Reading that shapes faith

In Lent this year, we will be studying the Bible together in groups and at home. The format will be the same as the “Wedding at Cana” homework we’ve been doing as a Church recently: to use our imagination to see the stories of the Bible from a new perspective.

There are many other books that can be helpful too: books about the Bible, about Jesus and about Christian Spirituality. Reading, or listening to audiobooks can help your faith grow. If you have access to Audible you can listen to many books on faith and Christian Spirituality: it can be very relaxing and peaceful to hear someone read to you.

If you are interested, here are three books I’m reading at the moment:

Three mile an hour God by Kosuke Koyama

I strongly recommend this book to everyone. Enjoyable, easy to read, insightful and encouraging… Kosuke Koyama is a Japanese Christian who teaches and writes about God to help people grow in faith. He reflects on the incarnation of Jesus and about the speed with which Jesus moves around – not in a car / aeroplane / train or even a bicycle… but walking pace:

Love has it’s speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different kind of speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed. It goes on in the depth of our life, whether we notice or not, at three miles an hour. It is the speed we walk, and therefore the speed the love of God walks.

Kosuke Koyama, Three mile an hour God

Perelandra by CS Lewis

CS Lewis is famous for the Narnia books, but Perelandra is science fiction rather than fantasy. It is the second book of the ‘Cosmic Trilogy’ which starts with “Out of the Silent Planet” and finishes with “That Hideous Strength”, CS Lewis takes the idea of the battle between good and evil and imagines worlds which have never known any evil. Perelandra is a bit like the garden of Eden before the fall of humanity. The descriptions are vivid and fabulous, and if you like science-fiction (and stories about the battle between good and evil) then a I can highly recommend these books.

I thought … that I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when we go swimming. I feel as if I were living in that roofless world of [Earth] where men walk undefended beneath naked heaven. It is a delight with terror in it! One’s own self to be walking from one good to another, walking beside Him as Himself may walk, not even holding hands. How has He made me so separate from Himself? How did it enter His mind to conceive such a thing? The world is so much larger than I thought. I thought we went along paths–but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path.

CS Lewis, Perelandra

Jesus and the Victory of God by NT Wright

I have been reading NT Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God for the last 6 months. It is an academic book exploring the historical Jesus: Who was Jesus? What were his motives? How did he teach, and what was his teaching about? Reading this book isn’t easy, but through NT Wright’s work I have gained fresh insights into the parables of Jesus, who Jesus considered the real enemy to be, how Jesus defines the nation of Israel, and what was the cause and result of Jesus’ death and resurrection. If you enjoy a challenging read, and want to get a fresh insight into Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection – then this may be the book for you.

Here’s a taste…

Did Jesus intend to found a ‘church’? The question is hopeless. Of course he didn’t; of course he did. The way the oft-repeated question puts it is impossibly anachronistic: it makes Jesus sound like a pioneer evangelist of the nineteenth century, throwing previous denominations to the winds and building his own tabernacle. Worse, it implies, almost with a sneer, that Jesus could hardly have envisaged the church as we know it today, or even as it has been for most of the last two thousand years; and that therefore the church stands condemned, untrue to the founder’s intentions.

What then did Jesus intend to do? The alternative offered by many who dismiss the church as a bad mistake is simply that Jesus came to offer individuals a new way of salvation, or perhaps a new form of religion. This, of course, is equally anachronistic; individualism is a comparatively modern, and largely western, phenomenon…

…Jesus did not intend to found a church because there already was one, namely the people of Israel itself. Jesus’ intention was therefore to reform Israel…

NT Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God