Books of all kinds are, for me, a source of delight, books both old and new. Many age-old Christian authors have impacted my theological perspectives and have served as wise counselors. I occasionally joke that some of my best friends have been dead for over 400 years! However, there are many excellent books of more recent vintage, as well.
So, here are a couple of books I highly recommend – one by an author from the past, and the other a newer publication:
Select Letters of John Newton, Banner of Truth, 1960, reprinted 2015
Penned by the author of the hymn, Amazing Grace, these letters are a joy. While Newton is best known today as a hymn writer, in his own time he had a reputation as a gentle and wise physician of souls. Because of his remarkable story as a converted slave trader, Newton gained wide notoriety in Great Britain. As a result, he carried on a large correspondence with hundreds of friends and inquirers who asked his advice on many issues. These letters have been selected from the many Newton wrote, and they offer the pure distilled wisdom of a pastor who knew the human heart very well. Newton deeply loved Christ, and his emphasis on grace – both in doctrine and in practice – imbues these letters with a unique sweetness. I consider John Newton one of my mentors and have returned to this book many times over the years.
Reading Between the Lines, by Glen Scrivener, 10 Publishing, 2018
This encouraging volume consists of short devotional readings from the Old Testament. I know, boring, right? NOT AT ALL! The difference is apparent from the very first page because the author uses each Old Testament passage to point us to Jesus.
For example, Scrivener parallels the creation account in Genesis 1 (“Let there be light.”) with John 1, and then writes: “God’s Word is his Son, who was there at the beginning….’Let him shine!’ says God the Father, and the darkness flees.” (p. 8)
The author mixes wisdom, wit, and the occasional pop culture reference to usher us into an Old Testament in which Jesus shines as the central figure. I’m well into the volume now, using it as part of my daily devotions, and I must say I am seeing our Savior in a whole new (Old Testament) light.