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Summer Reading Suggestions for Students

Summer-Reading-Suggestions

With summer already upon a good number of students, and summer in the not-too-distant future for others, I thought it might be helpful to put together a list of books that would make for worthy summer reading. I chose to focus on books that have been released in the past year or so and which are aimed at the Christian market. Whether you are a student or not, I hope there’s something here that will catch your eye and bless you through the summer.

If you have an interest in apologetics…

The Air We Breathe: How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress, and Equality by Glen Scrivener. “Is Christianity history? Or is Christian history the deepest explanation of the modern world. Today in the west, many consider the church to be dead or dying. Christianity is seen as outdated, bigoted and responsible for many of society’s problems. This leaves many believers embarrassed about their faith and many outsiders wary of religion. But what if the Christian message is not the enemy of our modern Western values, but the very thing that makes sense of them. In this fascinating book, Glen Scrivener takes readers on a journey to discover how the teachings of Jesus not only turned the ancient world upside down, but continue to underpin the way we think of life, worth, and meaning. Far from being a relic from the past, the distinctive ideas of Christianity, such as freedom, kindness, progress and equality, are a crucial part of the air that we breathe. As author Glen Scrivener says in his introduction: ‘The extraordinary impact of Christianity is seen in the fact that we don’t notice it’.”

If you have an interest in culture…

Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution by Carl Trueman. “How did the world arrive at its current, disorienting state of identity politics, and how should the church respond? Historian Carl R. Trueman discusses how influences ranging from traditional institutions to technology and pornography moved modern culture toward an era of ‘expressive individualism.’ Investigating philosophies from the Romantics, Nietzsche, Marx, Wilde, Freud, and the New Left, he outlines the history of Western thought to the distinctly sexual direction of present-day identity politics and explains the modern implications of these ideas on religion, free speech, and personal identity.”

If you have an interest in worldview…

Lies We Are Told, the Truth We Must Hold: Worldviews and Their Consequences by Sharon James. “We are surrounded by lies. They are incorporated into the worldview of our culture. We daily absorb them, and these lies can have deadly effects on individuals, societies and whole civilisations. Sharon James investigates the origins of some of these lies and looks at how we have got to the point where ‘my truth’ is as valid as ‘your truth’, and absolute truth is an outdated way of thinking. In examining the evidence of history, she highlights the consequences of applying dangerous untruths. She also looks at how Christians often respond to the culture’s lies – in silence, acquiescence or celebration of them – and why these responses can be as harmful as the lies themselves. This book aims to equip Christians to navigate the minefield of current claims. To understand our inherent human significance, to know genuine freedom, and to work for real justice, we need to know the truth.”

If you have an interest in our times…

Brave by Faith: God-Sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World by Alistair Begg. “What does it look like to live with joy in a society that does not like what Christians believe, say or do? It’s tempting to grow angry, keep our heads down, retreat or just give up altogether. But this isn’t the first time that God’s people have had to learn how to live in a pagan world that opposes God’s rule. In this realistic yet positive book, renowned Bible teacher Alistair Begg examines the first seven chapters of Daniel to show us how to live bravely, confidently and obediently in an increasingly secular society. Readers will see that God is powerful and God is sovereign, and even in the face of circumstances that appear to be prevailing against his people, we may trust him entirely. We can be as brave as Daniel if we have faith in Daniel’s God!”

If you have any interest in social justice…

Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice by Thaddeus Williams. “God does not suggest, he commands that we do justice. Social justice is not optional for the Christian. All injustice affects others, so talking about justice that isn’t social is like talking about water that isn’t wet or a square with no right angles. But the Bible’s call to seek justice is not a call to superficial, kneejerk activism. We are not merely commanded to execute justice, but to ‘truly execute justice.’ The God who commands us to seek justice is the same God who commands us to ‘test everything’ and ‘hold fast to what is good.’ Drawing from a diverse range of theologians, sociologists, artists, and activists, Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth, by Thaddeus Williams, makes the case that we must be discerning if we are to ‘truly execute justice’ as Scripture commands. Not everything called ‘social justice’ today is compatible with a biblical vision of a better world. The Bible offers hopeful and distinctive answers to deep questions of worship, community, salvation, and knowledge that ought to mark a uniquely Christian pursuit of justice.”

If you have an interest in relationships…

Pure: Why the Bible’s Plan for Sexuality Isn’t Outdated, Irrelevant, or Oppressive by Dean Inserra. “Few things bring more immediate scrutiny and impassioned angst among young adult Christians today than hearing the words ‘purity culture.’ Serious flaws from purity culture deserve to be scrutinized, especially given its lasting negative effects on some raised in the movement. Many Christians today reject the movement—and all that it stood for—wholesale. However, we can’t ignore the clear sexual ethics of the Bible. Pure dives into the big picture of God’s design for men and women regarding sexuality, and seeks to reclaim one of the clearest teaching in the scriptures: the call to sexual purity. While purity culture gets the truth right, the approach and gospel elements it espouses are often wrong. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, but rather celebrate God’s great design for marriage and the loving boundaries he has put in place for our joy, protection, and flourishing.”

If you have an interest in masculinity…

The Men We Need: God’s Purpose for the Manly Man, the Avid Indoorsman, or Any Man Willing to Show Up by Brant Hansen. “The world needs real men, real bad. And there are all sorts of conflicting ideas and messages about what a ‘real man’ is (and is not). Is a real man one who hunts, loves sports, grills meat, fixes cars, and climbs mountains? Sure, sometimes. But that’s not really the point of being a man and it’s not the purpose for which men were made. Into our cultural confusion, Brant Hansen paints a refreshingly specific, compelling picture of what men are made to be: ‘Keepers of the Garden.’ Protectors and defenders. He calls for men of all interests and backgrounds (including ‘avid indoorsmen’ like himself) to be ambitious about the right things and to see themselves as defenders of the vulnerable, with whatever resources they have. Using short chapters loaded with must-have wisdom and Brant’s signature humor, The Men We Need explains the essence of masculinity in a fresh, thoughtful, and entertaining way that will inspire any man who dares to read it.”

