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Welcome to the final installment of the For Aslan Christmas Gift Guides.  This guide will help you find a great gift for your evangelical theology nerd loved ones. This list is a mixture of really great books you can get for cheap and multi-volume collections that most theology nerds are too poor to buy for themselves.  These are all great gifts for your pastor, youth pastor, poor seminarian, theological blogger, or armchair theologian.

THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $0-$25

A Little Exercise for Young Theologians by Helmut Thielicke$7.19

Thielicke Young Theologians

(http://www.christianbook.com/a-little-exercise-for-young-theologians/helmut-thielicke/9780802811981/pd/2811981?product_redirect=1&Ntt=2811981&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP)

If you know someone in seminary or Bible college, I implore you to buy them this book.  This book is a swift kick in the gut to pride that can swell up when people get a semester’s worth of theology and Greek under their belts.  Thielicke provides a great reminder that the study of God produces humility when done properly.

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler$8.99

Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

(http://www.amazon.com/The-Explicit-Gospel-Re-Lit/dp/1433530031/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354111467&sr=8-1&keywords=explicit+gospel)

Matt Chandler is one of my favorite preachers alive.  He is an excellent example of biblical preaching, and he has glorified God throughout his suffering with cancer (Don’t Waste Your Cancer an Interview with Matt Chandler).

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney$10.87

Whitney Spiritual Disciplines

(http://www.amazon.com/Spiritual-Disciplines-Christian-Pilgrimage-Growth/dp/1576830276)

Most young Christians that ask their youth pastor how to grow “deeper” in their faith will receive an answer somewhere along the lines of “Pray and read your Bible.”  This is true, but Donald Whitney provides very real and practical steps in this modern classic.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer$11.99

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

(http://www.christianbook.com/knowing-god-j-i-packer/9780830816507/pd/1650X?item_code=WW&netp_id=101130&event=ESRCG&view=details)

Other than the Bible, this is my favorite book on earth.

Martin Luther Bobblehead$18.95

Luther Bobblehead

(http://oldlutheran.cybrhost.com/oldlutheran/page.php?page=store&Screen=PROD&Store_Code=OL&Product_Code=800&Category_Code=HO)

Does anyone really need a Martin Luther bobblehead? No.  Would many people appreciate it as a gift? Yes.

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones$19.48

Sermon on Mount by Martyn Lloyd Jones

(http://www.amazon.com/Studies-Sermon-Mount-Martyn-Lloyd-Jones/dp/080280036X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354112352&sr=8-1&keywords=sermon+on+the+mount+martyn)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a brilliant expositor of the Bible.  This is a very long book, but it is worth the price and the time needed to read it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography by Eberhard Bethge$32.34

Bethge Bonhoeffer

(http://www.amazon.com/Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Biography-Eberhard-Bethge/dp/0800628446/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354111563&sr=1-2&keywords=dietrich+bonhoeffer+biography)

This is the exemplary biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Everyone loves Bonhoeffer, conservative evangelicals and theological liberals alike.  If you want to get them an actual Bonhoeffer book, go for Discipleship or Life Together.

THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $25-$50

Spurgeon’s Sermons, 5 Volumes by Charles H. Spurgeon$49.99

Spurgeon's Sermons

(http://www.christianbook.com/spurgeons-sermons-5-volumes/charles-spurgeon/9781598568325/pd/568325?en=google-pla&kw=church-and-pastoral-40-60&p=1167941&gclid=CL2b7Mfr8bMCFQU5nAoduikAXg)

Spurgeon was amazing.  All theology nerds get a bit geeked out about Spurgeon.  Plus, this set looks great on a bookshelf.

THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $50-$100

God, Revelation, and Authority, 6 Volumes by Carl F. H. Henry$96.99

Carl F. H. Henry God, Revelation, and Authority

(http://www.christianbook.com/god-revelation-authority-6-volumes/carl-henry/9781581340563/pd/40567?product_redirect=1&Ntt=40567&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP)

Carl F. H. Henry founded Christianity Today.  He was one of the great evangelical voices of the 20th century, and this is the pinnacle of Henry’s scholarship.

