Recommended Reading

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The Disclaimer

Below is a selection of some of the books that have in one way or another shaped our thinking at St Luke's. Absolutely we’d recommend any of these titles as being well worth reading as they will encourage, challenge, inform, provoke, and stimulate you in your Christian faith. At the same time the various opinions and perspectives shared on different subjects in these books are not necessarily that of the leadership team at St Luke’s. Like when reading any book, we’d encourage you to read with discernment. Peace.    

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Water to Wine

By Brian Zahnd

Why would the pastor of a large and successful church risk everything in a quest to find a richer, deeper, fuller Christianity? In Water To Wine Brian Zahnd tells his story of disenchantment with pop Christianity and his search for a more substantive faith. Wrestling with the uneasy feeling that the faith he'd built his life around was somehow deficient, Zahnd finds himself following Jesus but sensing that the Christianity he was familiar with had run out. "I was in Cana and the wine had run out. I needed Jesus to perform a miracle.” –Water To Wine

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The Bible Tells Me So

By Peter Enns

In The Bible Tells Me So, Enns dry wit shines through as he tells his journey of learning to embrace God’s Word as it is actually written. He explores questions progressive evangelical readers of Scripture commonly face yet fear voicing and reveals that they are the very questions that God wants us to consider—the essence of our spiritual study. This is both and easy and provocative read that is well worth engaging with.  

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The King Jesus Gospel

By Scot McKnight

If your understanding of the Good News of the Gospel is off centre then the whole of your Christian faith will be skewed. You’ve got to get this right. In The King Jesus Gospel McKnight revisits the original good news of the gospel and explains it as so much more than a personal plan of salvation. Much of what many Christians claim to be the gospel is not what Jesus and the apostles preached. This is a must read.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About God

By Rob Bell

For many in our world God is either made up, angry, old fashioned or irrelevant. This book tackles these misconceptions about God, showing how God is not being left behind but is actually ahead of us, pulling us all forward into lives of greater fullness and vitality. And, not only ahead of us, God is also with us and for us. These truths can change the entire course of one's life. This would be a great read for any unchurched friends perhaps asking questions about God, or about, what we talk about when we talk about God.

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Body, Soul and Human Life

By Joel B. Green

Professor Green provides a scholarly and thoroughly biblical analysis of human personhood. Humans are embodied people not 'spirits that have a soul and live in a body.' Or in other words we see very little in scripture that would point towards the human posession of an ontologically distinctive entity known as the "soul," much less for the identification of the person's true "self" with such an entity. 

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Accompany them with Singing

By Thomas G. Long

Many today consider the funeral to be a waste of money and at best only a mechanism to offer psychological help to friends and family in the midst of grief. What the Christian funeral is actually about much much more than this? Thomas G. Long challenges many contemporary assumptions regarding the funeral and offers a brilliant case that the funeral is to be a bold declaration of the gospel message, of Christian hope and of life in the face of death. The first two chapters alone are worth the price of the book. They address misunderstandings of human nature and the poor theology offered at many funerals. 

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Life After Death

By Graham H. Twelftree

Is death the end? If there is an after-life, what is it going to be like? Will we be absorbed into a spiritual realm? Will we still have some kind of body? Graham Twelftree explores this issues and the relevant scriptures with a scholar's gentle hand. Careful to be clear where we can and open to mystery when required as well. This is a fascinating book and will bring clarity where there is often confusion. I cannot promise a comfortable journey. Thinking clearly with the Bible open can turn up some challenging conclusions!

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Surprised by Hope

By N.T. Wright

The long and the short of it is that heaven isn’t a mystical city high in the sky, with golden streets, and stately mansions. Tackling issues of escapism and evacuation head on, Surprised by Hope will help readers more clearly understand the resurrection of Jesus, salvation and the Good News of life today and tomorrow in the Kingdom of God. You’ll no doubt be surprised by the incredible hope that we have!

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The Fire that Consumes

By Edward William Fudge

Does the bible really teach eternal torment in a lake of fire? It isn't uncommon, especially with an already preconceived idea of hell, to read certain assumptions regarding eternity into the biblical narrative. Edward Fudge challenges many of the popular assumptions about hell. He is detailed in his literary and historical examination of the biblical text and well worth taking note of. First published in 1982 The Fire that Consumes has been through multiple re-printings and is now considered by Christianity Today as "the standard reference on the subject." If you have questions about hell it is well worth reading. 

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The Liturgical Year

By Jane Chittister

Beginning in Advent and rolling through to the following November, the church’s liturgical year tracks the life of Jesus and creates opportunity for the believer to immerse themselves in the story of our Saviour. It’s goal is well disciples and developed followers of Christ. Covering everything from Advent to Lent to Pentecost to Ordinary Time this book is a real eye opener in regards to the season of the Christian calendar and their incredible meaning for us today. Ancient faith and practice resonating in life today.  

