Monday, April 9, 2007

I'm waiting on some brutal JUnit tests to return, debugging the plumbing of an overdue project. Life is good.

I'm a bit of a reader, and I've occasionally had people ask me about some book or another. Well, no one's asked me in a while, but they really did, once upon a time! So I started thinking "What books would I recommend to someone who wanted to read some classic 'brethren' stuff?" And here's a short list I compiled. A friend and I digitized most of these books at one time, and it's possible I have digital copies lying around on some hard drive or another. If I can find them, I'll make sure they're available online somewhere.

OK, before the list, let me point out that this is probably of no interest to anyone except me. But this is my blog, and even though there are [apparently] a couple people who actually read it, I'm going to selfishly use my blog for my own personal interests.

  1. Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, Vol. 12 Occasionally you hear someone say "I tried to read Darby, but I couldn't get into it" or something like that. As someone who's read a lot of Darby, let me give you this hint: start with Volume 12. Darby's not a great writer (a great thinker, yes, but a terrible writer); but Volume 12 is almost entirely transcripts of his gospel sermons: they're written in something close to plain English. Further, Darby's whole perspective stems from his understanding of God's grace: God's grace is the topic of Volume 12. In fact, it might be the best book written on the subject, period.
  2. The Believer Established, by C. A. Coates. This is CAC's primer on the Christian life, intended for a young person. This book is not perfect, but it is very good. The last chapter gets a little on the "legalistic" side. But all in all, it's an excellent primer on the Christian life.
  3. Lectures on the Church of God, by William Kelly. This is the best summary of "brethren" ecclesiology I have read. An alternate would be S. Ridout's The Church and Its Order, According to Scripture. Both of these books are unashamedly "exclusive"; "open" brethren might find them a little "extreme". But I strongly recommend you read at least one of them, if you want to read "brethren".
  4. Discipline in the School of God, by J. B. Stoney. This is one of the "brethren" classics: if you have access to Bible Treasury, you actually have access to this book: it was originally published as a series of articles in Bible Treasury. Discipline is a survey of Bible characters, with an emphasis on God's work in their lives. This book is a subjective classic, and is probably the second-best christian book I have ever read.
  5. The Coming Prince, by Sir Robert Anderson. Excellent treatment of Daniel 9: might be the best Dispensationalist treatment of the passage. This is a Dispensationalist classic, written by an "open brethren" teacher.
  6. The Hopes of the Church of God, by J. N. Darby. This is actually in Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, Vol. 2. These lectures might be considered the start of Dispensationalism. Not really; but they are a series of lectures Darby gave in Geneva in 1840. These lectures are really excellent, and I would suggest you really need to read them, if you want to read "brethren" stuff. One lecture in the set: "The Progress of Evil on the Earth" is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand Darby's teaching on Ruin in the Church. These lectures have been published as a stand-alone volume a couple times.
  7. The Closing Ministry of J. Pellatt, Vols. 1 & 2: confusingly published in a single volume. The only real problem I have with this book is, the second half contains a lot of "Readings". I like sitting in Bible Readings, but really hate reading transcripts from them. The transcripts can be interesting, but they're a terrible read. J. Pellatt's ministry is excellent "heart ministry": it really touches your heart and lifts it to God. It's available online at My Brethren, but I find their tendency to convert prose into bullet points makes it hard to read anything in its entirety.

Now, you might have trouble actually finding all those books. In fact, you will certainly not be able to find them all in one place. But they're worth the trouble to dig up, if you're so inclined.

So if anyone actually does read this blog, I would be interested in hearing a recommended reading list from someone else...


Kendall said...

A friend and I digitized most of these books at one time, and it's possible I have digital copies lying around on some hard drive or another. If I can find them, I'll make sure they're available online somewhere.

Can you please advise where you make the digital copies available Thanks

Kendall said...

Two recommended books since you asked

From a exclusive brethren viewpoint
and written very recently.

By B Anstey. The writer challenges the reader to give the authority from Scripture for the order of things currently practiced in the church denominations today. At the same time, he attempts to set out God's order for Christians meeting together for worship and ministry, as found in the Scriptures.

found at Bibles and Publications.
Just finished reading non Brethren book
Knowing God by J.I. Packer

clumsy ox said...

Thanks for the tip, kendall. I'm currently on a book-buying moratorium (I bought way too many in the last six months), but I'll put that on the list for when the moratorium gets lifted.

I found old copies of those books online, but they were older versions, and we've updated them with corrections since (mainly OCR errors: we haven't changed any of the text or anything). I know I have newer copies somewhere, so I'll post locations once I dig them up and give them a new home online.

Gwen said...

These days, I'm looking for books more along the lines of "The Complete Illustrated Guide to How To Raise Your Kids Without Completely Going Insane or Committing A Crime." When I find it, I'll send you a copy.

Kendall said...

In looking thru your reading material list and your other expanded reading list. I noticed the vast majority where written in the 1800. Sadly i remember what is the number 1 Christian book at the present time. (see comments below)What a sad reflection of our times of the lack of good sound ministry and music that is written now.
2 timothy 4 -3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,

David Cloud, pastor and missionary in Nepal, wrote about Scriptural problems with Rick Warren’s best selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, in his Fundamental Baptist Information Service a few days ago.

The thing that has stuck with me the longest, though, was the music. The 40 Days of Purpose event (in which you read one chapter of the book each day for 40 days and discussed them in just about every aspect of the church) was kicked off with a video of a service at Rick Warren’s church. One of the songs that his congregation (and ours) sang was Lean on Me.

Lean on Me was a soft rock song by Bill Withers (I think) from the early 1970’s. It has been covered by many different artists and a few years ago was used in services at Saddleback church and in the video broadcast that became the kickoff to the 40 Days of Purpose program. Here are the lyrics to the chorus of Lean on Me.

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

After hearing this in the video kickoff and singing it as part of a worship service a week or two later, I asked the senior pastor a question in an orientation class for potential new church members. My question was this: From whose perspective is this song being sung?

I saw (and still see) only three answers to that question:

1. Jesus Christ is saying those words to us.
2. We are saying those words to Jesus.
3. We are saying those words to one another.

Three options. And none of them are biblically correct.

If these words are from Jesus speaking to us, then according to the chorus quoted above, He’s going to need someone to lean on soon. And that certainly isn’t right.

If these words are from us speaking to Jesus, then we’re telling Him to lean on us, and that’s certainly not right.

Lastly, if these words are from us speaking to one another, then we’re fostering reliance on each other and leaving Jesus out of the picture. And that’s certainly not right.

I believe that most people think of this as Jesus saying to us, “Lean on Me”, and never consider the last part of the chorus. They just sing along, wave back and forth, and have a “spiritual experience” driven by the world’s music. And that’s a significant problem I have with the Purpose Driven Life movement. It is based on human emotions and forcing an emotional response in human terms rather than letting the Holy Spirit move in God’s people.

I’d certainly like to hear other options for this, but I don’t believe there are any. Brother Cloud raises many very legitimate Scriptural issues with Rick Warren’s book and methods. But I don’t believe the problems stop with what he’s described.

I’ve had many people tell me I’m wrong here, but none have defended the Purpose Driven Life using the Bible. Is there a biblical defense of it? If so, what is it? I’d really like to know.
April 07, 2007
Posted in General — Gary Petersen @ 9:31 pm