I love books, and love to hear about what other people are reading. Here are the books I finished in April (some I began reading earlier, some I skimmed more than dug in deep). Have you read any good books lately?
Father Mercer: The Story of a Baptist Statesmen, Anthony Chute
A good, brief biography on the great Georgia Baptist patriarch Mercer (1769-1841), who pastored churches in his home state faithfully for decades, compiled a popular hymnal, pioneered Baptist cooperation, education, and missions in the Deep South, edited The Christian Standard newspaper, and generally was in the middle of everything important that happened among Baptists in the south in the early 19th Century. Chute also includes several primary sources from Mercer’s pen.
Adventure in Faith: 300 Years at First Baptist Charleston, Baker and Craven
I re-read the fascinating story of this important church for my research on Oliver Hart, who pastored here from 1750-1780.
The Cross, R.B.C. Howell
Howell was pastor at First Baptist Nashville and something of a Kingpin among Tennessee Baptists in the early-mid nineteenth century. When the Federal Army occupied Nashville during the War Between the States, he was imprisoned for refusing to shift his loyalties, and died shortly after the war. I read this brief series of meditations on the cross and its achievements on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Richard Furman: Life and Legacy, James A. Rogers
Though better known than Oliver Hart because of the South Carolina University that still bears his name, Furman (though certainly great in his own right) in many ways built on the foundation laid by Hart for Baptists in the South. This is a very well-written biography I enjoyed very much.
Turabian, Booth, Colomb, and Williams
This book was assigned to me for a class on research and writing I am taking this fall for the program of study I am entering.
Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, Iain Murray
Good historical study on the changing perception of ‘revival’ in the United States, from the Mid-Eighteenth Century to the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The information in this book is exceedingly important for understanding the American evangelical scene today.
The Craft of Research, Booth, Colomb, Williams
More help on doing research!
Good to Great, Jim Collins (audio)
Characteristically, I listened to this book about ten years after it made its big splash. I think it is the first book on leadership written from a secular perspective I have ever read. Since the church is most certainly not a corporation run by the principles that are perfectly acceptable in the world of business, I don’t spend much time in this genre. So with that qualification, I really enjoyed and benefitted from listening to the findings of how several companies made the leap from good to great results, and sustained them over at least a fifteen-year period. Several of the principles uncovered by Collins’ research could be rooted in Scripture (ie, the leaders of the great companies were self-effacing, not ego-driven; the great companies had a realistic understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, rather than having inflated, unrealistic ideas of what they could do). There were some good take-home points for general life management and (I admit) even some good application points for life in the church.
When People are Big and God is Small, Ed Welch
This is a book about fighting one of my great sins, the fear of man, written by a perceptive biblical counselor. I would recommend it.