What Pastor Blair Has Been Reading (April 2023 through June 2023)
Akenson, Donald Harman. A Protestant in Purgatory: Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin. Archon Books: Hamden, CT, 1981.
I have frequently come across Richard Whately’s (1787-1863) name in my studies. He has been considered somewhat of an enigma in history as to what his purposes were when he became archbishop of Dublin for the Church of England. Many wonder if he was a closet evangelical or a latitudinarian of the old school. It is obvious that he cared for the Irish People and was concerned about doing his job well. But Akenson has made a case that Whately was in over his head and most likely NOT an evangelical. If he was, he did not finish well as he got involved with ‘spiritism’ prior to his death. This was a fascinating volume, but probably only important for the niche historian.
Deford, Frank. The Old Ball Game: How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York Giants Created Modern Baseball. Atlantic Monthly Press: New York, 2005.
As soon as Spring hits it makes me think of baseball. Frank Deford was a legendary writer for Sports Illustrated. In this volume, he retraces the friendship of John McGraw and Christy Mathewson and how that affected the game of baseball. But men are considered ‘Giants’ in the game (not just from their mutual team). Mathewson was one of five men voted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame due to his pitching prowess. McGraw followed in the second class due to his managerial skills. Matthewson was the first superstar in Baseball. McGraw was the determined mastermind to lead New York to its first major championship. And no two men were more unlike one another in temperament than these two- and yet they were lifelong friends. The story is wonderful. The writing is even better. I hated for the book to end.
Duguid, Iain. Living In the Gap Between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham. P& R Publishing: Philipsburg, NJ, 2015.
The Gospel According to the Old Testament is a rich series that draws out a full Biblical Theology from the Old Testament. Its purpose is to show how the Old Testament writers anticipate and foreshadow the coming of Jesus. Think more in terms of reading sermons rather than reading a commentary. I have found the series overall to be helpful. And I typically enjoy reading the writings of Old Testament Scholar, Iain Duguid. But I must confess, this particular volume frustrated me. There were numerous times the interpretations were forced to be reflexive of Christ, where I saw none. In many ways, this is an example of how NOT to do exegesis. However, that doesn’t mean that I did not find places where the book was not helpful. The last four chapters of the book were illuminating whereas the first eleven were unclear. The study questions at the end of the chapter were also helpful. But overall, I would be hesitant to recommend this volume.
Gabreski, Francis (with Carl Molesworth), Gabby: A Fighter Pilot’s Life. Dell Books: New York, 1991.
Every year around Memorial Day I try to read a book about American Military History. I think it is fitting to honor our veterans in such a manner to provide real remembrance. I have actually corresponded with Gabreski (nicknamed Gabby). He is America’s highest ace between World War II and the Korean Conflict. Amazingly, he was also a prisoner of war. He was married to the same woman for all of his life and appears to have been a model citizen. I found myself captivated by his narration of going into battle and his interaction with Polish pilots fighting for the Allies.
Johnson, Marshall. The Purpose of Biblical Genealogies (2nd edition). Wipf & Stock Publishers, Eugene, 2002.
Originally, published in 1969, I can see why this work was reproduced over forty years later. It is probably the definitive academic work on Biblical Genealogies. Johnson argues that the Genealogies both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament are intended to convey historical information not just list accurate names. The ultimate goal is to get us to the person of Christ. I found his work to be helpful in my study of genealogies in Genesis. This is not light reading, but it is profitable. Be forewarned, Johnson came from an age when the documentary hypothesis was the prevailing theory in Old Testament studies. While I would disagree with it, it doesn’t mar his conclusions.
Park, Abraham. The Genesis Genealogies: God’s Administration in the History of Redemption. Periplus Editions: Singapore, 2009.
Abraham Park was a Korean Presbyterian Scholar. His work on genealogies reveals why more Western theologians need to read and engage with more Asian theologians. To date, Park has done some of the best work on the genealogies contained in Genesis. He was both conservative and consistent with the Biblical storyline. He is a master of Hebrew and communicates well. I was thoroughly impressed with about three-quarters of the book. But one quarter was not impressive. Too many times Park speculates regarding the meaning of the names in Hebrew. And second, he believes that the long lives of the line of Seth were due explicitly to their righteous living (which again is very speculative but a common thought among Asian culture). But aside from those two issues, I found his arguments for Biblical Theology to be spot on.
Schaeffer, Francis A. Genesis in Space and Time. Intervarsity Press: Downers Grove, 1972.
This is a classic work of the great apologist, Francis Schaeffer. The key argument of the author is that Genesis 1-11 are historic events. Man was created in the image of God as the pinnacle of creation. He and the woman fell. Hence there are two humanities. The seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. And God’s plan of redemption preceded all of this and He is sovereignly in control. Note that Schaeffer refuses to debate the age of the earth (basically stating that it’s impossible to tell based on the linguistics of the Hebrew word for ‘day’). There are a few places where Schaeffer’s language is dated. But the arguments still hold well fifty years later.
Sequeira, Aubrey. Why Is the Lord’s Supper So Important? Crossway: Wheaton, 2021.
This is part of the 9Marks questions series. These are brief books that attempt to answer some of the fundamental questions regarding church practice. Sequeira has done an adequate job covering this particular question. He sees the supper as a meal of remembrance, a meal of unification, and one of nourishment. I particularly like this last category in that the Supper builds our faith (especially from a Baptist perspective). I can highly recommend this little book for those seeking a quick answer as to why Communion is so important to the church.
Tautges, Paul. A Small Book for the Hurting Heart: Meditations on Loss, Grief, and Healing. New Growth Press: Greensboro, 2020.
After I read the Welch book (reviewed below), I picked up this devotional. It operates in the same manner as the other ‘small books’. These are brief daily devotions for Christians struggling with a sense of loss (which can include health, relationships, and jobs as well as being bereaved). I was not familiar with Paul Tautges, but he writes well. He addresses the topic consistently with passages of scripture and offers ‘extra homework’ at the end of each reading. Once again, the strength of this book is to feed the soul when experiencing great loss. The Christian who is enduring such a struggle is usually unable to concentrate adequately. This book meets that need.
Welch, Edward T. A Small Book for the Anxious Heart.: Meditations on Fear, Worry, and Trust. New Growth Press: Greensboro, 2019.
Ed Welch is a renowned teacher and speaker at CCEF. At first, I thought I might be reading a devotional full of clippings from his previous writings. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the book full of fresh new daily devotions. This isn’t to say he hasn’t repeated many of the themes he has written about before. But they all are brand new to the reader and come from a more mature Welch. These 50 devotions are good for someone suffering from depression. Usually, a depressed person has a hard time focusing. These devotions are brief but pack a healthy spiritual punch for each truth they communicate. They give the reader confidence in a God who is in control and that His word is sufficient as a balm in your need.
Winchester, Simon. The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Eccentrics, and Mavericks and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible. HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 2013.
This is my second Winchester book (which was about the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa) and you could not get further from extremes. The author, who is British, seeks to investigate what brought our great nation together from a physical sense rather than an ideological sense. Here he tells the story of Lewis and Clarke with their cartography, the riverways, the railways, the telegraph, the national highway system, and more. He uses a unique device of placing each ‘uniter’ under the category of the five ancient elements of wood, earth, water, fire, and metal. Somehow, he is able to make it work. The reader comes away with a better perspective of what devices played a pivotal role in uniting us as a nation in a very interesting and entertaining manner.