Reading Posts

Ethics

EthicsI recently finished an entire class on the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a German pastor and theologian during the rise of Hitler and National Socialism in Germany. As a pacifist, he later joined a plot to assassinate Hitler. As you might imagine, there are lots of complexities to all of this and we have numerous books he wrote to unpack his thinking along the way. One of my favorites is his book Ethics. I don’t agree with all of his conclusions in this book but I find his arguments intriguing and worth spending time considering. Some of his comments in the book even seem to help us understand the rise of guys like Donald Trump (see: The Successful Man).

Ethics gets into the gray area between right and wrong and looks at the complexities of how to live out our faith in the midst of trying times. Bonhoeffer didn’t argue that it was okay to kill Hitler because Hitler was extra evil. Rather, he argued that he willingly assumed guilt for his part in the assassination attempt because assuming this guilt on behalf of others was ultimately the right thing to do. Parts of the book can get a bit theologically dense, so the following are a few of my favorite quotes from the book to give you a feel for it. I group them into four categories: Jesus, assuming guilt, the will of God, and general thoughts.

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"The world will allow itself to be subdued only by success. It is not ideas or opinions which decide, but deeds. Success alone justifies wrongs done. Success heals the wounds of guilt. There is no sense in reproaching the successful man for his unvirtuous behaviour, for this would be to remain in the past while the successful man strides forward from one deed to the next, conquering the future and securing the irrevocability of what has been done. The successful man presents us with accomplished facts which can never again be reversed. What he destroys cannot be restored. What he constructs will acquire at least a prescriptive right in the next generation. No indictment can make good the guilt which the successful man has left behind him. The indictment falls silent with the passage of time, but the success remains and determines the course of history."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics

A Spoke in the Wheel

a spoke in the wheelA week ago I started what may turn out to be one of my favorite classes. The next few months at Fuller I’m studying the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian alive during the rise of Hitler. He was executed about one month before the Nazi’s final demise. While I do not agree with everything Bonhoeffer believed or did, his life offers us a vulnerable look at how to live out a faith in Christ amidst the most trying times one might imagine.

The first book I read for the course is called A Spoke in the Wheel by Renate Wind. It provides both a biographical look on Bonhoeffer’s life as well as a collection of some of his writings. Below are some of the quotes from the book that most stood out to me.

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My 51 books of 2015

Here are the books I read in 2015 with my rating for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. Topping the list this year was The Bible Tells Me So and The Grand Paradox.

Any book without a number rating has been given to me by the author or publisher. In addition to this list you might also check out my reading lists from previous years as well as my recommendations on how to become a better reader. A lot of people resolve to read more in the new year and if that’s you I hope this list gives you something to get you started.

This year I also released my book Redeeming Pleasure in September.

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Everyone is a Theologian

reknew manifestoOne of my mentors recently developed a recommended library on a number of theological topics. It’s not just any list, as it spans more than 2000 books. It’s meticulously organized around nine major themes: Bible Interpretation, The Old Testament, The New Testament, Church History, Theology, Apologetics, Christian Living, Philosophy, and Contemporary Science/Free Will/Time. Then, there are numerous subcategories for each of these. He even provides a rating based on the reading difficulty for each book from one to four.

I’m grateful that my book Redeeming Pleasure made this list. In case you can’t find it, it’s in the Theology: Ethics category. It’s rated at a 1 so don’t be scared!

We all have views about God and how to interact with Him. But are your views growing and being challenged? If you can’t easily answer yes to that, I’d recommend you consider spending some time in 2016 growing in your faith in this way.

Click here to check out the list.

Interview for Seminary Dropout

Interview for Seminary Dropout

Recently I had the chance to do an interview with Shane Blackshear about my book Redeeming Pleasure. Shane runs an incredible podcasting site called Seminary Dropout and has built an impressive “who’s who” catalogue of Christian thought leaders (just read through the names of previous interviews on the right side of his site).

As a case in point, the interview before me was with Max Lucado. In the small chance you’re not familiar with Max, he’s currently approaching his 100th book written and has more than 92 million copies in print. So I’m not sure how I managed to get included on that list but I had a great time talking about my book with Shane. I’m still working on selling my first million, which of course they say is the hardest…

Click here to go to his page and listen to the interview.