The Church Militant Reads

As I’ve gotten to know a few military service members over the years, it has struck me that the Church might take a tip or two from the military. Certainly she ought not to buy into everything the military is about. Yet there is a discipline inherent in the military that seems to be generally lacking in the Church. When I think of discipline, my first thought is of a particular Marine I knew (and for that matter, most Marines).

Among many things the heads of the various armed services maintain (and I have know idea how long such things have been in effect) are recommended reading lists. These are slowly evolving lists of books that should be read by all members, divided by rank (an unofficial “ecumenical” site and the Commandant’s official list). I haven’t really spent much time with the actual lists, but I’ve been mulling over the idea of the lists. This is in part because I happen to be reading a book from the USMC list, Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire. It’s the battle of Thermopylae set as a novel. I’ve only scratched the surface, but I’m seeing it’s obvious applications to a Marine’s vocation, and not unobvious possible applications for the Church.

I think there are plenty of books, the study of which could be quite fruitful for Christians today. And not all of them are primarily theological, though significant connections might be made. If such a list were to be made, what would you like to see included on it? I’m looking for accessible, edifying books that could open doors of new understanding for Christian persons, lay and clergy alike. I’ll start the list with some familiar titles, in no particular order. I invite you to add others in the comments below.

Handling the Word of Truth, Pless.

The Hammer of God, Giertz.

Theology is for Proclamation, Forde.

A Summary of Christian Doctrine, Koehler.

And because I’ve just mentioned it, Gates of Fire, Pressfield.

My choices aren’t limited to these. Call these a little list starter. What would you add?

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5 Responses to The Church Militant Reads

  1. Nathan Beethe says:

    The Fire and the Staff – Klemet Preuss

    The Defense Never Rests: A Lawyers Pursuit of the Gospel – Craig Parton

    The Spirituality of the Cross – Gene Veith

  2. OSC says:

    Nathan, thanks for the contributions.

    I think I may have unwittingly biased the list with my first four offerings. That is, my hope is that such a list would also include other not-necessarily-theological titles, or at least, not necessarily systematic. Here are a couple others that I think would be helpful:

    Exegetical Fallacies, Carson.

    Come, Let Us Reason, Geisler and Brooks.

    and, of course,

    The Chronic (What?) les of Narnia, Lewis, including my personal favorite, The Last Battle.

  3. Nathan Beethe says:

    Thanks for the clarification.

    I will offer two more that I particularly enjoy and which may fit the bill a little better:

    Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

    Crime and Punishment – Dostoevsky

  4. OSC says:

    Nice. If ever there was a novel with clear depictions of bondage under the Law and freedom in the Gospel, Les Miserables is it. Thanks.

  5. anokihaish says:

    I second Crime and Punishment, good book.

    Theologically, I would add Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross.

    I have also recently reread Richardson, Creating a Healthier Church which was very good.

    C.S. Lewis at some point wrote that it’s not reading many books that is great, but rereading good ones. I reminded me of something a professor said about Scripture, that it was not meant to be read, but reread.

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