Like in 2020, I have been reading academic books in theology, church history, and related subjects since August 2022. Once again, the transition from pastoral to seminary-focus reading was due to my acceptance into the Ph.D. program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Nevertheless, unlike 2020 which focused on academics, and 2021 focused on pastoral readings, this year had a balance of pastoral-theologian reading.
Moreover, overlapping systematic and digital theology subjects contribute to my required readings and paper conference presentations. Thus, the recent critical book review blogs and journal article styles were uploaded to this site. Anyway, here are my top ten books for this year. Enjoy!
Tenth #10: Matthew Kim, A Little Book for New Preachers: Why and How to Study Homiletics (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2020), 110 pages.
A good book for homiletics. It also offers basic hermeneutics and Bible backgrounds for OT and NT. It is a primer for those new preachers or planning to be a preacher. It balances the skills and heart of the preacher. It contends for the servant’s heart and willingness to commit to them on a pastoral level. A preacher needs to have a pastoral heart in order to serve wholeheartedly the body of Christ. Pick this book if you want to learn a basic yet competent book on homiletics.
Ninth #9: Justo L. González, The Mestizo Augustine: A Theologian Between Two Cultures (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016), 176 pages.
I love anything that Justo Gonzalez writes. I have read several biographical sketches of Saint Augustine and different presentations about him and his works. This specific work of Gonzalez shed light on a deeper context about the two cultures of Augustine. Moreover, as a renowned church historian, Gonzalez presented the philosophies, cultural background, scenario, and challenges as if walking through Augustine’s memory lane. As always, excellent!
Eight #8: David J. Chalmers, Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy (NY: WW Norton & Co., 2022), 544 pages.
David Chalmers is known to be a philosopher of mind, conscience, and metaphysics. Though I have learned many things and benefited from his work/s. There are several points I do not adhere to his philosophy, especially his claim of simulated realism. However, his unique concept of virtual realism and a historic-philosophical presentation of its history were thought-provoking and somehow influenced me. In this work, he went beyond theoretical metaphysics by reaching his proposed worldview’s ethical and practical living. I applaud his critical thinking.
Seventh #7: Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Café (Toronto, Ontario: Hanover Square Press, 2021), 192 pages.
A great sequel to Before the Coffee Gets Cold. The book is still readable, even after skipping the first book. Complete details and information about the mystery of the cafe. The picture and characters get clearer and clearer as each chapter unfolds. Can’t wait to read the third book. Read #4 for more details.
Sixth #6: Heidi Campbell and John Dyer, eds., Ecclesiology for a Digital Church: Theological Reflections on a New Normal (London: SCM Press, 2022), 253 pages.
A must-read for every church pastor and leader. This book is not only for those who practice digital churches or hybrid ones but for everyone to understand a good presentation of contextual ecclesiology in this post/digital age. The book represents voices from different contexts, cultures, and perspectives. Though I do not agree with some conclusions, I love how it informs me from different theological angles. Grab this if you want to learn more about digital theology, missions, evangelism, ecclesiology, and ethics in today’s digital context. They have defined terminologies, observed practices, and presented fresh expressions of doing and being church. I have always wanted to learn deeper digital theology. My favorite chapters are 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, and 11. PS. I got the book for free during the book launch.
Fifth #5: Gregory of Nazianzus, On God and Christ, The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius: St. Gregory of Nazianzus (NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2022), 144 pages [Kindle].
Gregory’s handling of his natural flow of biblical references, including apocryphal books, and carefulness of philosophical citations are notable. The work itself is both systematic and biblical theology. This volume of Gregory can be a primary source for the theological method, trinitarian theology and a good start for patristic studies. Finally, being a bishop, he exemplifies the balance of a pastor and theologian “who always engages with his congregation” (12). Gregory’s work assures and guides his readers to worship the Trinity (98)—developing theological doctrines to doxology. He stated, “To the best of my powers I will persuade all men to worship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the single Godhead and power, because to him belong all glory, honor, and might for ever and ever” (100-101). [Read more]
Fourth #4: Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Before the Coffee Gets Cold (London: Picador, 2019), 213 pages.
From time to time, I read short novels. This year, I have been reading Kawaguchi’s works. The story centers on a coffee shop that offers time traveling. However, even though it is tempting to accept this mysterious offer, only a few tried it. Why? The reason is due to its very strict rules. You cannot change the present or future. You sit in a specific chair. You cannot get up. And you need to finish the coffee before it gets cold. Or else, you will be stuck in the past or future, which can lead to your death. Nevertheless, I enjoyed how the logical details of time traveling were intact amidst having a specific set of rules. I think the author made a more reasonable way of time traveling than what the Marvel series offers about the multiverse. This book is thought-provoking with a personal writing style. It went outside the box of mediocre writing. I love it.
Third #3: Rhyne Putman, The Method of Christian Theology: A Basic Introduction (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2021), 336 pages.
This book aims to provide a primer for theology students and preachers. Consequently, Putman seems to think about the church lay leaders and even small group leaders when he writes this work. It has a pastoral tone emphasizing Christian discipleship as the goal of doing theology. The balance of academic and ministerial approaches makes it easier for anyone who reads Putman’s theological method. The scholarship is present but transformed into a comprehensible version without reducing its integrity. Putman’s wide-range use of modern theological scholars, patristics, Reformers, and interdisciplinary fields is commendable. He opens his Christian theological method in the broader Evangelical group and other faith communities. It may look broad, but Putman could contend where he stands—others would call him an open but cautious theologian. [Read more]
Second #2: Dustin W. Benge, The Loveliest Place: The Beauty and Glory of the Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022), 208 pages.
Pardon me for comparing, but Benge’s work of “re”-discovering church was more captivating, edifying, and spiritual than Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman’s Rediscover Church. The church is the loveliest place because of Christ. The beauty of the bride reflects the beauty of Christ. The Spirit beautifies the church. If you’re exhausted, offended, and have given up your church, you might want to read this book and see its significance and beauty from the overflowing glory and grace of the Triune God. Overall, this book is very comforting and encouraging.
First #1: Michael J. Svigel and Glenn R. Kreider, A Practical Primer on Theological Method: Table Manners for Discussing God, His Works, and His Ways (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2019), 177 pages.
Glenn Kreider and Michael Svigel present this approach by grounding in Early Church tradition, Jewish Council in Acts 15, focusing on the centrality of God’s revelation and offering a dialogue with the fields of Biblical Hermeneutics, Dogmatics, Morality, Philosophy, Science, Arts, Practical Theology, and History. Indeed, each chapter is informative, profound, and coherent; it builds on and connects with each field.
The authors’ concern is orthodoxy and orthopraxy in a community setting. The integrative approach is holistic, inclusive, and communal in essence. However, to some cognitive-prepositionalist, individualists, and the likes of Gregory of Nyssa, theology or deep discussion about God is not for everyone. Indeed, being mindful of God is necessary. However, contributing to the theological discussion with a shallow understanding and slow thought process can lead to heresy. Nevertheless, this integrative approach, personally, is what suits today’s cultural milieu. It is neither postmodern nor modern but communal and inclusive, which the authors contend is the classic Christian approach (i.e., the Jewish Council Acts 15 model).
In conclusion, Kreider and Svigel invite the reader to sit at the Table and participate in this dialogue. Nevertheless, everyone seems to have a place at the Table. It is only a matter of time and a proper awareness of which seat a person must contribute. Hence, read this book. [Read more]
How about you? What’s your favorite book/s this year? Comment it below. Thank you!