Category Archives: Introductory Reading Suggestions

Theologians in the Pulpit

Where Theologians Belong: Behind the Pulpit.

This list was long overdue. I offer it both to beginners and to the more seasoned. If you’re new to theology, sermons can be a great entry point, and more immediately nourishing. If you’ve already been around the block once or twice, you may find that retaining sermons in your reading diet goes a long way toward keeping your focus on the one thing needful. Here are some favorites, and more. Most are fairly contemporary theologians. I’ve tried to draw from a variety of traditions.

Building Blocks of a Theological Library

Nicholas Lash has remarked, not unreasonably, that “It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that devout and educated Christians who refuse to acquire a theological competence cognate to the general level of their education simply do not care about the truth of Christianity” (Holiness, Speech & Silence, 5). If that’s the case, then it’s incumbent upon theologians to help their fellow Christians attain this cognate competence. The following list, then, offers some suggestions for filling out your family’s “Library for the Christian Home,” as it were, and for filling in what ever gaps in your knowledge base you’d care to remedy. (You may find that your own tradition has equivalent resources that didn’t make this list. So long as at least the following categories are represented, there’s no reason substitutions can’t be made.)

Worship Aids

Doctrinal Standards

Scripture

History

Theology, Philosophy, Ethics & Politics

Soul Care

Reading Suggestions for New Christians / Beginning Theologians

This short list is offered for those who’d like to begin reading theology but don’t know where to start, for those whose aim is simply to introduce a greater measure of thoughtfulness to their Christian walk. These texts will set you down a solid path. And they’ll do so in lively and accessible spirits. (No doubt my biases are exposed here, but I stand by my picks nonetheless.) In the future I’ll provide a reading list for those interested in taking a further step into theological scholarship.

“He [Jesus] does not, needless to say, want us to be shirkers or grabbers, idlers or egotists, playboys or exhibitionists. But then, once in his company, we do not want to be these things.”

“Hope partially fulfilled is hope preserved, not hope nullified” (178).

“Am I not reduced finally to silence? No! For there is only one thing left I can do. I can only give you the treasure” (214).

  • Paul Holmer, Making Christian Sense, (Westminster Press, 1984).

“Christianity, while including church, teachings, historical events, and persons, is, as the New Testament so poignantly shows, an access and means to a new love, a new hope, a new way, and a new view — a new thought — about oneself, God, and the world. In short, not only is one educated and disciplined in order to become a Christian (that surely is needed by all of us), but one also is educated and trained, disciplined and built up by Christianity. The Christian life is a way to learn new emotions, new virtues and righteousness, a new will, and a novel and tough way of thinking about oneself, God, and the world” (103).

“Why do you think translating Christian claims into philosophical-ese makes anything plainer?”

“If it is really God that theology is trying to understand, and it is really God who is inciting the search, then we should be able to recognize something good and perhaps even something holy developing in the character of those who are being genuinely and authentically theological” (50).

“To look outside the gospel for a starting point for the demonstration of the reasonableness of the gospel is itself a contradiction of the gospel, for it implies that we look for the logos elsewhere than in Jesus.”

[quotation available here]

“With the dark night of the soul the genie is no longer there to grant our every wish. God is no longer at our beck and call. By withdrawing, God communicates that he is not the servant of the person of faith, but it is the person of faith who is the servant” (65).

“In our age, and in the age that lies ahead, the faith we as Christians proclaim will need to be not a clever system but the possibility of dependable relationship” (26).

“Every good answer to every question about God’s character appeals to God as Triune” (16).