Sunday, March 01, 2009

So what have you been reading lately?

I have not yet put out a summary of my recent readings in 2009 for the plain and simple reason that between being overly busy in January and then rather ill in February, I haven't have the chance to read much over the past couple of months.  I have been reading pages of David Scaer's work on James which purports to the a christological epistle for the persecuted church, written during the early persecution of the church between Acts 8-10. If true, this would make James, by far, the first New Testament book.  An interesting proposal that I hope to finish one of these days when my concentration rises above that of a fruit fly and my ability to type above that of a chimpanzee.

I have made a little more progress on Hare's The Theme of Jewish Persecution of Christians in Gospel According to St Matthew.  A helpful study apart from the author's obvious distrust of Luke as a historian in Acts.  Surprisely readable, however.

tqffd The only book that I have managed to finish is The Quest for Freedom and Dignity by Vishal Mangalwandi.  Simply put, this book has helped me more to understand the situation facing Christians in present day India than any other book or report that I have yet read. Through the use of stories, testimonies and theological reflections, the author shows how Christ is not only the answer to bringing lasting peace to the life of the Indian but to India itself.  Order it and read it!  That's all I can say, if you really want to understand India.  Vishal Mangalwandi is one of India's clearest Christian thinkers alive today, I believe.  It's why I insisted that we needed to make this book available after I had read it.  There is much to be heard in this book, both for Westerners and Indians.


Matthew said...

I am working through Eat this Book by Eugene Peterson, on the subject of reading the Bible. It is very thought-provoking and helpful-- Peterson never fails to challenge me and encourage me.

I am also reading Why Haven't You Left?, a book of missionary letters written by Marc Nikkel, a missionary to Sudan during the era of civil war. It is heartbreaking and beautiful-- I hope that one day I can write as well as he does.

Glenn Penner said...

Thank you for sharing this. Matthew. As someone who has been in Sudan severial times during and after the civil war in the south, I was intriqued to see that Nikkel had written this book; I have others of his historical works. I have ordered it.

BTW, ordinarily I don't allow posts with hyperlinks (for security reasons for our readers) but I decided to take the risk and check these out first and saw that they were safe. I expected as much, as you are a regular, but just in case.... Thanks!

Matthew said...

okay, I shall be judicious about links in the future... thanks for letting me know. I figured it was only appropriate since that's what you did in your post.

your books also look pretty interesting, too... I have been hearing more and more of Mangalwandi lately and will have to pick up his book soon.

Did you ever get to meet Nikkel? He seems like such a cool guy; I've read some of his other books on Christianity in the Sudan and I always wish he'd had another 20 years or so to leave more for future generations of missionaries to Sudan like me...

Glenn Penner said...

Yeh, a recent study showed that Blogger is one of the worst for malware links posted by commenters. That's why we are pretty careful about it.

No, I never met Nikkel. Though I did heard about him and read some of other work about and for the Sudanese

ASimpleSinner said...

Lately I have been reading "Confessions" by Augustine of Hippo... If you will indulge me a bit, I think it is rather appropriate and pertinent to anyone who keeps the persecuted in their prayers. Why? Because the persecuted could not be such without persecutors, and what are persecutors but folks we (most earnestly pray) are pre-converted?

It is certainly easy to forget that much of the persecution comes not from those who are otherwise indifferent to things that we as Christians hold dear... But in fact comes from folks grasping errantly for a thing that is good, but incomplete in its goodness.

It is very much "written on the heart of man" to seek God and wish to do His will. Augustine understands that even before he was a beleiver, and then as a believer in a sect of falsehoods (Manicheanism) his motivation for reaching out for the Good was rooted in the natural inclinations the Father gives us that Christ satisfies.

So as easy as it sometimes is to begin to think of non-believers who persecute Christians as "the other"... some sort of less-than-human creature that persecutes the saints... We can and must pray as much for the persecutors and the persecuted. Christ died for their salvation, pouring out His life so that all men have the potential to realize God's own desire for man: to love Him, know Him and serve Him in this life, and be happy with Him for all eternity in the next.

So in young Augustine we find both debauchery and radically errant false belief.

Keep the persecuted and the persecutors in your prayers!