Developing a Christian Worldview Through Reading Widely: A Bibliography

As I said on the blog post introducing this, I had this as a handout for a workshop done at the October 2009 Christian Legal Society conference in La Jolla, California.  What a privilege to sit with a small group of lawyers, judges, jurists and law students and talk about reading as an act of worship, obedience, relevant discipleship and dialogue with the culture.  That spells WORD and was the main framework for my remarks about why we need to read seriously.  Here, then, are some of the best suggestions I had for this small but serious group.

On Making Prominent the Printed Page: Developing a Christian Worldview Through Reading Widely (for Christian lawyers.)

about reading

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in an Age of Show Business Neil Postman (Penguin) A classic study of how American culture shifted to entertainment, with illuminating case studies from religion and politics. A must-read.

How the Irish Saved Civilization Thomas Cahill (Anchor) A popular telling of the significance of Ireland's discovery (through St. Patrick and others) of reading and writing and books.

The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age Sven Birkerts (Faber & Faber) Part memoir, part lament, part speculation and social analysis about the fate of reading in the world of computers and the internet, with a recent new forward and afterward.

A Mind for God James Emory White (IVP) Short and inspiring, this is a helpful reminder of how reading helps shape a Christian worldview, from which we can effectively work and witness. Makes a lovely gift, succinct and inspiring.

Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling James Sire (IVP) Sire is always worth reading, and here he offers a lifetime of insight from a humble intellectual. A few of the sections are priceless---his love of reading shines through and he offers seasoned advice for being a life-long learner.

on worldview

Living at the Crossroads: An Introduction to Christian Worldview Michael Goheen & Craig Bartholomew (Baker) One of the best recent discussion of worldview, and how that is embodied in our era, a crossroad of modernity and postmodernity. Very, very insightful.

Creation Regained: A Biblical Basis for a Reformational Worldview Al Wolters (Eerdmans) One of the most often cited books on worldview; the "creation-fall-redemption" Bible study is very clear. The "structure-direction" distinction is essential. One helpful chapter in the second edition compares Wolter's Dutch neo-Calvinism with the popular and important missiological vision of Leslie Newbegin and the Biblical theology of N.T. Wright. Fascinating.

Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior Steve Garber (IVP) One of my all time favorite books by a friend of CLS; Garber eloquently explores three necessary features of a coherent and lasting Christian lifestyle. Worth reading and re-reading for anyone who cares about deep knowledge, integrated vocations, and our responsibility to learn how we can live out the mission of God. (The second edition has a brilliant forward and a moving afterword. Very, very rich.) A small disclaimer: I am mentioned in the book, which truly has nothing to do with my very sincere admiration for this author and the maturity of vision in the exceptional book. You can skip the few pages about me...

Heaven is Not My Home: Living in the Now of God's Creation Paul Marshall (Word) Although he has written important work on international human rights, this is a little known and delightful handbook for distinctively Christian perspectives across all of life. There are chapters on business, citizenship, art, technology, work, play, rest, learning, worship and more. Nothing like it in print!

He Shines in All That's Fair: Culture and Common Grace Richard Mouw (Eerdmans) Although Mouw writes as a Calvinist exploring the Reformed phrase "common grace" this is of vital interest to anyone who lives in the real world, wanting to know if God cares about the ordinary stuff of life. Does God enjoy baseball? Jazz? Popular music? Good laws? Mouw is always worth reading, and he shines here.

Head Heart Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion & Action Dennis Hollinger (IVP) Now the President of Gordon Conwell Seminary, Hollinger has several important and insightful books on ethics. Here, he shows how a balanced and robust Christian live must be thoughtful, passionate and active, but that many Christians (and many churches) over-emphasize one aspect of discipleship to the exclusion of the others. With great wisdom and practicality, he shows how all three are deeply intertwined and authentic growth must be multi-faceted.

Serious Times: Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day James Emery White (IVP) Inspired by the famous line from John Adams (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson) "My friend, you and I have lived in serous times" this looks at others who have similar left their mark on "serious times." White offers specific insights and lessons from a variety of heroic leaders, from Wilberforce to Lewis, Martin Luther to St. Benedict, Bonhoeffer to Mother Theresa, inviting us to take up our role in seeking God's work in the world. Lon Allison of the Billy Graham Center says, "My soul is quaking under the impact of this book."

Reordered Loves, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness David Naugle (Eerdmans) Some serious readers have suggested this is one of the best books they've ever read, drawing on Augustine's famous quip that to really understand what a person is like it is less telling to ask what he believes, but what he loves. How can we love the right stuff, in the right way? What if we do not? Naugle is one of the best "worldview thinkers" alive today, and this is a rich, warmly written, deep and rewarding meditation on what to care about.

