Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunday School Reading - June 21, 2009

I apologize for how late the recommendations are this week. Unfortunately one of the difficulties of church and culture is that there just isn't one good book out there that I think summarizes this subject well. According I'm going to recommend a number of different books that I'm pulling some of this material from and try to list why I think each is helpful.
  • Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures by Herman Ridderbos - This short book outlines the basis for why the church accepts the 27 New Testament books as canonical. Ridderbos stresses that it is the progression of redemptive history that leads to a New Testament canon. One of the things that he deals with that relates strongly to church and culture is the Sermon on the Mount. Ridderbos describes the meaning of the Sermon in redemptive history and also compares it to relevant passages about the state like Romans 13.
  • The Coming of the Kingdom by Herman Ridderbos - Again, the important part of this book for church and culture is Ridderbos' sensitivity to redemptive history. This is particularly apt as Ridderbos explains how the kingdom is present in Jesus' person and teaching, in his accomplishment of redemption, and still to come with his return. His explanation of the nature of the kingdom of God applies to church and culture.
  • Essays on Religion, Science, and Society by Herman Bavinck - This book was written near the end of Bavinck's career. It works out Bavinck's theology in a number of different areas and particularly applies Reformed theology to cultural issues.
  • Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper - Kuyper was a theologian who was also heavily involved in social issues, even to the point of serving as Prime Minister of the Netherlands (Bavinck also served in the National Congress). These lectures were given at Princeton Theological Seminary in the beginning of the 20th century. Kuyper shows that Calvinist theology is not just a system of doctrines but that it is a whole worldview with implications for politics, art, science, and religion. You can probably find this online for free due to copyrights expiring. This is probably the most important item on this list to read.
  • The Philosophy of Revelation by Herman Bavinck - Bavinck delivered the Stone Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary the year after Kuyper did and these are nearly as valuable thought not nearly as well known. Bavinck demonstrates that revelation is the presupposition for all human activity and then works out the implications of that fact.
  • Christ and Culture Revisited by D.A. Carson - While this book does not set forth many conclusions about Christ and Culture it is important to read for the purposes of understanding past debates, particularly Niebuhr's work, and dealing with the biblical theological issues at stake. There is a section in there on postmodernism that is also helpful.
  • The Kingdom and the Church by Geerhardus Vos - Vos here applies the nature of the kingdom as God's kingly self-assertion in time and history. One of the applications is what this means to the various spheres in culture. I think that Vos discussion in this chapter is invaluable.
  • Discussions of Robert Lewis Dabney - Because of the cost I don't expect that anyone actually wants to purchase this. But the Southern Presbyterians did write a number of helpful things on the relationship of church and culture. I would be happy to recommend some of the articles if anyone sends me a message. The three volume Banner of Truth compilation of Dabney's writings also contains a number of these articles and this is available in the church library.
  • The Complete Writings of James Henley Thornwell - Like with Dabney, the cost will likely keep many people from buying this. But I would be happy to recommend some articles upon request. In particular his article, "The Regulative Principle Applied to Church Government" is helpful.

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