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Monday, 26 August 2013

Enlarging our world through reading

One way to enlarge your world is through reading. And reading writers outside of your tribe, often very different thinkers - people you may disagree with on some things and even many things, but who you can nevertheless learn something from. I have read many books from my tribe of Pentecostal-charismatics over the years - and many different families within that tribe - but in recent years I have also read material from conservative evangelicals, emergent church leaders, faith teachers, classic and progressive Pentecostals, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Lutheran theologians etc. I have enjoyed this wide reading and benefited greatly. I don't agree with them all - in fact, some I passionately disagree with on some things - but that's OK, because only reading people you agree with in order to reinforce what you already believe is exactly what perpetuates tribalism.

Of course I recognize that not everybody has the inclination or the time to do lots of book reading, but there are other ways of engaging with thinkers from other tribes - blogs, websites, youtube, audio downloads etc. I also recognise that in our busy lives we must prioritise our time toward what God has called us to, and to existing God-given connections. There is a danger of losing focus, and achieving breadth at the expense of depth. But enlarging our world can actually contribute to the depth if it causes us to think through what we believe more carefully; and you can be led to new God-given connections as you enlarge your world.

So here's a list of people I've read, engaged with and learned from in the last couple of years. Please note that I am not claiming to have read whole books by all these writers; some I have only dipped into (all are Christians of different tribes, and there is one Jewish rabbi). In a world of blogs, online articles, Google previews and Kindle samples etc. - it is so much easier to at least get a taster of what others are thinking.Why not google one of these names that you have not heard of, or heard of only vaguely, and see if they enlarge your world. And if anyone wants to recommend to me some writers who have challenged and enlarged their thinking (as opposed to just reinforcing what you already believe), please do so - especially female writers who I think are under-represented in the Christian world, but that might be just because my world is still too small. I'd also love to hear your thoughts on any writer from the list you do engage with:

Bill Johnson, Danny Silk, Kris Vallotton, Greg Boyd, Dallas Willard, Peter Scazzero, Roger Olson, Ann Voskamp, Brennan Manning, Frank Viola, Jurgen Moltmann, Hans Kung, N.T Wright, C S Lewis, George MacDonald, Scott Mcknight, Tim Keller, T Austin Sparks, Brian McClaren, Rob Bell, Rachel Held Evans, Christina Cleveland, Don Miller, Steve Uppal, Paul Scanlon, Stephen Matthew, Richard Foster, Steve Backlund, Andrew Wommack, Miroslav Volf, Amos Yong, David Bentley Hart, Richard Rohr, Jonathan Sacks, Graham Cooke,Paul Tripp, Gordon MacDonald, Ben Witherington, William Paul Young, C. Baxter Kruger, Henri Nouwen, Andrew Wilson. 

9 comments:

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  2. Totally agree Trevor. I'm about halfway through this book by a Catholic scholar

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jesus-Jewish-Roots-Eucharist-Unlocking/dp/B00C6ORPNS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1377548641&sr=8-2&keywords=pitre+eucharist

    Some great unveiling of the OT types and shadows of the New Covenant Meal. I don't think I'm going to be persuaded into transubstantiation though!

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    1. Great to hear from you, Matthew. I can't seem to get a sample of this book but I am looking at the website of the author now. With you on transubstantiation.

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    2. Preview here:

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jesus-Jewish-Roots-Eucharist-Unlocking/dp/0385531842/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377549457&sr=8-1&keywords=pitre+eucharist

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  3. Samuel Escobar, 'A Time For Mission', http://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Mission-Re-issue-Samuel-Escobar/dp/184474549X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377596431&sr=8-1&keywords=samuel+escobar

    Hannah Mudge, Christian feminist, various blogs: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/hannah-mudge

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    1. Thanks for that, Ralph. Looking up both links.

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  4. A mammoth list of authors. I'm guessing a lot went into your Masters thesis ( I'd love to read it some day). I'm wondering if there's something about having value for authors less because they're from an allowed list or an acceptable tribe, and perhaps not even because they're from another Christian tradition but because as a human being, they're made in the image of God. Our ideal must be to be made in God's image, to be indwelt by His spirit, to have the mind of Christ and to be anointed and inspired by Holy Spirit. And one out of four is a start. How much wisdom and divine creativity do we miss by struggling to value authors primarily as people all made in God's image.

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    1. I only dipped into some of them, John. If I'd included some form my MA course, there'd have been a lot more. You are quite right though - I have also learned from writers who were not Christian; all truth is God's truth, and you are right some have wisdom and insight simply because they use their God-given faculties as those mad in His image.

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