If you have an interest in technology…

Terms of Service: The Real Cost of Social Media by Chris Martin. “Do we use social media, or are we being used by it? Social media is brilliant and obscene. It sharpens the mind and dulls it. It brings nations together and tears them apart. It perpetuates, reveals, and repairs injustice. It is an untamed beast upon which we can only hope to ride, but never quite corral. What is it doing to us? In Terms of Service, Chris Martin brings readers his years of expertise and experience from building online brands, coaching authors and speakers about social media use, and thinking theologically about the effects of social media. As you read this book, you will Learn how social media has come to dominate the role the internet plays in your life; Learn how the ‘social internet’ affects you in ways you may not realize; Be equipped to push back against the hold the internet has on your mind and your heart.”

If you have an interest in Christian living…

You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic. “Work. Family. Church. Exercise. Sleep. The list of demands on our time seems to be never ending. It can leave you feeling a little guilty–like you should always be doing one more thing. Rather than sharing better time-management tips to squeeze more hours out of the day, Kelly Kapic takes a different approach in You’re Only Human. He offers a better way to make peace with the fact that God didn’t create us to do it all. Kapic explores the theology behind seeing our human limitations as a gift rather than a deficiency. He lays out a path to holistic living with healthy self-understanding, life-giving relationships, and meaningful contributions to the world. He frees us from confusing our limitations with sin and instead invites us to rest in the joy and relief of knowing that God can use our limitations to foster freedom, joy, growth, and community. Readers will emerge better equipped to cultivate a life that fosters gratitude, rest, and faithful service to God.”

If you have an interest in decision-making…

Demystifying Decision-Making: A Practical Guide by Aimee Joseph. “On an average day, people makes countless decisions: Should I get out of bed or hit the snooze button? What should I have for breakfast? Where should we go for this year’s vacation? While some decisions are easy to make, others can leave individuals paralyzed and full of anxiety. As Christians living in an increasingly individualistic society, what’s the best strategy for making decisions that honor God while becoming more like him in the process? Writing from her own experience and pointing to biblical examples, Aimee Joseph offers a biblical and theological framework for decision-making. She explains God’s design for humans as decision-makers, the biblical model for making choices, common wrong approaches, practical tips, and what to do when you’ve made a poor decision. With the philosophy that ‘as we shape our decisions, our decisions shape us,’ Joseph teaches readers how to worship and draw closer to Christ through their daily decisions.”

If you have an interest in ethics…

50 Ethical Questions: Biblical Wisdom for Confusing Times by J. Alan Branch. “Christians cannot escape difficult questions. What we need is guidance to think well. In 50 Ethical Questions, J. Alan Branch addresses questions about ethics, sexuality, marriage and divorce, bioethics, and Christian living. Readers will find biblical and reasonable guidance on their questions, including: What are the differences between individual and systemic racism? I’ve been invited to a same-sex wedding. Should I attend? Should Christians use vaccines from cell lines derived from aborted babies? I’m a Christian in an abusive marriage. What should I do? Is it morally permissible for a Christian to conceal-carry a firearm? With Branch’s help, you can navigate ethical challenges with care and conviction.”

If you have an interest in sexual purity…

The Death of Porn: Men of Integrity Building a World of Nobility by Ray Ortlund. “Pornography may seem inescapable, but God can free us from its destructive power. The gospel replaces the dehumanizing lies of pornography with this surprising truth: God created us as royalty. How then can we reclaim our God-given identity to take a stand against—and ultimately starve—the predatory porn industry? In The Death of Porn, Ray Ortlund writes six personal letters, as from a father to his son. Ideal for individuals and small groups, it will give hope to men who have been misled by porn into devaluing themselves and others. Through Scripture and personal stories, Ortlund assures readers that God loves them the most tenderly in their moments of deepest shame. The Death of Porn inspires men to come together in new ways to fight the injustice of porn and build a world of nobility for every man and woman—for the sake of future generations.”

If you have an interest in classic literature…

Read and Reflect with the Classics by Karen Swallow Prior. “Jane Eyre. Frankenstein. Tess of the d’Urbervilles. You’re familiar with these pillars of classic literature. You have seen plenty of Frankenstein costumes, watched the film adaptations, and may even be able to rattle off a few quotes, but do you really know how to read these books? Do you know anything about the authors who wrote them, and what the authors were trying to teach readers through their stories? Do you know how to read them as a Christian? Taking into account your old worldview, as well as that of the author? In these beautiful cloth-over-board editions bestselling author, literature professor, and avid reader Karen Swallow Prior will guide you through” a number of classic works of literature including Sense and Sensibility, Heart of Darkness, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and The Scarlet Letter.

If you have an interest in the local church…

The Loveliest Place: The Beauty and Glory of the Church by Dustin Benge. “Dear. Precious. Lovely. The Bible describes the church in extraordinary ways, even using beautiful poetry and metaphors. How does this compare to how Christians today describe the church? Unfortunately, many believers focus more on its mission, structure, or specific programs than on its inherent beauty. It’s time to spark a renewed affection for the church. In The Loveliest Place, Dustin Benge urges Christians to see the holy assembly of God’s redeemed people in all its eternal beauty. He explains what makes the church lovely, including the Trinitarian relationship, worship, service, and gospel proclamation. For those who have never learned to view the church as God sees it, or have become disillusioned by its flaws, this book is a reminder that the corporate gathering of believers is a reflection of God’s indescribable beauty.”


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