Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good Books from 2009

I thought that I would share with you some of the books that have been speaking to me over the last year. So without further adieu...

Mere Discipleship

This might be the best book I read all year (and maybe top ten all-time). Lee Camp points us to the fact that discipleship is not something that simply consists of reading your Bible, praying, etc. Rather, discipleship is a radical stance of nonviolent resistance that believers take toward a world lost in rebellion. With a large emphasis on the nonviolent nature of the Kingdom, Mr. Camp talks about Christian discipleship as a life of revealing God's coming Kingdom in the now. Mr. Camp studied under John Howard Yoder at the University of Notre Dame. This book is sort of an overview and expansion of John Howard Yoder's teachings. After reading this book I have bought a copy of The Politics of Jesus by Mr. Yoder that I intend to read in the new year. I believe that Mere Discipleship is a must read.

Jesus for President

This is probably the most enjoyable read I had all year. The layout of this book is an artistic creation in itself. Shane Claiborne & Chris Haw speak in this book of the radical subversive nature of the Kingdom. Once again with a large chunk of the book dedicated to understanding the call of Jesus to a life of nonviolence, the authors talk about the Kingdom of God's upside down nature when compared to the empires of our world. One of the things I appreciate so much about Shane is his radical life that demonstrates the message he shares. There are some radical examples of Kingdom living shared in this book and I believe that it does well to shake us into seeing just how topsy-turvy God's Kingdom really is...or is it this fallen world which is topsy-turvy...Hmmm. I loved this book and recommend it highly.

The Myth of a Christian Religion

If you have discussed theology with me in the last year, you probably have heard me mention Greg Boyd's name. I love Greg Boyd's take on things. His book The Myth of a Christian Nation is one of my favorite books of all time. It was the first book that I read that really addressed the call of Jesus to nonviolence. Well as a sequel to that book, this one doesn't disappoint. In this book Mr. Boyd talks about how, as believers, we are called to rebel against all of the things in this world which are not in line with God's Kingdom. For example, we rebel against greed by sharing with those in need. We rebel against racism by viewing people of all ethnicities as fellow members of God's House. We rebel against a world of violence by choosing intentionally to love our enemies. This is a great book on understanding what our true spiritual warfare is to look like. We don't fight people; instead we fight systems and corruption that hurts those for whom Jesus died.

The Divine Commodity

This is an eye-opening book about how our consumer culture has conditioned us both in our day to day lives and our faith. Mr. Jethani uses the life of Vincent VanGogh and his art to teach about faith as uncluttered from greed. He shows how not only our individual lives have been negatively impacted by consumerism, but also how the Western Church as a whole has bought into the lie of bigger is better. This book should be required reading for any believer living in the western hemisphere. The chapter that talks about Christmas is worth reading the whole book for.

What Would You Do?

This is the first John Howard Yoder book that I have read. Mr. Yoder was a Mennonite theologian who is best known for his teachings on Jesus' call to nonviolence. In this book Mr. Yoder attempts to answer the hypothetical question that is often asked of pacifists "What would you do if someone were to attack you, your spouse, or your children?" This book is broken up into three parts. In the first Mr. Yoder makes his case for why one should respond to such a situation in a nonviolent way. In the second section he uses the writings of others (everyone from Joan Baez to Leo Tolstoy) to show the rationality of a nonviolent response especially for those who believe in Jesus. The last section of the book is composed of 10 retellings of actual situations where someone who was threatened responded in a nonviolent way. This is a great book for those who are interested in Christian nonviolence or pacifism.

Well, this helps me to remember some of the books that have impacted me over the last year. Hopefully you will be ministered to by some of these as well. Some of the books on my list to read are: The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder, ReJesus by Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch, The Subversion of Christianity by Jacques Ellul, and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. What are some books that God is using in your life?