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The Art of Curating Worship

By Mark Pierson

Worship is often seen as the time of singing at a Sunday gathering; however a worship experience has the potential to be a lot more than just singing. This book blends theology with practical advice and offers ideas, examples and challenges in curating transformative worship experiences. Room for reflection, participation, symbolic response, exploration and imagination is encouraged. This book will challenge you, broaden your understanding of worship and offer space to connect with God in new and ancient ways.  

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The Pastor as Public Theologian

By Kevin Van Hoozer

Many pastors today see themselves primarily as counselors, leaders, and motivators. Yet this often comes at the expense of the fundamental reality of the pastorate as a theological office. The most important role is to be a theologian mediating God to the people. The church needs pastors who can contextualize the Word of God to help their congregations think theologically about all aspects of their lives, such as work, end-of-life decisions, political involvement, and entertainment choices. 

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The Pastor; A Memoir

By Eugene H. Peterson

What is a pastor in a clamorous, celebrity-driven, entertainment culture? CEO, entertainer, shepherd? This is the disarming tale of one of the unlikely suspects who has significantly shaped the lives of countless through his passion, love, and commitment to th role of 'pastor.' It is a must read not only for every person who is called to be a pastor but also for every person who has a pastor. 

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Sacred Pathways

By Gary L. Thomas

One reason many Christians become discouraged with their devotional lives is because they've adopted a narrow, cut-and-dried approach--one they're not wired for as individuals. Sacred Pathways explores nine time-tested ways to commune with God that honor the unique design he has given each of us. The naturalist, the ascetic, the traditionalist, the activist, the enthusiast, the intellectual . . . this engaging, insightful, and well-written book will lead the reader to a deeper understanding of his or her spiritual temperament, and new vistas of relationship with God.

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The Next Christians

By Gabe Lyons

Christianity's future is bright despite the reality that we live in a 'post-Christian' world. A new generation of believers that gathers as the church and scatters to be the church in the world is rising up. These Christ followers are provoked not offended, creators not critics, called not employed, in community not alone and countercultural not relevant. Its a good read. 

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Exiles

By Michael Frost

Appreciating that we have slowly but surely moved from Christendom into a post-Christian world, Exiles is an inspiring guide in regards to what it means to follow Jesus in the 21st Century. Frost get’s to the heart of what it means to live missionally and tackles all sorts of issues including authenticity, hospitality, worship, justice, and ecology.  

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Cadences of Home

By Walter Brueggemann

Many of today's churchgoers wander in a world that was once structured and reliable, but now feels meaningless and incoherent. We're postmodern now not modern. Our culture is post-Christian not Christian. Influence and authority has been disperssed. In this book, Walter Brueggemann argues for a dynamic transformation of preaching to help people find their spiritual home and to proclaim to the world that there is a home for all people.

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A Meal with Jesus

By Tim Chester

Meals have always been important across societies and cultures, a time for friends and families to come together. An important part of relationships, meals are vital to our social health. Food connects. Chester argues that meals are also deeply theological—an important part of Christian fellowship and mission. Chester notes, “The meals of Jesus represent something bigger.” Six chapters in A Meal with Jesus show how they enact grace, community, hope, mission, salvation, and promise. 

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Home by Another Way

By Barbara Brown Taylor

In this collection of sermons, Barabra Brown Taylor walks us through the church year from the expectancy of Advent to the fires of Pentecost and beyond. Her themes arise not only from a particular feast or fast, but out of the perennial questions of faith: doubt, grace, anger, and jubilation. These sermons are great stories well told. They are easy to read and yet deeply challenging and encouraging all at once. A beautiful read. 

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God Next Door

By Simon Carey Holt

What if God lived next door? Would you recognise him? Would you talk to him at the fence or avoid catching his eye? Would you love him as you love yourself? Simon Carey Holt has listened to the experiences of numerous men and women of faith living in a variety of urban and suburban neighbourhoods, and uncovered the spiritual possibilities of our neighbourhoods. His inspiring stories open up exciting new possibilities for 21st-century mission.

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The Shape of Living

By David F. Ford

In our culture of distraction it can be hard to focus on spiritual matters. Work, finances, and uncertain futures are just a few things that overwhelm us daily. Discover how to overcome and develop an everyday spirituality that will guide your actions and bring meaning to your hectic life.

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One.Life

By Scot McKnight

This is a fantastic and essential read in regards to what it means to be a Christian, to be a Christ-follower. One.Life invites you to discover what Jesus meant when he announced the arrival of God’s kingdom, and why his message had such a profound impact on his listeners. This book is a manifesto of the Christian faith and calls you beyond the flatlands of religiosity toward a kingdom vision that will shape everything you do. You’ve only got one life, One.Life shows you how to live it for all it’s worth.

