Updated: Mar 8, 2020
One of our favorite rhythms as we start to look to the warmth of sunny days at the beach and cool evenings on the porch is crafting the summer reading list. We asked some of our faculty to weigh in on some of their favorite reads of all time and compiled the below list for you. We hope the diversity of their suggestions both challenges and inspires your selections as they share why each text is meaningful to them.
Dr. Brian Lidbeck: Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God, by Gordon Fee. One of the main reasons I love this text is because it makes people aware that the scriptures were not simply written to individuals, but to a community. Fee’s text helps the individual to see Christianity through the lens of the community rather than through the lens of western individualism. Many people read the Bible with the assumption that every verse was intended primarily for the benefit of the individual and with little regard for the community or church context. This results in a rather narcissistic approach to Christianity instead of developing a self-giving, loving concern for the people of God. After all, Jesus did not only die to save individuals but to create a community of people in relationship with him.
Stephanie West: One reading that was paramount to me better understanding the tools that Satan has at his disposal was The Screwtape Letters from C.S. Lewis. To be fair, all of what I read from Lewis leaves me stunned, but The Screwtape Letters was my first foray into his work and came at the right time in such a blessed way. It helped reintroduce me to God's love, His redirection, and His gentleness with us when we make poor choices again and again. Satan works against us, but we work against ourselves too. This book helped equip me with a better understanding of at least part of what we are up against with the three-pronged assault of Satan, self, and the world. As an additional bonus, I would highly encourage all to read A Severe Mercy from Sheldon Vanauken with prior unpublished correspondence between himself and C.S. Lewis. It is a beautiful piece.
Jamie Evans: The book that I would choose is called: Revelation and the End of All Things by Craig R. Koester. I read this book during a formative time in my life. As a young minister, I found it fascinating and hard to put down as I have always had an affinity for Revelation. Ministers can often be intimidated by the book of Revelation and will not study or preach from it but Koester helped me understand it in a way that made sense to me. It's not simply about the plagues and judgments and the destruction of humanity; It is about God and the Lamb, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
Erin Colago: Confessions by Augustine. The opening lines of this text are painted on one of the walls at my home because there is something so compelling and essential about the truth of his words, "Thou has made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee." These lines anchor me and serve as a reminder in the busyness of my life to abide in Christ. I find Augustine's voice refreshing, and the honesty that he uses in sharing his story is compelling to me also. He dives into the good, the shameful, the sad, and the beautiful parts of his life truthfully. In the retelling of these moments, he allows others to learn from his mistakes and his growth as well. This text is well worth the journey.
Brian Miller: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien is my favorite text of all time. There is such a depth to the world he created! Middle Earth is much like our world, it has a long history, and it is a broken place where joy and pain mingle together. Suffering and defeat battle with courage and victory in the hearts of Hobbits, men, elves, and dwarves. Middle Earth is populated with people like you and me; ordinary folk who find their courage and fulfill their destiny in the face of impossible odds. There is an adventure to embark on, a Fellowship to be forged, and at last, when the journey is complete, the final voyage begins. The longing for home and the hope of waking up in the Undying Land strengthens my heart and gives me the courage to continue. The road goes ever on.