The Professor’s Bookshelf: Dr. David Jones

This new series at Between the Times will highlight Southeastern faculty members as they share about books which they are enjoying now, books which have shaped them personally, and books they consistently recommend to others.

This week, we begin with Dr. David Jones.

Dr. Jones is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Director of the Th.M. program, and serves as the Associate Dean for Graduate Program Administration at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What are some books you are reading right now?

Two books I am reading right now are:

 

What are some of the books which have had the largest impact on your life, thinking, or teaching?

Four categories come to mind:

  • The works of C.S. Lewis.
  • The works of J.C. Ryle.
  • Reformation era literature from Luther, Calvin, and the Anabaptists.
  • Many biographies and autobiographies of great Christians, such as those of George Whitefield, C.H. Spurgeon, and many missionaries.

 

What are some books which you would recommend to a church member and why?

Two books which I think would be helpful for church members are:

  • J. C. Ryle’s Holiness. It’s a classic book that many church members will have heard about, but never read. It challenges readers to apply the gospel to all areas of one’s life.
  • Bunyon’s Pilgrims Progress. Also a classic that will help church members to understand the landscape of the Christian life, including its trials and triumphs.

 

What are some books which you would recommend to a seminary student to read beyond what they might encounter in class and why?

Here are two which I would recommend:

In Case You Missed It

At The Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook reminds us that we need to stop commiserating about sin. Keelan writes:

We have all been there. Someone in our small group asks to have coffee and we agree. Soon, we are sitting across a table before work one morning and see the expression on their face. We know the expression, we have had the expression. It is guilt and shame mixed with concern. As the conversation progresses, it turns to confession. Our friend is struggling with a particular sin and knows that confession is the right approach to dealing with it. They are seeking help, and they have come to us.

 

At his personal blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted an article discussing how we as a society value entertainment and opinions more than we do information and truth.

Some back and forth between a football coach and a sports talk show host this week unintentionally illuminated one of our modern culture’s most dangerous condition. We value entertainment and opinions much more than we do information and truth…It’s more affirming when you read or hear something that simply dismisses everyone who disagrees with you as mentally or morally inferior. And it’s more infuriating to read someone who does that to you and your side. In both instances, our passions and emotions are inflamed (it is a hot take after all) and we are more likely to share or talk about it.

 

And when you share an article or video on social media, even if you talk about how horrible it is, you give the other person what they want—attention. So they serve up more takes and the cycle continues.

 

And that’s what hot takes do. They draw people in.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax writes that Christians must be myth busters.

MythBusters is one of The Discovery Channel’s most popular shows. It ran 15 seasons and still finds success in reruns.

 

Each episode focuses on a couple of popular beliefs or rumors, like “Can drinking Diet Coke and swallowing Mentos make your stomach explode?” or “Is running better than walking if you want to keep dry in the rain?” The hosts then test the beliefs through a number of experiments, to see if the idea holds up under scientific study.

 

MythBusters is a show that is comical and educational. It takes a common idea in society and shows how the myth gets “busted” from the scientific standpoint.

 

But you’ll never see a MythBusters episode about the purpose of life. You won’t find the hosts tackling the question, “What happens to us when we die?” Or “Is there a divine presence in the world?” These questions go beyond the stuff of scientific study. They are common and contested.

 

David Jones posted at the Intersect Project discussing the inauguration, Paula White, and the pitfalls of the prosperity gospel. Dr. Jones writes:

“To live with the object of accumulating wealth is anti-Christian.”

Charles Spurgeon uttered these words over a century ago to the then-largest congregation in all Christendom. Over the years, however, the message preached in some of the largest churches in the world has dramatically changed. This new gospel has been ascribed many names, such as the “name it and claim it” gospel, the “blab it and grab it” gospel, the “health and wealth” gospel, the “prosperity gospel” and “positive confession theology.”

No matter what name you use, though, the essence of this new gospel is the same: God wants believers to be physically healthy, materially wealthy and personally happy.

 

Also at the Intersect Project website, Laura Thigpen posted an article titled: “A Pro-Life Ethic: Caring for Aging Parents“.

Her frail hands, wrinkled with raised blue veins would meet my Granny’s hands as she held the cup to her thin lips. “Alright, now you have one more to take, Momma,” Granny would say, coaxing my great-grandmother to take the final sip to swallow the last of several pills.

