Tag Archives: institutes of the christian religion

On the Bookshelf XXII

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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Faulkner dubbed it the “the best novel ever written”, and I can see where he’s coming from. Until now, my only experience with Tolstoy had been The Death of Ivan Ilych, which I enjoyed but wasn’t blown away by. But this book… wow. Just wow. Leave it to a Russian with a epic beard to write something this fantastic.
Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
“In this final volume of The Border Trilogy, two men marked by the boyhood adventures of All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing now stand together, in the still point between their vivid pasts and uncertain futures, to confront a country changing or already changed beyond recognition.” McCarthy has yet to disappoint me. I don’t know how the story will end, but I know it will be magnificent.
Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. II by John Calvin
One down, one to go. And Calvin is being a boss, as usual.
Wool by Hugh Howey
YES. FINALLY. I’ve been aching to get my hands on this one since last year. I love the story behind it: Howey wrote it while working as a bookseller, writing faithfully each morning and during every lunch break for nearly three years. He self-published in 2011, and the book has since become an underground hit (Ridley Scott has even purchased the film rights). So yeah: I’m only slightly excited to see what all the buzz is about.
Her Hand in Marriage by Douglas Wilson
Something tells me this is gonna be a really, really good read: “The modern dating system is bankrupt. It does not train young people to form a relationship but rather to form a series of relationships, hardening themselves to all but the current one… Biblical courtship is a humble affront to the sterility of modern relationships. And as a new generation rejoices in this ancient wisdom, the current waves of broken relationships will begin to recede.”
In Defense of Sanity edited by Ahlquist, Pearce, & Mackey
It’s a collection of essays by G.K. Chesterton. And it’s awesome (duh). What more do want to know?
Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck
From J.I. Packer: “Two young men, a pastor and a layman, here critique the criticisms of the institutional church that are fashionable today. Bible-centered, God-centered, and demonstrably mature, they win the argument hands down. As I read, I wanted to stand up and cheer.” While we’re on the subject, I’d like to recommend the other book these guys wrote, Why We’re Not Emergent. Seriously. Go read it. They make a terrific team.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

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Content With This One Thing

“Thus it is that we may pass through this life with its misery, hunger, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other troubles – content with this one thing: that our King will never leave us destitute, but will provide for our needs until, our warfare ended, we are called to triumph. Such is the nature of his rule, that he shares with us all that he has received from the Father. Now he arms and equips us with his power, adorns us with his beauty and magnificence, enriches us with his wealth. These benefits, then, give us the most fruitful occasion to glory, and also provide us with confidence to struggle fearlessly against the devil, sin, and death. Finally, clothed in his righteousness, we can valiantly rise above all the world’s reproaches; and just as he himself freely lavishes his gifts upon us, so may we, in return, bring forth fruit to his glory.”

– Calvin, Institutes (p. 499)

Don’t You Love It When That Happens?

Douglas Wilson shared a timely observation on Facebook this morning:

Without the evangelical center, attempts at reform are like assigning a personal trainer to every corpse, in order to escort it to the gym.

Reading in the Institutes this afternoon, I see Calvin had the same thing in mind:

Surely the first foundation of righteousness is the worship of God. When this is overthrown, all the remaining parts of righteousness, like the pieces of a shattered and fallen building, are mangled and scattered. What kind of righteousness will you call it not to harass men with theft and plundering, if through impious sacrilege you at the same time deprive God’s majesty of its glory? Or that you do not defile your body with fornication, if with your blasphemies you profane God’s most holy name? Or that you do not slay a man, if you strive to kill and to quench the remembrance of God? It is vain to cry up righteousness without religion. This is as unreasonable  as to display a mutilated , decapitated body as something beautiful. Not only is religion the chief part but the very soul, whereby the whole breathes and thrives. And apart from fear of God men do not preserve equity and love among themselves. Therefore we call the worship of God the beginning and foundation of righteousness. When it is removed, whatever equity, continence, or temperance men practice among themselves is in God’s sight empty and worthless.

Don’t you love it when that happens?

On the Bookshelf XIV

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One Shot by Lee Child
This is actually the ninth Jack Reacher book, but I’ve been told it’s one of the best, and serves as a good introduction to the character. It’s excellent so far: better-than-average writing, smart storytelling, and a very cool protagonist in Mr. Reacher. I’ll be interested to see how the recent film adaption compares.
Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
“The pious mind does not dream up for itself any god it pleases, but contemplates the one and only true God. And it does not attach to him whatever it pleases, but is content to hold him to be as he manifests himself.” Currently number one contender for best non-fiction book I will read in 2013. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s only January. But still… I’ll be surprised if anything tops it.
The Creedal Imperative by Carl Trueman
I love this guy. Thirty five pages in, and I’ve already lost count of the passages I’ve highlighted. Terrific, terrific stuff. C.J. Mahaney’s endorsement is spot-on: “If the title of this book sounds boring to you, then it probably means you need it!”
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Famous Tales by R.L. Stevenson
I’ve already read Jekyll and Hyde, so my focus is on the “other famous tales.” The Suicide Club sounds especially interesting. C’mon… you can’t tell me the title doesn’t intrigue you.
How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stewart
“Understanding the Bible isn’t for the few, the gifted, the scholarly. The Bible is accessible. It’s meant to be read and comprehended by everyone from armchair readers to seminary students.” Very good so far, though I remain unimpressed by Fee’s arguments against using the KJV for study.

What’s on your bookshelf right now?