Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two Good Little Books

After voyaging (and often slogging) through vast theology books in seminary, I now find it very refreshing to read relatively short, simple, straightforward books. I enjoy direct, everyday speech like people ordinarily use. When I sense that the author is having a conversation with me, I know I am going to like the book. I've recently read two books like this.

Living the Cross Centered Life, by C. J. Mahaney, is a fun book that focuses on the meaning of the gospel and how we are to live it out. Mahaney repeatedly makes the point that we should never get over the wonder of the gospel. He stresses that this should be the primary message of the church. Based on reading just one book of his, I can see that Mahaney is a down-to-earth man who has never gotten over how amazing it is that God has saved him. He gives examples from his own life before and after he was saved to illustrate this point.

Some books discuss the gospel as if it were just about something that took place 2000 years ago. The authors somehow manage to reduce the glorious message of Christ's saving grace to just a few theological constructs. Not so Mahaney. This book reads like a conversation. As you read it, you will feel like you are sitting down with him, drinking coffee, and talking about what sinners we are and what a merciful Savior we have.

This book will encourage and inspire you to take a fresh look at the gospel.

Speaking of the gospel, the second book I recently finished is entitled The Gospel & Personal Evangelism, by Mark Dever. As an author, Dever is primarily known for writing various books on church polity and church health. However, in this text he deals with what the title says - the gospel and evangelism. He tackles various questions such as "What is the Gospel?" "How should we evangelize?" "What should we do after we evangelize" and "Why should we evangelize?"

Like Mahaney's book, Dever writes as if he is having a conversation with the reader. Using examples from his life as an agnostic and as a Christian, he discusses reasons that we don't evangelize and encourages us to do so.

This book would be good for any Christian to read. It is simple, biblically-driven, and easy to get through. Warning: it will challenge you to look at your own practice of evangelism. It is convicting to hear Dever explain evangelism as something that ought to be a regular part of our lives instead of a practice we do at a certain time of the week.

I just realized that these two authors are also two of the four founders of Together for the Gospel. Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan are the others. I also see that Mohler wrote the forward to Mahaney's book, and Mahaney wrote the forward to Dever's book.

On a related note, take a look at this. Piper's Swans are Not Silent series is excellent.


Jason Fisher said...

Always looking for good books thanks for the tip, I am already a fan of both authors from some of their other work.

I think this is the first time I have posted a comment here but I have been reading for a while and just wanted to say "Keep it up"


Eric said...


Thanks for commenting and for the encouragement. As for these authors, I really like Dever a lot. In fact, I'm currently reading "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church." On my bookshelf waiting to be read is "Twelve Challenges Churches Face" or something close to that. Either way, Dever has a lot of good things to say about the church.