A reading list

This morning I sort of wrapped up (again, at least for the time being) another part of the "stay-or-go" series at TeamPyro, and it made me want to sort of recap or reflect on why I wanted to bother with that anyway. This is where I am right now, so read on at your own risk.

I think the first thing that really got me thinking about this is that, frankly, I have a lot of friends and associates who are frankly church-hoppers. Some of then I feel sorry for because they don't really want to be that way, but they are; others don't see that it hurts them to be theologically high-brow and practically dead in the faith; others are simply superficial people with a faith life so superficial that they'd list "listening to Christian music on the radio" as devotional time. Sheesh.

The next thing that really got me interested in this topic is the inane treatment it got in two books recently (and by (recently) I mean (since I started blogging"): Mega Shift by Jim Rutz and Revolution by George Barna. Both of those books ought to go down in historical infamy for the lack of editorial intervention on the part of their publishers to ask these guys to go back and think a little more deeply about how the NT defines the called-out believers joined together under the Gospel, and the subsequent damage to people who take what is put in print in Christian bookstores at face value.

So in thinking about the first thing, and reading and reviewing the stuff in the second thing, I started looking for better books on this subject, and of course the best book on this subject, in spite of its non-linear delivery of the answers to the questions, is the Bible. I read the Pastoral letters, and then the major letters from Paul to the churches, and tried to put those letters into the contexts that they were written and then immediately read. And I also found a handful of books that are not inspired helpful in setting up logical boundaries by which to view the state of the local church today:

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, by Mark Noll

9 Marks of a Healthy Church, and The Deliberate Church, by Mark Dever

No Place for Truth, and Above All Earthly Pow'rs, by the insanely-brilliant David F. Wells

10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, and Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church, by Don Whitney

Perspectives on Church Government: Five Views of Church Polity, edited by Chad Owen Brand & R. Stanton Norman

Lastly, I tried to view my own experiences in the church through these lenses first in order to sort of humble myself and not try to be the example of what's right – because I'm not much of an example, really. In a lot of ways I am a beneficiary of God's grace and providence in who I married, where I have worshipped, where I have lived, and who God has given me to fellowship with.

And in that, I also owe a great debt to a number of men who have given me their friendship over the years when they didn’t really have anything to gain from it, some of whom you'd know and some who are only known by God and whose hidden work will be revealed in the last account – guys who I won’t name because it would embarrass them.

So if you want to try to follow the path I sort of stumbled down to get to where those posts came from, that's it.