Hammerling, Roy. The Lord’s Prayer in the Early Church: The Pearl of Great Price. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
I found this book most useful for gathering the sources in which the Father’s discuss the Lord’s Prayer. Hammerling’s own discussion is somewhat dry and often critical. Nonetheless, there are several parts that provide helpful summaries of patristic teaching.
Grant, Edward. The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional, and Intellectual Origins. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Grant argues that the Scientific Revolution could not have taken place without advances in science in medieval Europe from the twelfth century forward. While granting that foundations of science existed in other cultures and that Europe drew on earlier scientific advances in those cultures, Grant argues that the unique combination of factors that made the scientific revolution possible only existed in post-medieval Europe. He particularly points to three factors, the translation of Greek and Arabic scientific works into Latin in the middle ages, the rise of the medieval university, and a conception of theology that made science possible.
Principe, Lawrence M. The Scientific Revolution: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
This is another superb entry in OUP’s “Very Short Introduction” series. The value of the book is probably best shown by select quotations from it:
“One easily overlooked feature of printing was its ability to reproduce images and diagrams. Illustrations posed a problem for the manuscript tradition since the ability to render drawings accurately depended upon the copyist’s draftsmanship, and often upon his understanding of the text. Consequently, every copy meant degradation for anatomical renderings, botanical and zoological illustrations, maps, charts, and mathematical or technological diagrams. Some copyists simply omitted difficult graphics. Printing meant that an author could oversee the production of a master woodcut or engraving, which could then produce identical copies easily and reliably. Under such conditions, authors were more willing and able to include image sin their texts, enabling the growth of scientific illustration for the first time (13-14).
“”It is hard to imagine the flood of data that poured into Europe from the New World. New plants, new animals, new minerals, new medicines, and reports of new peoples, languages, ideas, observations, and phenomena overwhelmed the Old World’s ability to digest them. This was true ‘information overload,’ and it demanded revisions to ideas about the natural world and new methods for organizing knowledge” (16).
“When early modern thinkers looked on the world, they saw a cosmos in the true Greek sense of that word, that is, a well-ordered and arranged whole. They saw the various components of the physical universe tightly interwoven with one another, and joined intimately to human beings and to God. Their world was woven together in a complex web of connections and interdependencies, its every corner filled with purpose and rich with meaning. Thus, for them, studying the world meant not only uncovering and cataloguing facts about its contents, but also revealing its hidden design and silent messages. This perspective contrasts with that of modern scientists, whose increasing specialization reduces their focus to narrow topics of study and objects in isolation, whose methods emphasize dissecting rather than synthesizing approaches, and whose chosen outlooks actively discourage questions of meaning and purpose. Modern approaches have succeeded in revealing vast amounts of knowledge about the physical world, but have also produced a disjointed, fragmented world that can leave human beings feeling alienated and orphaned from the universe” (21).
“At the present time, applications of magia naturalis and the whole idea of an interconnected world of sympathies and analogies are sometimes dismissed as irrational or superstitious. But this harsh judgment is faulty. It results from a certain smug arrogance and a failure to exercise historical understanding. What our predecessors did was to observe various mysterious and apparently similar phenomena in nature and to extrapolate thence into a more universal statement–a law of nature–about connections and the transmission of influences in the world. This extrapolation led to one tenet that they held that we do not; namely, that similar or analogous objects silently exert influence upon one another. Once that assumption is made, then the rest of the system builds upon it rationally. They were trying to understand the world; they were trying to make sense of things and trying to make use of the powers of nature. They moved inductively from observed or reported instances to a general principle and then deductively to its consequences and applications. We might choose to say, informed as we are by more recent studies, that the action between Sun and sunflower, or Moon and sea, or magnet and iron, can be better explained by something other than hidden knots of sympathy. But that does not permit us to say that their methods or conclusions were irrational, or that the beliefs and practices that came from them were ‘superstitious.’ If that leap were allowed, than every scientific theory that comes ultimately to be rejected in the course of the development of our understanding of the world–no doubt including some things that we today believe to be true explanations of phenomena–would have to be judged irrational and superstitious as well, rather than simply mistaken notions that were arrived at rationally given the ideas, perspectives, and information available at the time” (35).
“In order to understand early modern natural philosophy, it is necessary to break free of several common modern assumptions and prejudices. First, virtually everyone in Europe, certainly every scientific thinker mentioned in this book, was a believing and practising Christian. The notion that scientific study, modern or otherwise, requires an atheistic–or what is euphemistically called a ‘sceptical’–viewpoint is a 20th-century myth proposed by those who wish science itself to be a religion (usually with themselves as its priestly hierarchy). Second, for early moderns, the doctrines of Christianity were not opinions or personal choices. They had the status of natural or historical facts. Dissension obviously existed between different denominations over the more advanced points of theology, just as scientists today argue over finer points without calling into question the reality of gravity, the existence of atoms, or the validity of the scientific enterprise. Never was theology demoted to the status of ‘personal belief’; it constituted, like science today, both a body of agreed-upon facts and a continuing search for truths about existence. As a result, theological tenets were considered part of the data set with which early modern natural philosophers worked. Thus theological ideas played major part in scientific study and speculation–not as external ‘influences’, but rather as serious and integral parts of the world the natural philosopher was studying” (36).
