and Christian groups decide for themselves what Christian witness means. . . . For the church to sponsor a political party, engage in lobbying, form coalitions with secular pressure groups and become entangled in the decisions of private business corporations, would be to take a position on precisely those issues in which the religious significance is unclear, ambiguous or non-existent.

While other books are probably more helpful in understanding the relation between the Christian and the State from a biblical basis, Colson does provide a fairly balanced view, especially in regards to the Christian’s individual involvement in politics. He encourages it, but within limits. In particular he points out that we ought not to vote for a candidate primarily on the basis of his commitment to Christ. As Luther said, “I would rather be ruled by a competent Turk (i.e. Muslim) than an incompetent Christian.”

I just started reading Tim Perry’s Mary for Evangelicals. I have never read a book on Mary before and am looking forward to seeing Perry’s conclusions. From what I have read to this point, his thoughts are helpful and biblically sound, if a little disconcerting from time to time for this raised-from-cradle evangelical Protestant. I am reading on this subject because I see the need to include something about Mary in my revision of the theology of persecution that I published a few years ago.

I am also reading On the Side of the Angels by Joseph D’Souza and Benedict Rogers. This book’s premise is that fighting for human rights and justice is part of the Kingdom mission. As I paged through the book when I first got it, I wasn’t sure that it would be worth my time, but as I am going through it, I am finding some quite helpful observations. I may say more next month.

Lastly, I am beginning to read Prayers for People Under Pressure by Jonathan Aitken. This will be my weekly devotional read once I finish Born For Battle.

I welcome any comments or questions on these books. I will be happy to share more as I read through some of them. And let me know what you are reading; I am always on the hunt for a good book.

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