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Freedom of Simplicity

By Richard Foster

Embracing simplicity is an essential spiritual discipline in the 21st Century. It frees us from all sorts of clutter, in a material sense as well as in an emotional and mental sense. It creates space to rest in God and to journey with the Holy Spirit. When life just seems to get busier, faster and more hectic, simplicity stills us and changes us. This is a must read.

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Just Walk Across the Room

By Bill Hybels

This book is both encouraging and simple. It normalises evangelism and moves away from compartmentalising it as an activity or project, and instead living it as a lifestyle. The book teaches it has more to do with taking a genuine interest in another person and listening to their story than it does with learning evangelism tactics and techniques. It is practical, refreshing and challenging and will bring a new adventure into your life.

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Fasting

By Scot McKnight

Fasting is a commonly misunderstood and sometimes avoided ancient practice. But it is a relevant spiritual discipline that can be instrumental in spiritual formation. Scot McKnight illustrates how fasting is a whole-body natural response to life’s sacred moments and explores how fasting should be a response rather than a practice used to get something from God. A palatable teaching book that will encourage you to revisit fasting as a regular practise in your life.

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Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger

By Ronald J. Sider

In an age and society where materialism, consumerism and individualism have become accepted norms it is appropriate that such a book is written to confront and question whether we are truly living according to a biblical worldview. Every day more than 34,000 children die of starvation and preventable diseases, and 1. 3 billion human beings live in relentless, unrelieved poverty worldwide. Is it because of sinful lazy individual choices or economic and social structures? This book is timely and challenging.

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Off-Road Disciplines

By Earl Creps

Spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, solitude and confession are essential practices in the life of every believer, even though they are practices hundreds and hundreds of years old. In Off-Road Disciplines though, Earl introduces a variety of other disciplines essential and meaningful in the adventure that is serving Jesus. Look for issues such as ‘reverse mentoring’, ‘sacred realism’, and ‘making room’ to be covered in challenging and encouraging ways.

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The Essence of the Church

By Craig Van Gelder

Why does the church exist? Why do we do what we do? What should the church look like today? These are all questions that need to be asked and explored. This book encourages readers to rethink the nature of the church rather than present a static model of how to do church. It is rich in biblical, theological and theoretical principles and will evoke thoughtful and practical response.

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Theology for the Community of God

By Stanley Grenz

While 659 pages of theology may be overwhelming for some, the fact that Grenz’s book is divided into medium sized sections with smaller chapters covering various subjects means it can be read quickly or slowly in any particular order. This may make it more palatable for some. It is a brilliant systematic theology which weaves together the classical debates with modern and contemporary issues and presents a coherent vision of the Christian faith. It will help you with all sorts of tricky issues.

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Tokens of Trust

By Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams is the Archbishop of Canterbury and writes with an incredible understanding of Christian theology as well as contemporary culture. The result is a beautiful and thoughtful introduction to Christian belief that is both simple to read and comprehend as well as incredibly deep and profound. Tokens of Trust is thus well worth taking the time to read be you only enquiring in regards to the Christian faith, a new Christian, a long time Christian or a theology student.

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Flame of Love

By Clark Pinnock

Beautifully written, Clark Pinnock presents a treatise on the Holy Spirit that is biblically grounded and passionate about the ongoing transformative work of the Holy Spirit in the world. While being theologically driven it would also be suitable as a devotional that inspires the reader into a greater love and relationship with the Holy Spirit than ever before.

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The Critical Journey

By Janet O. Hagberg and Robert A. Guelich

The faith journey is a mysterious and wonderful adventure to traverse. As we go through different seasons of life, mature in our faith, experience victory and defeat, achievements and losses, our faith expresses itself in different ways. It even at feels different at times. Sometimes it doesn't really even feel like faith. The Critical Journey takes the reader through different stages of the faith journey that we all go through, including hitting the wall. Well worth reading for anyone wanting to live authentically before God. 

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The Gospel of the Kingdom

By George E. Ladd

Central to the message of Jesus is the Kingdom of God, yet the concept and the reality of the Kingdom of God is so often missed and misunderstood. This brilliant little book makes clear the message of the Kingdom of God and the urgency of its meaning for us today. Amongst other things Ladd brilliantly explains the Kingdom of God as something that is ‘now but not yet,’ a key concept in reconciling what it means to follow Christ in the world.

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The Lost World of Genesis One

By John H. Walton

How is the modern Christian to understand the first chapter of Genesis one? We embrace science across the spectrum of our lives, weather forecasts, aeroplane flights, our computers, and yet we reject science when it comes to its 'theory of evolution.' Is Genesis one to be taken literally? What is the message of Genesis one? Is theistic evolution a valid option in regards to the origins of life for a bible believing Christian?