Kjelgaard, Jim. Outlaw Red. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1953.
Caro, Robert. Master of the Senate. The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Knopf, 2002.
This volume provides a history of the Senate from its inception until Lyndon Johnson’s election as senator, a biography of Richard Russell, the most influential Southern Senator of the time and LBJ’s Senate mentor, and Johnson’s shaping of the positions of minority leader and majority leader into positions of real power in the Senate.
Caro, Robert. The Passage of Power. The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Knopf, 2012.
This volume tells the story of how LBJ was brought onto the Kennedy ticket, his failed efforts to hold onto power as vice president, the JFK assassination from Johnson’s perspective, and Johnson’s first year as president (filling out Kennedy’s term). This volume and the previous provide an excellent treatment of the civil rights struggle of the time as well as how the civil rights legislation of that time moved through Congress.
Oliphint, K. Scott. God With Us: Divine Condescension and the Attributes of God. Crossway, 2011.
This is a thick book of serious theology; it is certainly not a light read. But it is a worthwhile read. Oliphint aims to defend the aseity of God while not trimming the Bible statements that speak of God’s real interaction with his creation (Open Theism drops aseity; appeals to anthropopathism or anthropomorphism can trim the actual statements of Scripture). Oliphint sees the incarnation as a way forward. Just as the incarnate Son remained fully God while also taking on a human nature that brought limitations (Jesus necessarily remained omniscient as God while as a man was ignorant of some things), so God retains the attributes that are essential to his nature while entering into covenant with us and thereby picking up additional covenantal attributes that account for his relation with us. This brief summary does not do justice to the careful argumentation that Oliphint presents.
Johnson, Terry L. Contemporary Worship: Thinking About Its Implications for the Church. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2014.
Terry Johnson has written an excellent little book that in which he raises concerns about much of contemporary worship. He is concerned that much contemporary worship has less biblical content that older forms of worship. In this he highlights not only the content of music but also the order of service. He notes that older forms of worship included not only praise but confession of sin, thanksgiving, and extended time given to prayer, sequential reading of Scripture, and the sacraments. Johnson ties the shift to a move from worship as doxological to worship as evangelistic.
Johnson is also concerned about worship that targets demographics and in doing so divides congregations, in changes driven by pragmatism, in assuming that popular culture can by absorbed into worship without changing the meaning of worship, in further assuming that aesthetic judgments are all relative, and in despising traditions that are rich with theological value.
There are, of course, ministries that tend in the contemporary direction that do not fall under all of Johnson’s critiques while there are other ministries that might think themselves traditional which do fall under these critiques. Be that as it may, Johnson’s concerns about much American worship are biblical. It would be to the health of the church if they were given a wide hearing.
Altschuler, Glenn C. All Shook Up: How Rock ‘n’ Roll Changed America. Pivotal Movements in American History. Edited by David Hackett Fischer and James M. McPherson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
This history primarily looks at Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 1950s and early ’60s with a brief look at the music from the Beatles through the 1980s toward the end of the book. Altschuler documents the initial concern of parents, community leaders, and office holders about the sexual nature of rock lyrics and performances. He documents that personalities such as Pat Boone and Dick Clark presented a moral face to the music, and that labels cleaned up lyrics for recordings. These moves made it possible for rock to take root in American culture. Altschuler then documents the return to more sexualized lyrics, themes that stoked “generational conflict,” and eventually music that promoted the political issues of the New Left. By the 1980s, however, even the Right appeals to the music of the counter-culture, as exemplified by Ronald Reagan’s invocation of Bruce Springsteen. Though Atschuler writes as one sympathetic to the genre, it seems clear by the end of the book that the early critics’ concerns—that the music promoted sexual immorality and rebellion against authority—were clearly justified by the development of the genre and the effects on American culture that Atschuler documents.
Lane, Anthony N. S. “Calvin’s Use of the Fathers: Eleven Theses.” In John Calvin: Student of the Church Fathers Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.
In this essay Lane is urging caution in determining Calvin’s patristic sources. He notes that in Calvin’s time citation of a father does not mean that the author has read that father. It may simply mean that he has read another source that mediated knowledge of that Father. Thus in determining what Calvin knew from those he quoted, knowing what sources Calvin had available to him at the time he wrote certain works is important.
Lane also looks at the different ways that Calvin uses sources. He proposes that in the Institutes Calvin appeals to the Fathers in support of his arguments on disputed points. In the commentaries Calvin is mainly looking for sparring partners. He is able to advance his viewpoint by critiquing an alternative viewpoint. Lane argues that disagreements in the commentaries sometimes signal Calvin’s respect for his interlocutor.
Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Edited by John T. McNeil. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960. [2.15-17]
This section of the Institutes covers the threefold office of Christ and the work of redemption.