#SoulRenewal Reading



I am about to embark on a grand adventure of 14 weeks away from the church I love for an extended time of Sabbatical renewal. Words truly cannot convey the care our family feels at having this opportunity to soak in God’s goodness. I will be on a rhythm of “serve, learn, play” which are 3 of the ways my soul connects with God. We will be traveling for 6 weeks, then home for 8 weeks.

For the “learn” component, one aspect will be some unstructured reading time.  I’ll give a brief annotated bibliography below with links if anyone is interested in grabbing one of these books.  Reading good theologians has been formative in my relationship with God and my outlook on faith. 

From the picture above. Each of these authors have formed my theology over the years and I thought it would be fun to revisit some of their themes, so I won’t be reading these books through, but “brushing up” on their main ideas.

The books above by N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington, Ken Bailey and Walter Brueggemann all focus on biblical theology that emphasizes cultural and historical context. You really can’t go wrong with any of their books and they are among a growing guild of scholars who love the local church and write for it.

Boff, Cone, Grey and Kidwell are all liberation theologians which is a theology formed from powerlessness and oppression rather than from privilege and power. Warning: some of the writing has a militant edge, but as a white middle class man of privilege, I need the constant challenge that Scripture is written from powerlessness and oppression, not from privilege. When I am exposed to theology like this, I see just how much richer the text is than I first see as a white middle class preacher.

Bryant Meyers and Jayakumar Christian are fantastic Urban Development Practitioners from World Vision and wrote some of the most innovative theology of poverty in the 1970s and 1980s when few were talking about it. Authors like these guys have strongly influenced Discovery’s posture of service.

As for new to me books, here is my summer reading list. Feel free to join me on some of this!

Richard Hayes Reading Backwards Hayes is another great scholar for the church and this book shows how the New Testament authors connect Jesus’ teaching and actions to Old Testament prophecies.

Eugene Peterson’s Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians I love the way Peterson thinks and writes. This is his devotional on the life of King David.

Joshua Butler’s The Pursuing God looks fantastic to me. Butler takes some of the typical ways we view God’s displeasure and shows how they are conduits for the grace of God. So for example, it isn’t that God can’t stand the presence of sin, it is that sin can’t stand the presence of God. Looking forward to this one.

Brian Zahn’s Water to Wine is a pastor’s memoir and journey into liturgy and sacrament. I think many of us get restless with the limits of our free church worship expression and are hungering for more colors on our palette.

Richard Rohr’s Eager to Love . Timidly confess that I’ve never read a Richard Rohr book, but him being a Franciscan and having an opportunity to visit Assis this Summer, I’m jumping at the chance to dive into some Rohr. This one is his treatment of St Francis.

Miroslav Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace. Another work I really should have read by now. Volk is Croatian and has the ethnic cleansing of the 1990s in mind as he writes about the power of the gospel and ’embrace as a theological response to the problem of exclusion.’


2 Replies to “#SoulRenewal Reading”

  1. Steve this is beautiful!!!! Your sadness is heavy, like climbing out of water heavy laden with all your soaked clothes on. But the victory over death is clear and loud. I read it through tears, but with joy overflowing my heart. I know John smiled as you remembered the celebration of his life. You sprinkled water on the renewing of my faith. You reached me all the way from Kenya.


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