Tag Archives: theology

The Books I’m Planning to Read in 2014

Gemma inspired me to be a little more intentional with my reading so I’ve put together a list of the books I’d like to read in 2014. I’m sure it will have a degree of flexibility.

Have you read any of them? What did you think? Any you think I should add or not bother with?

Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Canada – Richard Ford
May We Be Forgiven – AM Homes
Best Of Our Spies – Alex Gerlis
The Governor – John Lonergan
Conversations With Myself – Nelson Mandela
Once Upon A Country: A Palestinian Life – Sari Nusseibeh & Anthony David
Boundaries for Leaders – Henry Cloud
Authentic Happiness – Martin Seligman (Psychology as related to coaching)
Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek
Thanks For The Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well – Sheila Stone &Douglas Heen
The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatious
A Theology of Work -Darrell  Cosden
Introducing Liberation Theology – Boff & Boff
Why Cities Matter – Stephen Um & Justin Buzzard
Doing Local Theology – Clemens Sedmak
And looking for some good stuff on Isaiah
Have you read any of them? What did you think? Any you think I should add or not bother with?

2013 in Books: Non-fiction (part one)

Due to my need to categorise this is part one in the non-fiction books. On a side-note I’m finding Goodreads a great way of keeping track of my reading.


OneWildLifeFrontCoverART-sm1. One Wild Life – Claire Mulvaney

This qualifies as biography (in my mind!) in that the author Claire Mulvaney tells the stories (and interviews) people around the globe who are working for social change. From Ireland to India she introduces over 30 people working to make the world  better place. With a few pages per person its a great book to dip into every day and come away inspired and motivated to make a difference. Find out more on her site here.

51eaYJmEwfL._AA160_2. Adventures of a Waterboy – Mike Scott

No matter if you’re a fan of the Waterboys or not this is a great read and wonderful insight into life as a musician. I read Peter Carlin’s ‘Bruce’ at a similar time and Mike Scott’s writing is vastly superior – unsurprisingly.


3. Where Are You Really From? – Tim Brannigan

I think everyone from Northern Ireland should read this – especially if you come from a Protestant background. Fascinating and incredible story of growing up black in West Belfast in the 70s and spending time in the H blocks.

Honourable mention for ‘Stillness and Speed: My Story’ by Dennis Bergkamp which isn’t really by him but more a series of interviews. Bergkamp was undoubtedly one of the best footballers to grace the Premiership. His insights and story of a playing career spanning Ajax, Inter Milan and Arsenal are a must read for the football geek. and it was only 59p on Kindle. Bargain.


Interestingly I found myself reading much less Christian books in 2013 although maybe I was just being more selective!

JTMEE1. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes – Kenneth Bailey

Kenneth Bailey is a Middle-Eastern scholar (and lived there for 40 years) who has written some brilliant books unpacking the context of the Middle East at the time of Jesus helping bring deeper understanding of many of Jesus’ encounters and parables. The section of Jesus and women was particularly helpful with some of the material on the parables similar to his earlier works Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes.

WMF2. The Word Made Flesh – Eugene Peterson

I feel I’m starting to turn into Jaybercrow as my love for Eugene Peterson’s writing reaches adulation. Maybe its about stage of life or experiences but I find Peterson incredibly insightful, earthy and inspiring.This is the fourth in Peterson’s wonderful ‘Spiritual Theology’ series. Continuing the parables theme – I really enjoyed getting stuck into them this past year, also dipping into Ched Myers ‘Binding the Strong Man’.

STPOTC3. Seek the Good of the City – Doug Banister

A free ebook (get it here) this is a wonderfully short, holistic and practical guide to what it looks like to seek to bless the city.

Honourable mention to Multiplying Missional Leaders by Mike Breen – another practical and provocative read.

What were your best biographies and theology/Christian reads of 2013?

Next up is leadership and productivity.

Where are the doctrine police when you need them? (some questions of a theological nature)

Rants from the soapbox have been pretty sparse recently through being tired, being away, getting old, but also having an ‘Key Doctrines’ exam next week on things like election and predestination, the Spirit and the Church. At this point half of you stop reading so welcome to the theology geeks. So I’ve been and am trying to study (while not playing scrabble on facebook and staring out the window or walking around a lot pretending to think), and I have a few questions.

Calvinism and election and all that.
So for the first time yesterday to my shame I read the five points of Calvinism (on a side note thank you Alastair McGrath for summarising clearly in a few pages what everyone else seems to take a book to try to do). Now I realised that I’m not a fan of limited atonement – it just doesn’t seem to square with scripture and God’s character (to me) that Jesus only died for the elect. I’d always assumed Jesus died for everyone and it was up to them to choose to accept the offer of grace and forgiveness. And the perseverance of the saints (once saved always saved in popular parlance) we had lots of discussion on in class, where the learned professor (in the Presbyterian college) suggested that we must take the warnings in scripture about not falling away seriously. I think Paul Helm said it would be immoral to warn about something that had no risk of happening. So then I came to read a book by Roger Olsen on Arminianism (as it actually is and not all the misunderstood caricatures) and found myself incredibly sympathetic to something that in various circles I’d tended to hear spoken of in a sense that ‘when Arminians grow up, or start thinking, they’ll see the light and become Calvinists’. I know I’m caricaturing a bit, and it does make me think about who people are following and Paul’s rebuke in 1 Corinthians 3.4. Is it just me or does it seem that sometimes people are more interested in following or the thought of Calvin or John Owen than Jesus? Olsen also suggested that although many churches profess Calvinism or Calvinistic tendencies, the actual default position of many evangelicals is Arminiansim or Semi-Pelagianism. Interesting eh? (that’s one for the geeks).

The Spirit
That often forgotten member of the Trinity, or the Trinity that is not Father, Son and Holy Scriptures. Apologies, I’m being facetious again. Regarding the more miraculous gifts, i’m aware there are different opinions, but it was suggested in class that theologically we must be non-cessasationist as the biblical support for miraculous gifts ceasing with the closing of the canon is so unclear. Now I’ve probably considered myself charismatic more by theology than experience but a comment by Sam Storms in his book convergence challenged me whether you can say that or if it is a bit of a cop out. Obviously recognising everyone has different gifts, but if these gifts are for today, and we are to seek after gifts, why do we see so little evidence of them? Have we been quenching the Spirit? Individually or institutionally?

I am learning and trying to think about some of this stuff, although I realise there are things we will never figure out – there is the element of God that is mystery but I appreciate all the help I can get as this faith seeks understanding.

And then there’s the church, but I better get back to the old revision… (Realising some of the flaws of Warhol’s quote below – waiting for exams definitely doesn’t make them more exciting)