Someone walked up to on Sunday and asked if I could recommend any resources in understanding how Christ/the New Testament relates to the Old Testament. I loved this question because most of our Bible is the Old Testament, which has a radical orientation to Christ and New Testament teachings. In the words of St. Augustine, “The New is in the Old contained, and the Old in the New explained.” Here are some great books to read that will unlock the Old Testament for you:
The Messiah in the Old Testament – This is a classic work on the topic. Kaiser does a great job of taking you through text after text to show where there is Christological fulfillment and where there isn’t.
The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament – This is a very accessible entry into this whole field of study. Clowney traces the redemptive story, paying attention to key narratives, showing how they point to Christ and push the whole biblical narrative along.
The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses – This book totally changed how I viewed the Old Testament Law. While, I don’t agree with everything in it, and Poythress probably over interprets some texts, its a marvelous paradigm shift for understanding the role of the law both now and then.
The Drama of Scripture – for a single volume summary of how the whole biblical story hangs together, I can’t think of a better one this book by Mike Goheen and Bartholomew.
*There many other more advanced books I love in this area, including the NSBT series, anything by N.T. Wright, and Beale’s corpus.
I haven’t read it but I hear Jesus on Every Page is a really good entry level book on this topic.
It’s hard to list five favorite books on evangelism, not because I command a vast knowledge of evangelistic literature, but because there are so many different types of “texts” or fields of knowledge that motivate and inform evangelism. Evangelism is a way of thinking first and a way of speaking second.
For example, a great missionary biography, like Amy Carmichael or Adoniram Judson, can awaken evangelistic zeal and commitment to perseverance through the difficulty of mission. Apologetic books stimulate evangelistic wisdom. Penetrating cultural texts, like Peter Berger’s A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural or David Brooks recent New York Times column on the vacuous, contemporary pursuit of “meaningfulness,” motivate us to communicate the deeper, broader, grander alternative to modernity and relativistic consumer culture—the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Practical books can fill in knowledge gaps, strengthen skill, and inspire with stories. Aesthetic texts, like poetry, fiction, or art can remind you how beautiful the gospel is, and its centerpiece, Jesus our Lord. They remind us to show how attractive Christ is, not just how reasonable his offer. Then there’s the human texts. A good evangelist will not merely address but also readpeople. There’s nothing like spending time with a skeptic, seeker, or sufferer to motivate prayerfulness and excitement about the relevance of Jesus Christ as the truth for doubters, the way for seekers, and the life for sufferers. If we read them well, we will see something of the gospel in their doubt, curiosity, and difficulty.
By now you are probably thinking this was all just a ploy to list more than five books! So, without dragging on, here are five books from different fields that are my “favorites” in evangelism.
I’m reading through Kevin Vanhoozer’s Faith Speaking Understanding: Performing the Drama of Doctrine, and there’s a tweet on every page. So, instead of loading up people’s twitter feeds, I thought it would be more merciful to list out some quotes here.
A brief set up. Vanhoozer is helping us see how doctrine must be done, which is good for the ivory tower preachers, theologians, & bookish types. When Jesus said to “observe all I have commanded,” he was saying more than “take notes” (xiii). And yet, desire for God, without doctrine, is blind (xiv). Doctrine gives direction for bearing faithful witness, for speaking understanding” (1). How, then, does doctrine speak? Through the church, of course, for good or for ill, depending on you.
Here are a string of quotes that articulate the church’s glorious responsibility to live our doctrine as a theatre of the gospel in and for the world:
The church is ultimately a triune production, a theater of the gospel wherein we begin to see how God in Christ is “reconciling the world to himself.”
The church is not only the “people of the book” but also “the (lived) interpretation of the book.”
Doctrine serves as a finishing school for disciples by helping them to view their lives as Christ did his, as caught up in the area drama of redemption.
The church is the place where Christ rules by his word, which dwells in disciples’ hearts.
The church is not an empty space but a peopled place where God exhibits his gospel.
The church is the public revelation of the mystery of salvation.
The evangelical church finds itself in danger of being indoctrinated by culture rather than by Scripture.
The argument in the present book is that the church is a theater of the gospel in which disciples stage previews of the coming kingdom of God.
Imagination is biblical reasoning in its Sunday best, lost in wonder at the creativity of the Creator.
There is nothing more authentic that being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, the prototype of true humanity.