Summer is upon us, so now is the time to plan your summer reading. As you craft your reading list, Intersect contributors would like to recommend their favorite books. We’ll share their recommendations over the coming weeks. (Read list 1, list 2, list 3, list 4 and list 5.)
This week, our contributors highlight books on the church, immigration, self-image and education — from authors Tim Keller, Cornelius Plantinga, Sharon Hodde Miller and Julia Alvarez.
Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City
by Tim Keller (Zondervan, 2012)
Doug Ponder: The breadth of Keller’s influence is surpassed only by the depth of his insights, which is why I think his books will one day be read like C. S. Lewis’ are now, that is, as profound works so ahead of their time that each author’s contemporaries ignored him to their own detriment.
Such is the significance of Center Church, Keller’s magnum opus on the intersection of the gospel, culture and the church. Borne of a brilliant mind and a tender heart, the book also distills decades of experience thinking through the dynamics of faithful Christian presence in the one of the most secular cities in America. In other words, if sociologists are even half-right about current cultural trends, then Tim Keller has written to you from your future. Tolle lege!
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin Books, 2010)
Brianna Copeland: Speaking to a timely cultural issue, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is a fictional work that tells the story of four sisters, their parents and their journey of immigration from the Dominican Republic to New York City. This novel is loosely based off of the author’s experience and no doubt reflects the struggle with home, identity, vocation and family that meet every immigrant in the United States.
Fiction can teach us more about how to be human than a hundred how-to books ever could, and for that reason I appreciate how Alverez’s novel showed me how to empathize with an experience that is different from my own.
Free of Me: Why Life Is Better When It’s Not about You
by Sharon Hodde Miller (Baker Books, 2017)
Lanie Anderson: Sharon Hodde Miller was an unfamiliar name to me until I read one of her articles about women in seminaries. Miller has a Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and wrote her dissertation on women and calling. I stumbled on more of her blogs, articles and podcasts about women following God’s call to seminary when I was wrestling with this very call to move six hours from home and do the same. In some ways, Miller’s work was the final push I needed towards obedience.
Free of Me: Why Life Is Better when It’s Not about You is Hodde’s debut book. Hodde writes about the many “mirrors”– family, friends, possessions, calling and church — that we use to shape our self-image. These are good gifts from God, but we often make them more about us and less about Him. Hodde reminds us that to be free in God’s kingdom paradoxically means to die to self: “God wants us to be our truest selves, and that is only possible through Christ.” This book is a quick summer read with valuable and practical insights.
Engaging God’s World: A Reformed Vision of Faith, Learning and Living
by Cornelius Plantinga (Eerdmans, 2002)
Sam Morris: I highly recommend Cornelius Plantinga’s Engaging God’s World for anyone who is entering college, graduate, post-graduate studies.
This book is also helpful for someone who wants to see their faith breakthrough into their daily lives as an accountant, businessman or parent.
What books are you reading this summer?