Here are some of my reading projects for the first quarter of 2009. Some interesting material here that might inspire a few posts down the line.

Bible in Estonian
I’ve never read through the Bible cover to cover in Estonian so I figured it’s about time I give it a shot. We were warned in seminary that we might feel that the Bible’s devotional value had been taken from us for a while until we learned to read it again with new lenses. In a similar way, I’m finding that passages that always felt familiar in the past sometimes feel clumsy and, well foreign. Even so, somehow the Psalms have been opened up to me in a new way through reading them in another language and that has been a real blessing. I also find that when I start my day reading my devotional passages out loud in Estonian, my language skills and pronunciation seem sharper throughout the day. An added benefit!

Calvin’s Institutes
In honor of the 500th birthday of Jean Calvin, Princeton Theological Seminary has set up a reading plan to work through Calvin’s Institutes over the course of a year. If you’d like to join in on this, you can find the readings on their webpage. You can also subscribe to their RSS feed or have daily readings delivered to you by email. It seems to me that a good many Calvin-nots are all too eager to throw out the book, the baby and the bathwater based upon a misreading or a compressed version of his doctrines. I think he deserves at least to be heard in full. So far, I’ve found Calvin to be an accessible, pastoral, disciplined and of course insightful theologian. I think you will too.

The following books are among many that have been waiting patiently for me to take them off the shelf with attentive purpose.

“After our Likeness” by Miroslav Volf – In conversation with Catholic and Orthodox voices, Volf attempts a theology of the church for the Free Church. As a Presbyterian serving largely in Free Churches, I think Volf’s work here is something that’s been missing. On one hand, Free Churches are growing incredibly fast especially in the southern hemisphere. On the other, their very “freedom” often implies autonomy from the Church (big C). Is that what’s really going on? Does it have to be that way? Does it matter? I’m looking forward to seeing what Volf has to say.

“Jesus and the Victory of God” N.T. Wright – This book addresses the historical man Jesus and deals with the various pictures of him that we find in the NT. Who was the historical Jesus? What do we know about him? What can we know about him? And why did he behave and speak the way he did? The fad these days is to pare down the historical Jesus to a few harmless details and then “re-imagine” the rest. Wright holds us to the scripture and demands that we both read it afresh and take it seriously.

“The Open Secret” by Leslie Newbigin – A classic by one of the 20th century’s mission masterminds. Newbigin rocks. He really gets it. This one has been on my list for a long time and I’m really looking forward to getting in.

Ok … lots of serious stuff in there. Have you got any good suggestions for light reading this year? I’m up for just about anything. The comments are open!

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wow, Matt…well nobody can fault you for a light reading schedule!! The entire Bible in Estonian AND Calvin’s institutes?? ha ha ha… well maybe you can read some of the Bible to Kevin and Miriam. Not sure how well they’d take to Calvin though.