I Am Not Normal
I love to read. I have been doing it for years. I cannot claim to read with pen in hand in the way Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) did so many years ago. Edwards puts me to shame. But I do love to read whether it be the printed page, on my tablet, phone, notebook, or desktop. I love to read different kinds of things: systematic theology, biblical theology and exegesis, apologetics, analytical theology and other forms of philosophical theology, church history and historical theology, practical theology, political theory, political and military history, philosophy, science, contemporary events, and sometimes novels and other kinds of literature. When I was a kid I even used to read Mad, Crazy, and Cracked Magazines! I also used to read American Heritage, Civil War Times Illustrated, American History Illustrated, and British History Illustrated. I made time for Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, and National Geographic. I used to read all these kinds of things and more while listening to Elvis Presley and other early rockers and country music. I have even been known to read about my favorite singers and music. I used to walk to the public library in the days before the world wide web to read the latest issue of Billboard magazine to check on the most recent rankings of albums and singles on various charts. All of this is to tell you I am not normal. Like Al Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I have been a bibliophile for as long as I can remember.
All of this is to say that I enjoy reading a lot. If left to myself I would rather read a good book than do almost anything else. Of course I am hardly ever left to myself these days. I have a beautiful wife and two wonderful adult daughters. We have a dog. I work out at the gym (yes, I do!) and I enjoy walking too. My great joy and privilege is serving the Lord Jesus Christ in his church by preaching and teaching and counseling and providing governance of his church with my fellow ministers and elders. Reading is a prerequisite for pretty much all that I do. Recently I have been reading to members of my congregation during visitation. This has been a blessing to me and for those to whom I read. It keeps the mind active and it blesses and strengthens our spirits.
A New Blog Series
It occurred to me that it might be enjoyable to invite you all along with me as I journey through various books and journal/magazine articles. I am not looking to write reviews per se. I do that elsewhere, and even here at the Reformed Forum site. I have in mind a series in which I critically interact with what I read and display my thought processes. The series is called Criterion. The name was provided by Cris Dickason, my friend and fellow presbyter of the OPC’s Presbytery of Philadelphia.
Given the current Trinitarian controversy raging in Reformed complementarian circles, I thought I might begin this series with two substantial books on the topic by Patristics expert Lewis Ayres. In a post I wrote for Reformation21 I recommended these books. The first deals with the development of Pro-Nicene theology and is called Nicaea and Its Legacy published by Oxford University Press in 2006. This is a fairly dense and thorough study of the theological development of Trinitarian theology leading into and coming out of the council of Nicaea (AD 325) with its emphasis on the co-equal nature of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The second related book is Augustine and the Trinity published by Cambridge University Press in 2014. Augustine is credited with creating the so-called “psychological model” of the Trinity that has figured so significantly in Trinitarian theological development in the western church.
My purposes in starting with these two books are to introduce some of you to (1) excellent historical and theological literature; (2) to get us to wrestle with significant material in the Patristic (i.e., early church fathers) writings. I recommend we read the church fathers through the lens of the Reformers as Baptist church historian Michael Haykin has suggested in his little volume Rediscovering the Church Fathers. (3) I also want us to ascertain a sound methodology for reading with understanding. As Christians we read the Bible and all other literature under the supervision of the Holy Spirit. We need to read conscious of this reality and our dependence upon the Triune God for all our reading. Finally, (4) I want us to develop the ability to think Christianly and theologically.
My goal is to post a blog entry at least once a week. Mark this and hold my toes to the fire. I look forward to our reading journey together.