THEOLOGY NERD GIFTS – $100+

Church Dogmatics, 14 Volumes by Karl Barth – $129.99

Karl Barth Dogmatics

(http://www.christianbook.com/church-dogmatics-14-volumes/karl-barth/9781598564426/pd/564426?kw=karl%20barth%20dogmatics&event=PPCSRC&p=1018818&gclid=CISj0eTq8bMCFQkFnQod9EUAVQ )

I love Karl Barth. True, we have some major theological differences, but I respect him a ton.  This work usually costs upwards of $400, however, in recent years this publication has come out for much cheaper.

The Early Church Fathers, 38 Volumes – $229.99

Early Church Fathers

(http://www.christianbook.com/the-early-church-fathers-38-volumes/9781565630819/pd/30815?event=CF)

So…this is wicked expensive.  Most of these works are available online now.  But we all know reading a book on real paper is 1,000 times better than reading on an e-reader or computer screen.  This would be a great gift for someone if a bunch of people pitched in, but I personally think it’s a crazy amount of money to drop by yourself.

Until later friends…

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Happy International Literacy Day.

How to read a bookToday is International Literacy Today.  If you are reading this, you are literate.  Many people in the world (even many in the US) are illiterate.  I love reading, and I am thankful that my parents raised me to love reading.  I think literacy-building programs are great.  I used to help elementary kids that struggled with reading, and I recommend for you to do the same.  It is not that difficult to help, and if you have the time, volunteering your time to help the next generation is a very honorable thing to do.  In honor of International Literacy Day, I would like to give you a list of ten of books that I have enjoyed over the past couple of years.

Ten Books I’ve Enjoyed in the Last Two Years (and You Might Like Them Too)

(In No Particular Order)

1. Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Non-fiction/Theology)

I have blogged about this book before (Life Together), so I won’t say much about it.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my heroes.  In my opinion, this book is one of his best.  I highly recommend it.

2. The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon (Fiction/Mystery)

Micahel Chabon Final SolutionThis is a great detective story.  Michael Chabon is a superb writer.  There were times that I would interrupt Jen from whatever she was doing to read her a paragraph from this just to share the wonderful prose Chabon had produced (nerdy I know).  This is a detective story set during the Holocaust era (hence “Final Solution).  The detective is a once-great, now old and feeble detective (meant to be Sherlock Holmes), and this is his final case (hence “Final Solution”).  It is a very short book, and it is well worth the time to read it.

3.  American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Non-Fiction/Biography)

American Lion Andrew JacksonI am not an American history buff, so I can’t really critique the history of this book.  I can say that I enjoyed it, and that it won the Pulitzer.  I have blogged at least twice about the manliness of Andrew Jackson.  Although I differ from Andrew Jackson in some ways politically, I respect him as a man and a leader.

4. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis (Fiction)

That Hideous StrengthI just recently read C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy.  I have been wanting to read them for almost 10 years, and I finally got around to it this summer.  I was not disappointed.  I recommend reading all three.  That Hideous Strength is the third volume, and, I think, the best.  It is a book about the clash of worldviews and the academy.  It is very entertaining, and Lewis’s pithy humor shines forth throughout.

5.  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken (Non-Fiction/Auto-biography)

A Severe MercyThis book is beautiful.  It tells the story of a couple and their journey of faith and suffering.  It is well-written, and you will cry if you read it.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Fiction)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows BookI loved reading the entire Harry Potter series (even though most of it was via audio-book). And yes, I am a Christian and I like Harry PotterDeathly Hallows was a great book.  It tied the story together well, and it was LOADS BETTER than the movies.

7. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark Noll (Non-Fiction/Christian History)

Turning Points by Mark NollThis is my favorite general Church History book.  Mark Noll is a superb historian – and a friendly person.  I have recently been in some correspondence with Mark Noll, and I have found him to be extremely personable.  This book is a great introduction to Christian history.  I have read it twice in the past three years, and I recommend it to anyone interested in Christian history.

8. The Code: Baseball’s Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct by Ross Bernstein (Non-fiction/Sports)

The Code: Baseball's Unwritten RulesIf you like baseball, you’ll love this book.  It answers all the great questions like: “When should you charge the mound?” or “Is it ok to steal signs?”  I love the cover too.  Nolan Ryan is a beast.  There are a score of great stories in this book from former and active players, coaches, and umpires.

