Previously, I have been pretty critical of pastors being unwilling to connect the Bible to evidence outside the Bible. I have always maintained that the secret to getting people to act like Christians and evangelize effectively was that we needed to train Christians to understand how to relate what the Bible says to the way the world really works outside church doors. Whether it be the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, social issues, fiscal issues and foreign policy issues, my view has always been that pastors by and large were just not taking seriously their obligation to train their flocks to engage with non-Christians. I guess that I expected that most pastors would be more like Wayne Grudem, who is really good at connecting the Bible to knowledge outside the Bible. But in my experience, most pastors aren’t like that.
Look, I don’t even think it’s possible – in a secularized, postmodern, relativistic, naturalistic society like ours – to impact the world for Christ unless our faith is connected to knowledge from the real world. Christians today say that they believe the Bible, but can they really live it out if it’s just private preferences, and not objective knowledge? Many beliefs that conflict with Christianity are accepted by most people today as being beyond dispute. In order to evangelize today, I think that we have to support our beliefs with knowledge. And that means building a worldview from the ground up, with each block the result of a careful study of some area of knowledge. We have to put as much effort into our faith as we do into our education, our careers, our investments, our fitness and nutrition, etc. That’s the only way to be an authentic Christian in such a hostile environment.
OK, so with that said, let’s take a look at Pastor Matt’s exciting post.
Hi, my name is Matt and I’m a book addict. It is a sickness that leads people to such reckless behavior as reading on a couch for hours during sunny days, spending free time wondering the racks at Barnes & Noble and boring the heck out of people at parties when soft-hearted fools make the mistake of inviting a well-known “bibliophile.” BUT my sickness may be your blessing because raging geeks like me can help you spend your money and time a little bit more wisely.
My favorite book of the year so far is Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by Detective J. Warner Wallace (David C. Cook 2013). Detective Wallace presents apologetics, the necessary but often dry discipline of defending the Christian faith, in a fresh and compelling manner. He approaches the Gospels as a cold-case detective and illustrates his points with fascinating stories from his years working as an investigator. It is a fun, well-written and helpful work that will embolden Christians to share their faith with others for decades to come. You MUST pick-up a copy of this book.
So far so good. But this is where things get really weird. You see, Pastor Matt is really addicted to reading. He has read SIXTY-SEVEN books so far this year, and he has a bunch more in progress.
Now just check out a few of these books and ask yourself – what would the world be like if every pastor was like Pastor Matt?
Behold, the awesomeness of his book list:
1. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Greg Koukl (Zondervan 2009). A lot of budding apologists fill their head with knowledge but lack tact in conversing with non-believers–Koukl’s book can help. A must read.
2. Icons of Evolution by Jonathan Wells (Regnery 2002). What unsupported claims do Darwinists hold to? Wells, a trained evolutionary biologists, points them out in this wonderful book.
4. On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision by William Lane Craig (David C. Cook 2010). A good apologetics resource although I think Craig struggles to explain in lay terms his response to scientific objections to the faith.
6. True for You, but Not For Me: Answering Objections to the Christian Faith by Paul Copan (Bethany 2009). A good but short guide to various objections. Recommended.
7. How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong? Responding to Objections that Leave Christians Speechless by Paul Copan (Baker 2005). A good guide with more meat to it than True For You, But Not For Me. Recommended.
9-11. The Case for Christ (Zondervan 1998), The Case for Faith (Zondervan 2006) and The Case for a Creator (Zondervan 2004). The Strobel’s trilogy serves as a wonderful introduction to apologetics. Strobel is a former journalist who interviews experts on matters of faith and reports them with crisp prose. Highly recommended.
12. The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards (Regnery 2004). A wonderful book on the fine-tuning of the universe. Highly recommended.
13. Seven Days that Divide the World by John Lennox (Zondervan 2011). A great little book, which serves as a fine introduction to old earth creationism. Recommended.
15. The Reason for God by Tim Keller (Dutton 2009). This is the 3rd time I have read through this work and it stands up as THE post-modern apologetic. A must read.
16. Darwin on Trial: Deluxe Edition by Phillip Johnson (IVP 2010). The best analysis and refutation of Darwinisn. A must read.
18. Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality by David Baggett and Jerry Walls (Oxford 2011). A well argued but dense work for the moral argument for the existence of God. Highly recommended for those with a background in philosophy.
19. How We Got the Bible by Neil Lightfoot (Baker 2003). A readable history of how Bibles went from scrolls written by hand in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to the plethora of translations we have today. Recommended.
21. The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer, Jr. (Zondervan, 1982). A helpful book dealing alleged discrepancies but a bit dated.
22. The Big Book of Difficulties by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe (Baker, 1992). Not as handy as Archer’s book but still well worth consulting.
23. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Newness, 1905). My son and I finished the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes last year and had a blast working through the sequel.
28. Is God A Moral Monster? by Paul Copan (Baker 2011). A wonderful survey of the Old Testament with clear, concise answers. Highly recommended.
30. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona (Kregel 2004). A very good overview of the arguments for the historicity of the resurrection. Recommended.
34. Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig (Crossway 2008). I have read through this book at least three times and am blessed every time. Highly recommended.
35. The Myth of Junk DNA by Jonathan Wells (Discovery Institute 2011). Dr. Wells debunks a common objection to intelligent design. Short but effective.
36. Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe (Free Press, 2006 ed.). A classic that is often ridiculed by materialists but yet to be refuted!
37. Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer (HarperOne 2010 edition). Another classic but a long and difficult read.
42. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith by Douglas Groothuis (IVP 2011). THE text-book for apologetics. Don’t let the size of the book intimidate, it is readable yet truly comprehensive. Amazing.
43. Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics by Doug Powell (Holman 2006). The entries are short but still handy. Recommended.
44. A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt (Vintage 1990 Edition). A classic ode to following your conscience. Highly recommended.
45. The Resurrection of Jesus: A Dialogue between N.T. Wright and John Dominic Crossan by Robert Stewart, ed. (Fortress Press 2005). An interesting but frustrating dialogue between two great New Testament scholars.
46. Holman Quick Source Guide to Understanding Creation by Mark Whorton and Hill Roberts (Holman 2008). The Holman Guides are always good to keep close even if they aren’t as extensive as say the Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics.
48. Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate Between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan Edited by Paul Copan (Baker Academic 1999). A fine read but how one can peruse this and not be dazed and confused by Crossan’s positions is beyond me.
50. The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian (WND 2005). How did liberals win the PR war in re: to so-called “same-sex marriage” and the butchering of unborn children? Kupelian does a good job of outlining it.
51. Letters to a Young Progressive by Mike S. Adams (Regnery 2013). Professor Adams has long been one of my favorite columnists and this book is a must read. I highly recommend it.
52. A Conservative History of the American Left by Daniel J. Flynn (Crown 2008). One of the few books in the last few years that I have read multiple times. A must read.
54. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson (Penguin 2009). A wonderful and readable economic history that is a must for any and all wanna be policy wonks and political junkies.
55. God & Man at Yale by William F. Buckley (Regnery 1986 ed.) A stunning indictment of Buckley’s alma mater, which envisioned the takeover of academia by the secular left. A must.
56. Reagan’s War: The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism by Peter Schweizer (Anchor 2004). A compelling overview of one man’s determination to destroy the evil of Soviet communism.
I am currently re-reading The Apologetics Study Bible (B&H 2007), A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen (Sentinel 2007), Intellectuals and Society (revised and expanded) by Thomas Sowell (Basic 2012), The Last Command by Timothy Zahn (Spectra 1994) Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen C. Meyer (HarperOne 2013) and Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America by Mark Levin (Threshold 2012). So far, I recommend them all.
This man is the James Bond of church! Where the heck did he come from? Where do they even make pastors like this? I’ve been in the church and in campus groups for the last 20 years, and I haven’t met a single church leader who read books like this.
I really don’t know what to say about this list. I am just so blown away. Can anyone tell me why it is that there is only one Pastor Matt? What’s wrong with all the other pastors, or is it just that I haven’t heard about any of the good ones in my travels? Is your pastor like this? Does he mention ideas from these books in his preaching?
By the way, you can friend Matt on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. Recommended!
UPDATE: He’s written a new post explaining how he is able to read so many books.