I am going to address two topics in this post, so be sure to read long enough to catch both of them.
In just a moment I want to tell you about the next classic book of the Christian faith that we will be reading together. But first, I want to announce a special reading project that I’ll be leading.
The Cross He Bore
Easter is fast approaching and I think it would be both fun and worthwhile to read a book together as we prepare to remember the Lord’s death and to celebrate his resurrection. The book that always come to mind this time of year is Frederick Leahy’s The Cross He Bore. This is a series of thirteen meditations on the sufferings of the Redeemer, beginning with Gethsemane and ending in the outer darkness. In his Foreword to the book, Edward Donnelly says, “in rereading these chapters, I found myself more than once compelled by emotion to stop - and then to worship. I cannot help feeling that this is exactly how they were written and that the author’s chief desire is that each of us who reads should be brought to gaze in fresh understanding and gratitude upon ‘the Son of God,’ who loved me and give himself for me.”
This book ranks on my list of all-time favorites (read my review here) and I look forward to reading it again this Easter. I’d love to have you read it with me! I assure you that you will find it well worth the read. The book costs only $3.75 when you buy it from MonergismBooks.com. So why don’t you purchase a copy (or two or three) and we’ll read it together. We can begin reading it on Sunday March 29 and read one chapter per day in the thirteen days leading to (and including) Good Friday. I will post a brief reflection on the chapter each morning.
Reading the Next Classic Together
It is also time to think about the next classic book of the Christian faith that we will be reading together. The impetus for this project was the simple realization that, though many Christians want to read through the classics of the faith, few of us have the motivation to actually make it happen. This program allows us to read them together, providing both a level of accountability and the added of interest of comparing notes. Those who have participated in each of the programs will now have read Holiness by J.C. Ryle, Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen, The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross by A.W. Pink, The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I have benefited immensely from reading these books and know that others have, too.
Today I’d like to announce the next classic. My rationale for choosing this book was that it somehow just seemed to fit. Perhaps it had something to do with the media focus on race or perhaps it was something to do with recent celebrations of William Wilberforce’s life. But as I thought about what I wanted to read next, my thoughts were drawn to Wilberforce’s Real Christianity: Discerning True Faith from False Beliefs. Here is a brief description of the book: “William Wilberforce (1759-1833) came from a prosperous merchant family. A politician by age 21, his early years were relatively unremarkable, but his conversion to Christianity in 1785 soon changed that. Wilberforce committed himself to two ambitious callings: rousing professing Christians to understand the nature of true faith, and bringing about the end of slavery in England’s colonies. Real Christianity challenged the ruling classes of early 19th Century England more than any other writings. To this day, Real Christianity remains a compelling work that soundly teaches the tenets of evangelical faith and stirs the consciences of Christians.”
I do not think we can easily overestimate the impact of Wilberforce’s life. As I read biographies of him last year, as I watched the film that traced his life, I knew that sooner or later I would want to hear him in his own words; I’d want to hear that passion that drove him through year after year of conflict.
And so this seemed like a good opportunity to do just that. The book has just seven chapters so this will be just an eight week study (allowing a week to read the Introductory matter). But I trust it will be a valuable one. As always, you can buy the book at Monergism Books (and I believe you can also find it in various places online if you don’t mind reading electronically). If you scroll down a little bit on that page you’ll see two related books. If you would like a brief biographical sketch of Wilberforce’s life, Piper’s book is worth the read. The other book is (I believe) geared to children so may be worth reading to or with them.
We’ll begin reading Real Christianity on Thursday March 5 and continue reading one chapter per week until it is complete. Please read the introductory matter for March 5.
And do let me know if you’re going to participate in one or both of these projects.