It's always interesting to find out what people are reading these days. I'll begin by sharing this month's list, with some comments. Since I'm copy/pasting this from my blog www.theopenlife.com , the links will not appear.
In keeping with the holiday, I would like to express my gratitude to God and the men He uses for the many books I have been blessed by. In terms of reading accomplished, this month has been more productive than usual (hopefully a new trend). Altogether, I digested over 1,261 pages of printed content and I trust have retained some of it. I would like to share some of those books with you and provide a short comment on Martin Luther's Bondage of the Will.
I began the month with Calvin's 'On Prayer and the Christian Life', which is available as a free audio book until the end of November at Christianaudio.com. If time permits I would like to go through it again, seeing the book to be very warm and full of practical exhortation.
Next, I read one of the Pocket Puritan series entitled 'Anger Management', which is an excerpt from Richard Baxter's copious Christian Directory, which I suppose was more or less his attempt to answer every conceivable question of conscience in the daily lives of Christians. Pill-sized and potent, Anger Management is useful medication for temperamental tendencies. Allowing that anger is sometimes beneficial, Baxter first explains when anger is sinful and then gives and expounds on twelve "considerations to hinder sinful anger." For instance, Anger is a sin which does not leave you to sin alone. Ponder that. He next refutes six objections and closes with sixteen practical directions for abstaining from sinful anger. I most appreciated his observation that, "Humility is patient and does not exaggerate injuries... He that thinks lowly of himself considers things said or done against him as of little significance." Thanks to the brother who gave me the book, who admitted that he ought to keep it in his chest pocket at all times.
Now to my favorite of the month, Volume 1 of C. H. Spurgeon's 'Autobiography'. I actually listened to the audio version, narrated by the excellent Simon Vance (aka Robert Whitefield), which I consider some of the best $12.50 (with membership) that I have ever spent. A complete review of it is available here, so it will suffice only to say that my respect for Spurgeon has gone to heights before unknown. His genius, wit, warmth, and theological devotion is astounding. And, at 20+ hours for just the half of it, this is money well invested.
My interest in biography not being yet sated, I also devoured that of David Livingstone, the British pioneer missionary/cartographer/emissary to Africa during the 1800's. The audio version of Thomas Hughes' 1889 edition is well read by Frederick Davidson. Be forewarned, however, the story may become tedious at times for those not interested in anthropology, biology, or 19th century interracial relations. However, if you are wont to enjoy National Geographic, you will be both fascinated and sanctified by this account of one of God's great soldiers.
Lastly, I read in two sittings (or should I say, heard in two listenings) Martin Luther's 'Bondage of the Will'. A full review is available at www.puritanical.org, Ryan Thompson's book-review blog. As mentioned before, I listened to the free audio version of the book, available on SermonAudio.com. I found it not only thought provoking, but a fun use of two-and-a-half hours. In the spirit of the author, the narrator becomes pretty impassioned at times and I could only wish he had a German accent. For those unfamiliar, the book is Luther's refutation of Erasmus of Rotterdam's Diatribe on the Freedom of the Will. About three-quarters were a polemic destruction of Erasmus' reputation as an authority on the subject. I almost wondered if Luther would ever start expounding his subject rather than exposing the illogical and false pretenses of the scholarly Dane. But, with fervid genius, the monk prevails in the remaining thirty minutes to expose free will for what it is - a void term.
There were elements of Bondage that were, to me, raw rhetorical genius. Such as when Luther refers to himself in the third person, like a brute gorilla of intellect beating his breast and ready to smash Erasmus' arguments, saying,
You [Erasmus] called those men, 'men of the greatest understanding in the Scripture, and martyrs of Christ;' merely in order that you might blind the eyes of the inexperienced commonalty, and make work for Luther by loading his cause with empty words, odium, and contempt. But, however, I aver that neither of your assertions are true, and that both are false. For, first of all, I aver, that the Scriptures are quite clear: and next, that those men, as far as they asserted "Free-will," were most ignorant of the Sacred Writings: and moreover, that they neither asserted it by their life, nor by their death, but by their pen only; and that, while their heart was traveling another road.
Luther called Erasmus' flattery for what it was: a false flag.
As well, I appreciated the simplicity of Luther's explanation about 'Imperatives versus Indicatives.' In short, to infer an indicative sense upon what may be an imperative passage is to upset all of one's biblical understanding. For instance, one may read 'Choose you this day whom you will serve,' and thereby infer the word 'choose' indicates one's native ability to fulfill the command. However, if one uses such exegetical methods consistently then he must also infer an indicative sense upon all similar 'command' passages. 'Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart', if taken to be indicative rather than imperative, becomes a (ridiculous) statement that all people only love God perfectly, thus making a promise out of the command; or it means we are capable, by ourselves, of loving God perfectly. What need then is there for grace? If one says, No, but grace enables us enough to will these things by our free will, then we deny the very freedom of the human will, seeing that it needs enabling grace in order to do right, which proves it is in bondage to sin!
Well, friends, the time is coming to a close for you to enter this month's free book give away at www.theopenlife.com. Don't miss out on the opportunity to grow in knowledge for the heartfelt service of Christ.