October is my favorite month of the year, mainly because of the Autumn season and the changing of the leaves. October has also brought a change in my own life that has affected my reading somewhat, and perhaps I’ll write more on that later. But, that change has redirected my reading somewhat, and this month’s reading list has been more theologically heavy than the months prior.
Even so, perhaps you’ll still be encouraged…
Pastoral Theology by Thomas Oden
In this book, Oden, a Methodist theologian, lays out a compelling picture of pastoral ministry. And while I would disagree with him on some parts (substantially at times), I found the book to be challenging, encouraging, and invigorating. He writes, “Pastoral Theology is attentive to that knowledge of God witnessed to in Scripture, mediated through tradition, reflected upon by systematic reasoning, and embodied in personal and social experience.”
Shepherds after My Own Heart by Timothy Laniak
In this very helpful book, Laniak provides a biblical theology of shepherding as seen throughout the Bible. Laniak begins with a consideration of what it means to be a shepherd in the ancient world, and shows how the Bible’s use of shepherding and shepherding imagery teach us the heart of God for His people, and how that informs and shapes our understanding of pastoral ministry.
He writes, “In contrast to many modern and distorted images [of pastoral ministry], the Bible promotes robust, comprehensive shepherd leadership, characterized as much by the wise use of authority as by sympathetic expressions of compassion.”
Pastoral Theology by Danny Akin and Scott Pace
Drs. Akin and Pace provide a really helpful treatment of Pastoral theology in this book. Much of modern pastoral literature focuses on the tasks and activities of pastoral ministry, or on leadership perspectives as they pertain to modern Church ministry. But in this book, Akin and Pace back away from the day-to-day hustle and bustle of ministry and ask the more fundamental questions: Who is a Pastor, and why does he do what he does?
They write, “Pastoral theology establishes a theological framework for ministry that is biblically derived, historically informed, doctrinally sound, missionally engaged, philosophically deliberate, and contextually relevant.”
The Care of Souls by Harold Senkbeil
This book ranks among the best I’ve read on the work of pastoral ministry as it is connected to theology. It is tempting at times for pastors to let the work of pastoral ministry become separated from the theological foundations of pastoral ministry. In other words, it is easy to get busy with the “what,” and forget the “why.”
In this book, Senkbeil, an older Lutheran Pastor, writes about a lifetime of ministry, drawing from rich experiences and theological reflection to produce a book that will be helpful for pastors and churches for generations to come.
To set the stage for the book, Senkbeil writes, “The challenge for pastors in every generation is to link the person and work of Jesus Christ to every shifting era by means of His unchanging Word—not to contextualize the message, but to textualize people into the text of Scripture…”
Preaching and Teaching
Being that my primary calling in the Church is to the shepherding ministry entrusted to Elders, preaching and teaching take up a large portion of my weekly activities. In our church, we are preparing to begin an exegetical study of the Gospel of John.
Here are some of the resources I’ll be using along the way…
A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters by Andres Kostenberger
This book is part of a biblical theology series released by Zondervan, and they really are very helpful. This is the third volume I have used, and I eventually plan to obtain and use every volume available. Kostenberger, who is among the leading Johannine scholars writing today, provides a comprehensive overview of John’s theology that comes through his Gospel and his letters. For serious students of the Word, these volumes are worthwhile investments.
The Gospel According to John by D.A. Carson
Carson is one of the most recognized New Testament scholars, and his commentary on John’s gospel in the Pillar series tops the list of available commentaries. I am looking forward to spending lots of time with Carson in the weeks and months ahead.
The Gospel of John by Fredrick Dale Bruner
Frederick Dale Burner is a professor of Religion and theologian, and has written a number of helpful books and commentaries on the Bible. While Bruner and I come from different theological traditions, I often find his take on the Scriptures to be helpful and challenging, and if nothing more, thought-provoking. As with Carson, Bruner will be a constant compassion in my life for the foreseeable future.