I managed to read this one almost twice – once before I gave some to friends at Bible College for Christmas, and this time, because I read it so fast the first time, to go through a bit more slowly and think through each chapter. There’s so much in each that I will probably read it again in the future.
I’d never heard of a ‘reader’, but basically this is a collection of articles written by past and present theologians (big names like Luther, Carson, Woodhouse, Spurgeon)- some of the articles are excerpts from previously written works, some seem to have been specifically written for this book. The articles all relate to some aspect of the ‘trials of theology’ – the challenges and temptations faced as students take time out to study God’s word in order to know him better and prepare to lead his people.
I really enjoyed it. Having done some vocational ministry, I felt that a lot of it was very familiar, e.g. Augustine writes of the inadequacy one feels when undertaking God’s work, and Spurgeon talks about the need to examine oneself and not to just simply study, read and learn, that ministry involves the change in the heart.There are a couple of chapters that seem to be more for Bible College students than those who aren’t, like on Church History or Systematic Theology (I’m still trying to wrap my head around what that is), but for the most part, every Christian who is thoughtful about wanting to know God and grow in godliness should read it at some point. I was rebuked a lot, and caused to examine myself and my motives and attitudes and habits.
I think it’s also helpful for loving your leaders better. I think a lot of people underestimate the work and hours and heart that goes into a minister’s week, and the daily challenges they face in leading a church. We lay people would do well to love our leaders better to make their work a joy and not a burden. And to support bible college students as well. And to just be reminded of the value of spending time reading the bible and studying it, not just churning through chapters and ticking it off the list (which is what I often do).
On that note, I haven’t decided what I’ll be reading yet, but perhaps I should take a break from reading books and spend some time reflecting and sharing what I’m reading in the bible as I do my ‘bible in a year’ reading plan.
I got this off bookdepository.com.uk if anyone’s interested. Free postage. I love the book depository 🙂