What have I been reading? Here’s some of the books since the first of the year.
Thomas S. Kidd, American Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and Faiths (Yale University Press, 2016). It’s amazing how many quality books Kidd can produce in so short a time. It goes to show what you can do once you really master a subject and a century. Kidd structures this volume around the two themes of religion and conflict as it played out among Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans. The primary source material makes the book especially valuable as a colonial history textbook.
Aaron Clay Denlinger, ed., Reformed Orthodoxy in Scotland: Essays on Scottish Theology 1560-1775 (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015). More for the specialists than the general reader, still seminary students and pastors will benefit from this in-depth look at Scottish theology. I found the Burton’s and Goudriaan’s chapters on Samuel Rutherford to be particularly instructive, Gootjes’s chapter on Scotland and Samur the most helpful, and Guy Richard’s chapter on the Song of Songs in Scotland the most fascinating.
Stephen G. Myers, Scottish Federalism and Covenantalism in Transition: The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine (Pickwick, 2015). As one of the leading Marrow Men and the key leader in the secession church (later the Associate Presbytery), Erskine is one of the more important Presbyterians many of us know nothing about. I appreciated Myers handling of the Erskine-Whitefield rift and the Marrow Controversy (in particular the point that the opponents of the Marrow were not all legalists or proto-Moderates).
Allan Chapple, True Devotion: In Search of Authentic Spirituality (Latimer Trust, 2014). I read this book on the enthusiastic recommendation of William Taylor (of St Helen’s in London). Our staff went through the book last semester and it did not disappoint. Chapple, an Anglican who has pastored in Australia and in England, makes a sustained (and persuasive) case for a responsive spirituality rooted in the Scriptures and in the Reformation tradition rather than an eclectic mystical spirituality that can be found in much of contemporary evangelicalism.
Cornelis Van Dam, The Deacon: Biblical Foundations for Today’s Ministry of Mercy (Reformation Heritage Books). As a pastor, I’m always on the look out for good books about being a deacon and being an elder. Van Dam has books on both. (I haven’t gotten to the elder one yet, but this one on the diaconate is excellent.) Solid exegesis, excellent historical investigation, good practical advice, and helpful summaries at the end of each chapter. Many readers will be especially interested in the two chapters on women and the diaconate. Van Dam argues that women should not hold church office and should not be ordained, but they should be encouraged and equipped to fulfill diaconal functions in the church.