9. For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler by Victoria Barnett (Non-Fiction/History)

For the Soul of the PeopleVictoria Barnett’s work on the Confessing Church is great.  This book details the resistance of people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemoeller, and Karl Barth to the Nazi regime.  It has proven invaluable to my research, and I heartily recommend it to you history buffs out there.

10. When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox World Series of 1906 by Bernard A. Weisberger (Non-Fiction/Sports)

When Chicago Ruled BaseballI love history, I love baseball, and I love the Cubs. So, this book was a great purchase for me.  It is very interesting reading about a World series where tickets cost less than a drink at a MLB game now.  This World Series featured Tinker, Evers, and Chance, as well as Mordecai Brown and other great players.

Happy International Literacy Day. Go read a book.

Until later friends…

Links to Get These Books

On Friday I posted a short post about the new Harry Potter film featuring an artistic rendering of my patronus.  I have not yet been able to see the movie.  We spent all weekend studying for the GRE, which went really well (although I can’t blog about it or its contents for fear of losing my soul based on all the things I had to sign before I took the test). After the GRE, Jen had her wisdom teeth removed – all four of ’em.  She is still recovering, but is doing much better today.  We have made a double-date with some friends of ours to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 on Thursday, and I am pumped.

I am very excited about this movie.  I resisted the Harry Potter craze as long as possible.  The first book came out when I was in middle school, and I can recall some lady at one of those traveling book fairs waxing eloquently about how it was such a great book blah, blah, blah.  I was a burgeoning teenager in no need of more childish literature involving magic and wizadry.  I ignored Harry Potter.  By the time I was in high school, Harry Potter was a full-blown phenomenon.  I, however, was a Tolkien fan.  I rigidly stood against the Harry Potter series as a childish challenger to the great Tolkien and Middle Earth.  Plus, I was (and am) a devout evangelical, and many people in my circles of influence saw the “sorcery” of Harry Potter as suspect at best.

Harry Potter Conjuring EvilIn college I had a whole heap of friends that geeked out over Harry Potter.  I watched half of one of the films with some of them on a trip, and although interesting, I did not get hooked.  To me it simply was not nearly as epic as Middle Earth (and I use the term epic intentionally as a literary term, not like all these half-ignorant teenagers that constantly spout “epic fail”).  This all changed once I got married.  My wife liked all the Harry Potter films, but had never read the books.  She asked me to watch the films with her before Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came to theaters.  I agreed, and I enjoyed the films this go around.  I enjoyed each film more as the plot took on darker and more adult themes (and I mean adult in the common sense of the word, not in the perverted sense employed by the moral Cretans that run “adult bookstores”).

Being the book-nerd that I am, I decided that we had to read all of the books before the next film was released.  Being a seminary student, I really did not have much time to read for pleasure.  So, we borrowed the audio books from the Louisville Public Library in order to listen on trips to Tennessee.  We loved listening to these readings by Jim Dale (although i will forever hate his rendition of “Weasley is our king”).

Order of the Phoenix Audio Book Jim DaleWe completed the series shortly before the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 was released, and we greatly enjoyed the entire experience.  This series is spectacularly written (although I do still prefer Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings).   I have no qualms about being a Christian and enjoying this series of books and films centered on wizadry.  In the midst of going through the books and watching the films, I have never once thought, “I should look into practicing magic myself.”  Some people may think that, but they are already mentally unhinged.  Some of the fears that some Christians have about the popularization of magic may have some merit, but the fact that the vast majority of the anti-Potterites also love the Narnia series or Tolkien is hypocritical.

Harry Potter is not a Christian series.  It does not have a hidden allegory of the gospel.  But like all good literature, it bears marks of common grace.  Virtue is lauded, although one will not find a perfect character in the series.  Self-sacrifice and love are also lauded, and to quote Jesus – and Bagheera from Disney’s Jungle Book – “Greater love has none than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  For these reasons, and many more, I heartily recommend the Harry Potter series to anyone.  I also recommend that you read this great post from Christian songwriter Andrew Peterson on reading Harry Potter as a Christian, it is the best I have read yet.

Andrew Peterson and Harry PotterSo, if you haven’t already. Go read the series, or at least watch the films.  You will enjoy them, and if you don’t, it is very likely that you are uncultured.

Until later friends…

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