The Reading List (I Get High with a Little Help from My Books)

Somehow, these last few months, I have turned into a complete theology/church book junkie.  I mean, I’ve always picked up a few books every month, but this is different–I feel like a tweaker in a meth lab…cause it’s like I want to read them ALL SIMULTANEOUSLY!  Each one seems so incredibly necessary to think through in my current state of mind (which I’m planning on writing about soon).

Anyhow, some friends had asked for me to let them know what I was reading & so I thought I’d kill two birds single-stonedly by describing/potentially recommending some of the titles here on Lost In the Cloud (for it is a rather theological kind of a cloud we’re lost in here).  If any of you would like to read concurrently with me & discuss in some fashion (coffee house, email, Skype), I’d be happy to have a dialogue partner. Simply comment or email me at greg.stump22 (at) gmail.com…

The Sacredness of Questioning Everything (David Dark):  The title alone pretty much sums up the theological state I am in (not at all in a “does God exist” sort of way, but rather a “what exactly do I believe about almost every secondary & tertiary theological issue imaginable” sense) and Dark’s talk of “redemptive skepticism” and critique of “imagined infallibility” will be stimulating for anyone feeling trapped in insular non-conversations in their Christian institutions.  It also doesn’t hurt that he has an extended analysis of an Arcade Fire song & highlights the way that comedy news (Stewart/Colbert) seems more acute and honest (in its satire) than most “real” journalism today.

The Blue Parakeet (Scot McKnight):  A quote on the back is something many of you may have heard me say years ago:  “What if I’m too conservative to be liberal, and too liberal to be conservative?”  This is a no man’s land that I have often found myself wandering in, feeling alone at first but then bumping into others who’ve strayed from their front lines as well.  In short, McKnight is proposing an alternative to the know-it-all fundamentalist or the weightless, naive liberal in terms of approaching scripture.  It’s probably not as radical as it sounds, but I’m interested.

Embodying Our Faith (Tim Morey):  I took a class with Tim during a Talbot summer session a couple years back called “Disciplemaking in a Postmodern Context” and that is just what this amazing guy does as the pastor of Life Covenant Church in the South Bay area and in his role as a coach to church planters.  His book sees the necessity of faith to be “experiential, communal, and enacted” in the church and I am highly anticipating the kind of rewarding a-ha moments from reading it that I experienced in his course.

Organic Church (Neil Cole):  I’m actually attending the church that meets at Neil’s home on a regular basis, where he graciously gave me a copy of this seminal work on the contemporary disciple/leader/church multiplication movement. He is pretty much dialed in to everyone leading out in the house church/simple church/organic church effort & this book is making a ton of sense to me philosophically.  I went to a conference Neil’s organization put on about “missional movements” where I picked up a book by the other speaker entitled:

Exiles (Michael Frost):  This man inspired me as I’ve not felt in many years.  Brilliant Aussie thinker/seminary prof/missional church practitioner who also co-wrote a foundational book, The Shaping of Things to Come.  I have not read one sentence yet, but if it’s a tenth as good as his talk, I will profoundly benefit.  I’m reading this with the inimitable Andrew Faris.

Deep Church (Jim Belcher):  “A third way (of being the church) beyond emerging and traditional.”  My good friend Pat Saia is reading this for his Doctorate of Ministry program at Fuller, so I’m looking forward to more conversations at the La Mirada Civic Center flame on the ideas in this book.

The Courage to Be Protestant (David Wells) & Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion (Kevin DeYount & Ted Kluck):  In contrast to all these angry-young-Christian, “let’s set fire to the way things are” types, my dear friend (and to be honest, mentor) Matt Rouse purchased these two swimming-against-the-postmodern-Christian-stream books for me to read and dialogue on.  This is exactly the kind of thing a rouge (self-proclaimed) like myself needs to maintain an open ear/mind to in the midst of my tradition-agnosticism.  I love Matt for challenging me and look forward to learning from these authors…while probably also having a hard time swallowing both their ideas and my pride in the process.

The next layer includes:

  • Evangelical Futures (ed. John Stackhouse)
  • The Lost World of Genesis One (John Walton)
  • The Tangible Kingdom (Hugh Halter and Matt Smay)
  • Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts & Interpret Trends (ed. Kevin Vanhoozer)
  • Who Can Be Saved? (Terrance Tiessen)
  • Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology (ed. Stanley Gundry and Gary Meadors)

The most important book I am currently reading is Reformed and Always Reforming by one of my theological heroes, Roger Olson (who incidentally looks like a total nerd on his book jacket).  But this book will need a post of it’s own, soon to follow.  Let me know if you’re interested in reading any of these together…cause the first one is always free.

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4 responses to “The Reading List (I Get High with a Little Help from My Books)”

  1. Matt Rouse says :

    Ahhhh, shucks Greg. Looking forward to some good dialog. I appreciate it when you challenge me with “is this your tradition Matt or is something different taught in the Bible”? It is good accountability for me.

  2. Greg says :

    PS I am still reading the Bible itself. Forthcoming post about this…

    Some of you might have wondered.

  3. Leslie says :

    Greg,
    Very cool that you got to hear Michael Frost speak. If you’re interested, I’ve uploaded a number of MP3s from a conference he spoke at in Cooma, Australia a few years back:

    http://nesbittphotography.com/music/frost/

    Send me an email about Organic Church!

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