Simply Christian N.T. Wright (Harper) Wright looks at a few issues that most people care about (from the most intimate to the most public) and uses those nearly universal longings for things "to be put to rights" and asks "what if the Biblical story answered those questions?" The heart of the book is his introduction to the Christian drama, based on a fine overview of the unfolding Biblical story, with some final chapters on what it might look like if that story answered those questions, and the implications for our lives, churches and work in the world. One of the best contemporary apologetics available.

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church N.T. Wright (Harper) If God is truly intending to restore the creation, and the physical resurrection is a foretaste of what God is doing in the world, and if we reject as Platonic a harsh dualism between body and soul then how do we view death, heaven, everlasting life, and such. How does a vibrant doctrine of resurrection and new creation effect our daily sense of hope and mission? Very, very stimulating.

Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, & Power, and the Only Hope That Matters Timothy Keller (Dutton) This may be the most insightful and profound brief study of idolatry I've yet seen, intellectually sophisticated yet very nicely written; deep yet practical, challenging yet full of a Christ-centered gospel of transformation. Highly recommended. Due late October 2010.

vocation & calling

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life Os Guinness (Nelson) One of my all time favorite books, the chapters are short but elegant, literary and Biblical, profoundly theological and yet helpful for anyone who wants a sustainable and faithful basis for a "purpose driven life." A must for our times! (By the way, the "prequel", The Long Journey Home is an excellent invitation for seekers.)

A Journey Worth Taking: Finding Your Purpose in This World Charles Drew (Presbyterian & Reformed) Informed by the same vision as Guinness about the need for a thoughtful doctrine of vocation and calling, this is more systematically developed following the unfolding Biblical themes of creation, fall and redemption. Excellent.

Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling Andy Crouch (IVP) One of the most talked about evangelical books in years, this reminds us that worldviews are less abstract ideas but embodied ways of living, and that we are called not just to think or "engage" culture, but to actually produce cultural goods. From omelets to artifacts, laws to businesses, families to civic organizations, we humans make culture, and it is a God-given duty to do it as an act of worship and service. No one has written about this better.

Your Work Matters to God Douglas Sherman & William Hendricks (NavPress) The best, most readable and practical overview of a Christian theology of work. The title says it all...highly recommended.

Fabric of This World: Inquiries into Calling, Career, and the Design of Human Work Lee Hardy (Eerdmans) Often cited, a serious and rich study of the notion of work and calling by an astute Christian philosopher who has written insightfully about the nature and order and possibilities of work.

The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work & Ministry in Biblical Perspective Paul Stevens (Eerdmans) Stevens has written widely on the role of the laity, of the integration of faith and calling, and has worked for years helping Christians think faithfully about their work. This is his best thinking on the subject.

Forgetting Ourselves On Purpose: Vocation and the Ethics of Ambition Brian Mahan (Jossey Bass) Evocative, playful, stimulating, a wise and helpful reflection on the role of ambition, service and such. Not your typical "Christian" book, but very well worth pondering...

political life and legal thought

The Good News About Injustice and Just Courage Gary Haugen (IVP) The International Justice Mission may be one of the most exciting and fruitful international Christian legal organizations of our time. These are foundational, evangelical studies of God's heart for justice and how we can be involved as agents of His healing and reconciliation. Powerful, basic, vital.

God & the Constitution: Christianity and American Politics Paul Marshall (Rowman & Littlefield) I think this is somewhat mis-titled as it is not really about the Constitution as such. It is the best overview of a distinctively Christian view of government yet done. Very helpful for anyone pondering the role of government and a Biblically-informed view of politics.

 

 

Church, State and Public Justice: Five Views edited by P. C. Kemeny (IVP) Five scholars offer their take on uniquely Christian politics, and then the other four respond. Excellently presented views include a Catholic perspective, a classical "separationist" view, a moderate Anabaptist approach, a "principled-pluralist" neo-Calvinist view and a mainline Protestant social justice emphasis. Wow.

Political Visions and Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies David Koyzis (IVP) No one volume is a profound and readable in its study of the roots of Western thought and the history of the development of political theory. Koyzis astutely exposes the Enlightenment roots of both liberals and conservatives, and helps us understand the dynamics of ideological conflict in the modern world. Very significant.

Justice: Rights & Wrongs Nicholas Woltersdorff (Princeton University Press) Recently reviewed in the CLS Christian Lawyer journal, this is serious, philosophical stuff, by an eminent Christian philosopher. Anyone called to legal work in any capacity needs to reflect long and hard on the nature of justice, and this scholarly work will help. Important and weighty.

Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World Richard Mouw (IVP) I love this book, its teacherly style, wise ways and gentle call and humble apologetic. Anyone involved in public life ought to read this once every year or so. Lovely, honest, and good.

The Case for Civility: And Why Our Future Depends on It Os Guinness (HarperOne) More than a call to good public manners or civil politeness, this is a fabulous exploration of the nature of our distinctively American way of honoring freedom of speech, rooted in First Amendment freedoms for and from religion. Dr. Guinness is one of our leading evangelical social thinkers, and here he passionately calls for work not towards a Christian takeover, but a leavening influence by advocating for pluralism, fairness and a strong appreciation for the vision of the Framers of the constitution. Highly recommended.

Toward an Evangelical Public Policy: Political Strategies for the Health of the Nation Ronald Sider & Diane Knippers (Baker) The National Association of Evangelicals worked for years to come up with a non-partisan, balanced and Biblically-informed social vision, and their "For the Health of the Nation" document (included herein) was published along with this set of wide-ranging essays. One of the very best collections of evangelical social thinking. Important, and a great reference tool.

Politics for the Greatest Good: The Case for Prudence in the Public Square Clarke D. Forsythe (IVP) The author is a leading policy strategist in bioethical issues and senior counsel for Americans United for Life, a national pro-life public policy organization. He has argued before federal and state courts and testified before Congress; he knows what he's talking about! Here, he offers thorough and wise judgements about moral absolutes, political compromise, and effective Christian involvement. Reasonable and strategic.

How Free People Move Mountaisn: A Male Christian Conservative and a Female Jewish Liberal on a Quest for Common Purpose and Meaning Kathy Roth-Douquet & Frank Schaeffer (Collins) This is a fun and feisty read where two very different individuals argue back and forth, wondering how to bring civic change, greater justice and maturity to our pubic discourse. A great example of digging deep into philosophical and religious foundations, disagreeing and debating, with common concern and passion.

Crime and Its Victims Dan Van Ness (IVP) When Chuck Colson moved from only prison evangelism and ministry to include work for more structural reforms, he commissioned Van Ness to do a foundational Biblical study of crime and punishment. This is the best volume on the topic.

Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime & Justice Howard Zehr (Herald Press) With Van Ness' contribution to evangelical discourse around "restorative justice" as a basis, other (Mennonite) activist-scholars have developed the idea into greater clarity around reforms, values and proposals for more Christ-like approaches in criminology. A very important contribution, which should be considered.

God's Joust, God's Justice: Law and Religion in the Western Tradition John Witte, Jr (Eerdmans) I would be remiss not to note something of the prolific, substantive scholar, Dr. Witte. He is one of the leading scholars in this field, now the director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. This "traces the historic struggles that generated the constitutional separation of church and state..."

lawyering

The Believers Guide to Legal Issues Stephen Bloom (Living Ink) What a joy to see a simple, clear-headed, spiritually-based introduction to legal issues. Most Christian attorneys would know all this, but it is an ideal tool to share with others in your church or practice, framed by simple gospel insight. Nice.

The Lawyers Calling: Christian Faith and Legal Practice Joseph Allegretti (Paulist Press) One of the best overviews of the ways in which faith shapes legal practice, the metaphors that are used to imagine what lawyers are and do, and how to be a responsible, ethical, attorney. Semi-scholarly, readable, insightful, from a Roman Catholic lawyer drawing on many Protestant sources. Very helpful.

Can a Good Lawyer Be a Good Lawyer? edited Thomas Baker (University of Notre Dame Press) An ecumenical collection of essays, sermons, meditations, and reflective pieces, including some written by active CLS leaders. You may not love each and every entry, but most are good, and a few are great.

Redeeming Law: Christian Calling and the Legal Profession Michael Schutt (IVP) I believe that every career and profession should be so fortunate as to have such a winsome, readable, and yet profound and scholarly treatment of nearly every aspect of the foundations of the field. Not necessarily the most simple or practical, but it is the most essential book for every Christian lawyer's library. Highly, highly recommended. Great footnotes lead in many good directions for further study, and the discussion questions make it ideal for personal growth or small group conversation. Get several and pass 'em out!

First Be Reconciled: Challenging Christians in the Courts Richard Church (Herald Press) Many attorneys struggle with the Biblical verse about not going to court, and this Mennonite lawyer take is most seriously. Provocative and important, attempting to be serious about Biblical obedience in the reformation of legal attitudes and practices.