For those wanting an entry way into the church fathers, Bryan Litfin is an able guide with his Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Brazos, 2007), with ten chapters on ten of the key fathers. Litfin’s summaries are helpful, and his guides for continued reading are spot on.
Though there are a number of good “New Testament Theologies” in print (Ladd, Marshall, Thielman, among others), Tom Schreiner ’s New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Baker, 2008) would be an excellent volume for anyone wanting insight into the New Testament. Teachers of Bible and history might also enjoy the recently published The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of the New Testament Within its Cultural Contexts, by Gary M. Burge, Lynn H. Cohick, and Gene L. Green (Zondervan, 2009). An introduction to the New Testament for college students, with an eye to historical and cultural backgrounds, beautifully done with excellent pictures, this would be a helpful resource for faculty.
The essays in Bruce L. McCormack [ed.]’s, Engaging the Doctrine of God: Contemporary Protestant Perspectives (Baker, 2008) are the published papers from the 2005 Dogmatics Conference at Rutherford House (Edinburgh, Scotland). The essays are uniformly good, but if you have to choose, don’t skip French theologian Henri Blocher’s chapter, “God and the Cross.”
John Frame, who teaches philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, continues to write and publish, and the latest volume in his “A Theology Lordship” series is The Doctrine of the Christian Life (P&R, 2008). In this 1000+ page volume, Frame offers his own vision and understanding of Christian ethics. Almost half of the volume focuses on the Ten Commandments, and educators will likely be interested in part five, “Christ and Culture.”
Folks had told me for a long time that I had to read Cormac McCarthy. His latest, The Road (Vintage International, 2006) is an apocalyptic “thriller” without the superfluous fight and chase scenes, though replete with suspense. But it is ultimately a story of the love between a father and his son, and when the son asks “Are we still the good guys?” and the father answers “Yes”—you believe him.
If you have never read the fiction of Michael O’Brien, reading his latest novel, Island of the World (Ignatius, 2007) will likely result in additional O’Brien purchases. Set in a World War II Europe, this is a moving and memorable story of faith and su ering and perseverance. Other novels (all with Ignatius) by O’Brien include Plague Journal, Sophia House, Father El ah, Strangers and Sojourners, A Cry of Stone, and Eclipse of the Sun. Of interest to all educators, he has also a book on children’s literature, A Landscape with Dragons: The Ba le for Your Child’s Mind (Ignatius, 1998), in which he suggests that much of contemporary children’s literature offers a confused portrayal of good and evil, thus marring a child’s ability to discern good and evil.
Politics and Current Issues
If one enjoys conservative commentary and perspective, one will undoubtedly enjoy The Politically Incorrect Guide to . . . series. Published by Regnery Publishing, this series seeks to offer basic introductions—generally of a provocative sort—to any number of current issues and fields of study. All volumes are written by established scholars in their various fields. Volumes include The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, . . . the Constitution, . . . Global Warming, . . . Science, and on and on!
Everyone should be concerned about America’s financial and economic situation. If you are looking for a succinct introduction to these issues, perhaps the best thing around is Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2009). Sum: federal control and “takeovers” will not solve problems caused by federal control in the first place. Both Republicans and Democrats beware.
Liberty Fund is another publisher that all educators should be aware of. Among their many titles, they publish a two volume set of primary sources that would be of value in any high school. Bruce Frohnen has edited both volumes, The American Republic: Primary Sources (2002), which covers U.S. history up through the War Between the States, and The American Nation: Primary Sources (2009), which continues up through America’s entry into World War II. And while we are speaking of Liberty Fund, Ted J. Smith, III edited In Defense of Tradition: Collected Shorter Writings of Richard M. Weaver, 1929-1963 (Liberty Fund, 2001). Weaver’s writings on education, logic, and rhetoric are priceless, and should be read by every educator wrestling with the nature of the liberal arts, and how they might be applied today.
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute publishes some of the nest books around, and if you do not receive their catalog, you might consider doing so (www.isi.org). They have recently published The Wreck of Western Culture: Humanism Revisited (ISI, 2008). Like Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present, Carroll’s study covers the last 500 years of western culture. Carroll suggests that humanism—to the extent that it did not give a ention to the necessity of theological and religious realities—cannot be meaningfully sustained.
In a somewhat similar category, Michael Allen Gillespie of Duke University has written The Theological Origins of Modernity (The University of Chicago Press, 2008). Gillespie posits that modernity is one long attempt to work through the questions of (and relations of) God, man and the world—once “nominalism” is victorious over “realism.” Worth careful reading, but Gillespie is stuck because he cannot construe how divine omnipotence and meaningful human action can meaningfully co-exist.
Louis Dupre, in his Religion and the Rise of Modern Culture (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009), is also concerned to think through the rise of modernity and the ways in which “religion” and “culture” were ultimately set at odds with each other during and after the Enlightenment.
Certainly there is no end to the writing (and reading) of books.