Interested in a great read? Want to learn more about your faith and explore the important issues of our day and age? Check out these suggestions hand-picked by the GFBC ministerial staff for this year. Copies of all these are available in the Media Center and for purchase online.
1. Organizing Church by Tim Conder and Dan Rhodes
This book is the product of Conder’s and Rhodes’s organizing work as ministers rooted in local communities. It explains the importance of talking about power and developing a healthy theology of power for the church. It also describes the process of the relationship meeting, and how it can help the church break through it’s partisan gridlock and learn how to better love our neighbors through our actions in the world. This book is vitally important for the church in 2017, as we work to move past partisanship towards a place where are loyalties are dictated by our relationships with our neighbors and not on our ideological commitments. Tim is co-pastor of the Emmaus Way church in Durham and Dan was formally on staff there as well. Dan is now on faculty at Loyola University in Chicago.
2. Free for All: Rediscovering the Bible in Community by Tim Conder and Dan Rhodes
Free for All lays out a way of reading Scripture in community that has the potentially to radically transform what the Bible means in our lives. The book first explains why biblical interpretation sometimes gets locked in by the biases and lenses we bring to it. It then includes transcriptions of conversations that their church had about four types of biblical passages and moves into how interpreting Scripture in this way intersects with our lives.
3. The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why by Phyllis Tickle
This is Phyllis Tickle’s influential book describing the periods of the church’s life and helping us to understand that the place the church is in now is not a negative to be feared but a possibility to be embraced. For those looking for the opportunity and potential of our time, this book is a great place to start.
4. Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God by Brian Zahnd
This is progressive evangelical pastor Brian Zahnd’s response to Jonathan Edwards’ classic sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Zahnd takes on the picture of God as a wrathful God of vengeance and paints a compelling picture of the God of mercy and love that in more in line with the gospel of Jesus. If you’ve ever wondered how to reconcile all the talk in the Bible about wrath and violence with a loving God, read this book.
5. What is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything by Rob Bell
Rob Bell’s new book features his engaging communication style and is helpful for people who need to re-engage with Scripture as the complex, inspired, and fascinating collection of human experience with the divine that it is. Bell is uniquely gifted at reinterpreting the Bible and faith for people who have a difficult time with church, and reigniting a passion for understanding and experiencing God.
6. Getting Involved With God: Rediscovering the Old Testament by Ellen Davis
Ellen Davis is one of the foremost Christian scholars of the Hebrew scriptures and this book is an accessible collection of essays on difficult and well-known passages in the Old Testament and how they reveal a God who wants to be in relationship with us. One of the most asked questions about the Bible is: how are we supposed to interpret difficult passages in the Old Testament? If you’ve ever asked that question, Davis’ book is a great starting place.
7. Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by Kelly Brown Douglas
Kelly Brown Douglas is a black feminist theologian who writes incisive and challenging books about race and Christianity. This book examines the murder of Trayvon Martin and America’s “stand your ground” laws and how they are unfaithful to the gospel and reveal a country that devalues black bodies.
8. Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating by Norman Wirzba
In this book, Norman Wirzba engages the relationship between food and faith, an often overlooked aspect of our lives, but one about which Scripture has a lot to say. As we emphasize Spirituality in the home and holy friendship this year at GFBC, it will be important to think through how we view the relationship between food and faith.
9. Jesus Is My Uncle: Christology from a Hispanic Perspective by Luis G. Pedraja
This book is an introduction to encountering Jesus from a Hispanic perspective. If you are interested in better understanding our neighbors who are Spanish-speaking Christians, or just expanding your own understanding of faith beyond your current cultural experience, this book is for you!
10. Gift and Task: A Year of Daily Readings and Reflections by Walter Brueggemann
If you are looking for a daily devotional this year, we highly recommend this new one by Old Testament theologian, Walter Brueggemann. Brueggemann has an incredible biblical understanding and an incisive writing style that will usher you into God’s presence each day and leave you challenged to walk more closely with God. One of the strengths of this devotional is that it is organized around the church year so the first devotion is for the first Sunday of Advent, December 3. Reading through and praying with a daily devotional is a great way to continue our emphasis on spirituality in the home as well!
Rev. Stacks, Rev. Efird, and Rev. Spears-Newsome