I don’t always do themed reading, but when I do, it’s either Advent or Lent. This year, I focused my reading activities on books related to the person of Christ for Advent. In the spring, I’ll most likely do the same for Lent (working on my Amazon cart right now). I’ve actually covered a bit more ground than the books pictured, but these were (and currently are) the key ones that I’ve been reading.
I actually haven’t started this one by Kathryn Tanner yet. I kept seeing it show up in footnote after footnote of other books I was reading, and finally decided to get it in my queue. It’s part of the Current Issues in Theology series by Cambridge University Press. Having already grabbed another title in that series (Webster’s Holy Scripture), I might be adding Oliver Crisp’s entry soon (see below). As we’re less than a week away from Christmas, I’ll have my work cut out with this one (especially because the chapters are long-ish and there are no headings).
I’ve been on an Oliver Crisp binge lately, having read this one along with Saving Calvinism (review soon), Jonathan Edwards Among The Theologians, and currently finishing Deviant Calvinism. Some of the work in this one is not new to Crisp’s prolific writings, but since it was one of the first books I’ve read from him, it was new to me. Of the 9 chapters, only chapters 2 and 9 are mostly new. Everything else was either originally published elsewhere, or is a newer iteration of something published elsewhere. Many of the themes are extensions of groundwork laid in his book that I mentioned above in the Cambridge series (it appears in the footnotes frequently). But, given the price of the some of the other published works, this is a great way to get a feel for Crisp’s writing (which is quite enjoyable and thought provoking) For those keeping up with current discussion in evangelical theology, this is not one to miss. Case in point, the first chapter is “The Eternal Generation of the Son.” Elsewhere, I was intrigued by the essay on compositional Christology (chapter 6), as well as the one on understanding the image of God in light of Christ (chapter 4).
This one is quite a bit older than the others (by about 20 years). However, it comes from a very solid series, Contours of Christian Theology, and is written by Donald Macleod. I’ve benefited from reading the entries in this series, and although it was never completed, it is worth the investment if you can get your hands on it. In some ways, these books have already stood the test of time. They are meant to give the reader a good grounding the in the basics of each doctrine they highlight and because of that, deal with key issues that remain issues even now. Again, if you’ve been aware of the discussion about the eternal generation of the son, there’s a whole chapter in here dealing with that subject and providing much theological wisdom for the debate. If you haven’t already, I might make it my aim to work my way through each title in this series.
Because I enjoyed One With Christ so much, I decided to buy the follow up by Marcus Peter Johnson (co-authored with John C. Clark). This book has a bit of a systematic flow to it, starting with chapters on the knowledge of God and the attributes of God, moving to anthropology, hamartiology, atonement, union, and ecclesiology. The final chapter is perhaps the most intriguing as it ties the meaning of the incarnation sketches in the book so far, to our understanding of marriage and sex. In doing so, it provides a well reasoned theological account of why the Christian view of sex and marriage is a traditional one. Wasn’t particularly expecting that turn when I got the book, but caps off a nice little volume that systematically shows how the incarnation affects everything in theology.
I’m not quite done with this latest volume in the Foundations of Evangelical Theology series, but so far it has been solid. This is another series of individual systematic volumes that I would recommend as it complements the Contours series already mentioned. In this one, there is a bit more emphasis on epistemological issues (and even an entire volume on it), as well as a wider treatment of the particular doctrine. Stephen Wellum’s first section of the book covers those epistemological bases, before his second section tackles the biblical witness and provides a biblical theology of the person of Christ. In the third section, Wellum takes readers on a tour of the historical discussions, moving from Nicaea, to Chalcedon, and beyond. The final section then turns to contemporary challenges, particularly kenoticism, which takes up four chapters. I’m just pushing out of that into the home stretch and will finish up this fine volume later in the week as Christmas comes upon us. [UPDATE: I should have mentioned that I was able to read this book because Crossway generously sent me a review copy]