Wells, David. No Place for Truth. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.
Wells persuasively argues that it is not abstract ideas which shape people’s thinking (ideas have consequences) but the inculturation of ideas that shape people’s thinking. This is a helpful corrective to a pure intellectual history.
Given my work at the Press, I found some of the most helpful material to be on the democratization of American culture and how that has fostered both problematic individualism and problematic communities.
Jacobs, Alan. Breaking Bread with the Dead. Penguin, 2020.
Jacobs makes a case for reading past authors with whom we disagree. As typical for Jacobs the argument is supported by well-chosen literary examples and careful reflection.
Webster, John. “Sins of Speech.” God without Measure: Working Papers in Christian Theology: Virtue and Intellect. Vol. II. New York: T&T Clark, 2016.
This is a careful theological essay on the ethics of speech. Webster begins with the theological foundations in God and creation for virtuous speech, relates human nature to virtuous speech, describes how sin disorders speech, and then looks at how speech can be mortified and vivified for the regenerate person. I found the essay spiritually warm, and it had the effect of arousing desire for more God-honoring speech in my own life.
Amstutz, Mark R. Just Immigration: American Policy in Christian Perspective. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017.
This book provides a useful survey of the US immigration system, including analysis of the system’s strengths and weaknesses. Amstutz also surveys various church statements on immigration, and he faults them for making specific policy recommendations that are not tightly tied to biblical or theological principles. In general he finds these statements too favorable to illegal immigration. Amstutz praises a 2012 statement from the Lutheran Church: Missouri Synod for it statement “Immigrants Among Us: A Lutheran Framework for Addressing Immigration Issues” because it guides church members about their interactions with immigrants in their various vocations rather than making public policy pronouncements. While I agree with Amstutz that churches should not make public policy pronouncements, since that lies beyond the church’s competency and mission, I expected Amstutz as a Christian ethicist in this field to provide some public policy options supporting by argumentation. The fact that the churches should not bind Christian consciences to specific public policies doesn’t meant that Christians shouldn’t be thinking about the public policy. The lack of possible ways forward is a significant weakness of this book.
Porter, Stanley E. and Andrew W. Pitts. Fundamentals of New Testament Textual Criticism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015.
This is a good introduction to the basics of textual criticism.
Augustine of Hippo. The City of God, Books I–VII. Edited by Hermigild Dressler. Translated by Demetrius B. Zema and Gerald G. Walsh. Vol. 8. The Fathers of the Church. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1950.
In these books Augustine refutes those who claim that Rome suffered calamities because she turned from the traditional gods to Christianity by recounting disasters that befell Rome prior to Christianity and by pointing out the benefits that Christianity had brought even in the present trials. He also shows the absurdities and vices of the Roman gods.