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Proverbs

By Tremper Longman

Most people love the insights and pithy one liner’s found in the book of Proverbs. They offer wisdom and practical advice which despite being well over two thousand years old still resonates today. It’s not uncommon for people to read a ‘Proverb a Day.’ This commentary by Longmann will hugely aid the reader of Proverbs in their comprehension of Ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature and in their application of the principles (not promises) of Proverbs.

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Ecclesiastes

By Craig G. Bartholomew

I was once told by a well meaning (though ill informed) pastor, that Ecclesiastes wasn't really worth reading, after all, it was written by Solomon when he was depressed and everything. And everything? Ecclesiastes is one of the most brilliant books of the biblical cannon. Often misunderstood it speaks of the incredible gift that life is and celebrates full engagement in the down-to-earth realities of daily living. Bartholomew's commentary provides excellent insights and knowledge in regards to Eccesiastes, its message and its meaning. Well worth working through. 

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Theology of the Book of Revelation

By Richard Bauckham

More than likely most of what you've ever heard in regards to the book of Revelation, its meaning and its application, is nonsense. Popular websites, books, songs and movies like The Left Behind series have all too often informed popular opinion on Revelation and its meaning. Dr Richard Bauckham is one of the world's leading New Testament scholars and is an expert on the book of Revelation. A book which spoke powerfully to its original audience and speaks powerfully to us today. A book though that needs careful exegises. This book offers that. 

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The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation

By Craig S. Keener

The NIV Application Commentary series is incredibly accessible and easy to read. This would be a great commentary to read alongside Revelation and offers a solid and accurate understanding of the text along with keen insights regarding is application to our lives in a 21st Century context. Well worth reading through slowly as Revelation isn't the sort of book to rush through and hope you 'get it.'

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The Blue Parakeet

By Scot McKnight

Two main challenges confront Christians when it comes to bible reading, first to read the bible and then secondly to learn how to read it well. How does one go about reading and making sense of a document that was written thousands of years ago over hundreds of years by dozens of authors? How do you work out what it means for life today? In The Blue Parakeet, McKnight tackles these issues with some guidelines for bible reading that will greatly enrich your reading of God’s word.

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The Drama of Scripture

By Craig Bartholomew & Michael Goheen

Appreciating the narrative quality of scripture, this book brings the Bible to life in a way in which readers of any level will be able to grasp the sense of Scripture as a single great story. The bible presents a grand-narrative, a drama that we are all invited to play a part in, a story by which all other stories make sense. The Drama of Scripture summaries the big story and will help you to comprehend the bigger plot behind the chapters and verses of your regular bible reading.

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The New Testament Story

By Ben Witherington

This is a perfect introduction to the New Testament for the everyday reader. It covers origin, plot, and development of the New Testament as well as the main figures and stories in the New Testament. It is thorough but lively and covers entire books and individual passages. Those used to reading only a few verses at a time will find a whole new appreciation for and understanding of the New Testament.

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Them, Us and Me

By Jacqueline Grey

For a lot of people, most of the Old Testament is often put in the ‘too hard basket’ – we know it is important but it doesn’t seem to always make sense! This book will help readers understand the big story of Israel and read the Old Testament in a way that is faithful to its context yet speaks to us today in a relevant and powerful way.

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The End of Religion

By Bruxy Cavey

The problem with organised religion is not that it is organised but that it is religious. Believing that it's own set of rules, regulations, rituals and routines are the way to God. The antidote to organised religion is not disorganised religion, but organised irreligion. A collective effort to use organisation and structure to help people encounter and experience the subversive spirituality [and life] of Jesus.

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Sticky Faith

By Kara E. Powell

Studies show that many of the kids who are connected to a youth group throughout their senior year will fail to stick with their faith in college. As youth workers are pouring their time and energy into the students in their ministries, they are often left wondering if they've done enough to equip their students to carry their faith into adulthood. Fuller Youth Institute has done extensive research in the area of youth ministry and teenage development. Sticky Faith presents youth workers with both a theological/philosophical framework and practical programming ideas that develop long-term faith in teenagers.

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Jesus of Nazareth

By Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

In this brilliant work Ratzinger seeks to salvage the person of Jesus from recent 'popular' depictions and to restore Jesus' true identity as discovered in the Gospels. Through his brilliance as a theologian and his personal conviction as a believer, the Pope shares a rich, compelling, flesh-and-blood portrait of Jesus and incites us to encounter, face to face, the central figure of the Christian faith; Jesus the Christ and Savior of the World. 

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Sabbath as Resistance

By Walter Brueggemann

In this volume, popular author Walter Brueggemann writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society. Importantly, Brueggemann speaks to a 24/7 society of consumption, a society in which we live to achieve, accomplish, perform, and possess. We want more, own more, use more, eat more, and drink more. Keeping the Sabbath allows us to break this restless cycle and focus on what is truly important: God, other people, all life.