 

As a child watching my Granny care for her nearly blind, hard-of-hearing elderly mother, I would try earnestly to imagine the woman before me as a young mother, up early preparing breakfast and organizing a household of seven children in the 1940’s. Sitting quietly, and contentedly, in her chair on the far side of the living room, I struggled then to see in her the once vibrant life she lived. But every now and then I would glimpse a small grin on her face, as if she weren’t so hard of hearing after all or perhaps she was remembering a pleasant memory.

 

Watching my Granny care for her mother in such a tender way, like caring for a young child, stirred an appreciation in my young heart for the beauty and delicacy of old age. Instead of seeing wrinkles I see stories of faith, adventure and hardships. Instead of gray hair I see the evidence of work, stress, grief and the wisdom of long-life. Instead of thin, easily bruised skin and oddly bent bones, I see a lifetime of very human vulnerability – such a soft shell to protect something so vital as the human heart.

In Case You Missed It

David Jones recently published an article at the Intersect Project website titled: “Jesus, Paul and Beyond: Work Is Everywhere in the Bible.” Dr. Jones writes:

Work: Few of us are fond of the concept. The terms “work” and “labor” don’t usually prompt us to smile. Conversely, everyone likes the weekend. TGIF, right? So why do we like the weekend? Because we don’t have to go to work! And when the alarm goes off on Monday morning, we wish it were still the weekend. But is this perspective biblical? Is it inherently satisfying? Might there be some redeeming quality to work? Let’s take a closer look.

 

Bible scholars tell us the concept of work is mentioned, explicitly or implicitly, more than 800 times in Scripture. I have not attempted to track down and catalog all of these references, but this statistic seems reasonable to me. Consider just a few of the examples and general teachings on work that stand out as you read through the Bible.

 

Bruce Ashford recently shared a post at his personal blog discussing why Christians should freely participate in Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Each year, any number of Christian writers and preachers extol the virtues of the Thanksgiving holiday, while lamenting the vices of its Black Friday successor. They equate Thanksgiving with gratitude and Black Friday with greed. They encourage Americans to participate in Thanksgiving and boycott Black Friday.

 

But that is not quite right. Christian should freely participate in both Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

 

Nathaniel Williams posted at the Intersect Project website asking: “After 2016, can we even be thankful anymore?” Nathaniel writes:

In a few weeks, 2016 will mercifully end.

 

This year’s been a doozy. Terror attacks. Zika. Police shootings. Racial tension. Syria. Floods. Fires. The deaths of David Bowie, Prince, Merle Haggard, Muhammed Ali, Harper Lee, Gene Wilder, Elie Wiesel, Leonard Cohen, Gwen Ifill and countless other talented men and women. Even Hollywood produced a disappointing crop of summer films.

 

And then there was the most outlandish Presidential election in our lifetimes — a contest between a man accused of bullying and a woman investigated by the FBI. The candidates’ embarrassing rhetoric was only eclipsed by that of their followers, who filled public spaces with anger, name-calling and vitriol.

 

This year has been so bad that Richard Clark of Christianity Today dubbed it “the year of living hopelessly.” Chris Rock famously Tweeted (in June, no less), “I wish this year would stop already it’s just [too] much.”

 

Nevertheless, we will all soon gather around Thanksgiving tables. We’ll be prompted to share what we’re grateful for. So we have to ask the question: After 2016, can we even be thankful anymore?

 

Dr. Joe McKeever recently shared some advice for those who are planning to go into the ministry.

You say the Lord has called you into His work. You’re still young and you’re excited, although with a proper amount of fear and uncertainty on what all this means.

 

You’re normal.  Been there, felt that.

 

We might have cause to worry if the living God touched your life and redirected it into His service and you picked yourself up and went on as though nothing had happened.  Amos said, “I was gathering sycamore fruit, and the Lord God called me.”  He said, “The lion roars and you will fear. God calls and you will prophesy.”

 

The call of God is almost as life-changing as the original salvation experience itself. So, give thanks.  And give this a lot of prayerful thought.

 

Here are some thoughts for you as you go forward.  The list is not complete or exhaustive, but just to get you started.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless recently shared 8 miscalculations of many church leaders. Dr. Lawless writes:

My church consulting team and I often work with unhealthy churches; in fact, most churches who contact us have reached a significant level of disease before seeking help. Here are some of the miscalculations we see among leaders of these churches.