Welcome to St. Pete's Book Nook!  Here are some books that people at St. Peter's have found helpful in their Christian formation and that of their children. Pull up a chair and look through the featured book reviews at the top of the page and the full library of resources near the bottom.

Join the discussion - share your thoughts on our featured books.  You can now add your thoughts on our featured books - look for the "Add Comment" links.  You'll have to be logged in as a registered user of the site to comment - you can sign up or log in at the bottom of this page.

Be sure to also check out our recommended periodical publications.

We've pulled together a bit of a collection to get things started, but we need more recommendations!  You can help us by recommending your favorite books to include here.

We include links here for your convenience to buy each of the books through Amazon.  St. Peter's does receive a small donation from Amazon for each book ordered this way.

Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation

by James K. A. Smith

This book will be one of the most important books for Christians moving forward in today’s secular and increasingly post-Christian society. It examines human beings and argues that our approach to Christianizing individuals and cultures based solely on a ‘worldview’ model is incomplete because it sees people as only “thinking things” when people are more “loving actors.” As a result, Smith argues, that formation has less to do with imparting knowledge and instead has more to do with forming right desires and loves. He understands both Christian culture and secular cultures in terms of liturgies that vie for forming loves. Moving forward as Christians and as a church, this book will be of utmost benefit for forming people who are growing Christians who love Christ over and above what our culture desires and loves and for being able to understand our secular, post-Christian culture and find points of contact where we can saliently speak Christ in a way that is heard and understood.

Rod Dreher, writing for the American Conservative, states: ...because of the amazing work of the young Reformed theologian James K.A. Smith, who talks in his great books Desiring the Kingdom and its sequel Imagining the Kingdom about the importance of his fellow Protestants rediscovering the value of “cultural liturgies.” I don’t know how widespread Jamie’s influence among Protestants will ultimately be — and I encourage Catholics and Orthodox to read his work too — but I do believe that Evangelical believers and congregations that survive the years and decades to come will to some meaningful degree have acted on what they’ve learned from Jamie.

Notes by Jon Corbett

Theology in the Context of Science

by John Polkinghorne

John Polkinghorne is a preeminent theoretical physicist turned Church of England clergyman and theologian. He understands and has contributed significantly both to the worlds of science and of Christian faith – two worlds that are all too often seen as at war instead of in harmony. Polkinghorne rightly leads us to understand that this seeming enmity is not appropriate and only arises from misunderstanding of what one or both disciplines have to offer.

Given the sad state of dialogue between science and faith, Polkinghorne serves a critical and under-appreciated role in wading relentlessly into the space at the intersection of the two. The value he brings is primarily in his unwillingness to dismiss either out of hand. He clearly expresses the role of both natural and revelatory theology and how they harmonize.

In his book Theology in the Context of Science, Polkinghorne tackles both the general nature of the interplay of science and faith as well as a number of specific current issues of discourse between the two. In his chapter “Persons and Values” he tackles the value and appropriate treatment of human life. In “Consonance: Creation, Providence, and Relationality” he looks at the issues related to the understanding of the world as God's creation.

He concludes with a fascinating chapter on Eschatology. He starts with the contrast between science which cannot see beyond death and faith which does, and continues with a fascinating look at how the two nonetheless can inform one another in this arena as much as any other.

This book will likely challenge your grasp of both science and theology – and may require side-trips to good reference sources for both – but is well worth the investment of time and energy to pursue.

Notes by Tom Coate

The Cost of Discipleship

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What does it really take to be a Christian? If I go to church on Sunday, say grace at dinner with the family and make a financial contribution to the church will that suffice? Maybe if I do all that and help teach Sunday School? Join a bible study group? Quit my job and become a missionary in a far-away land? How much is enough? How much of my time, my talent and my treasure does God want from me?

Simply put, all of it. When we give our lives to Christ we give over every fiber of our beings, every moment of our lives, every action that we take, every conversation we have, every dollar that we earn.

This is not an easy notion, nor a particularly popular one. Yet it is what Jesus taught and what the church has always believed (if not always practiced.) If you look at the service of baptism, it quickly becomes clear that none of the affirmations, renunciations and promises we make are limited in scope – we don't just “renounce the evil powers of this world” for a few hours each Sunday and we don't just promise to “seek and serve Christ in all persons” when we get a free moment to do so.

With this line of thinking, being a Christian sounds extremely daunting, if not impossible.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer spells out the impossibility, the necessity and the means of being a Christian in uncompromising terms in his book The Cost of Discipleship. And who better to learn this from than a man such as him?

Read more ...

Orthodoxy

by G.K. Chesterton

Those who have read Chesterton realize that he is the sort of man with whom the world is blessed every 100 years or so. A master writer and wry philosopher, Chesterton provides in his book Orthodoxy one of the best summaries available concerning the life in Christ. Even though he found God calling him to the Church of Rome, readers from a wide range of backgrounds - evangelical Protestants of all "flavors", fundamentalists, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopalians, Baptists, Pentacostalists, Lutherans, and yes, Roman Catholics - will discover new insights into their walk with the Christ.  Chesterton has the ability to make us see things anew. In Orthodoxy, he helps us to see the Church in a new way, and he helps us to see afresh the One who founded His Church - Jesus Christ. The book is not an apologetic for Roman Catholicism, but rather one for orthodox Christianity itself.  Chesterton is simultaneously a master of the written word and one who knows his Master. To borrow a phrase from Richard John Neuhaus, Chesterton is a "singular grace note in God's creative purpose".  

Notes by Erica Wanis

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