Saturday, June 25, 2011

What books are you reading?

So, I've left patriarchy, legalistic Christianity and much more behind in my life.  My wife and kids are much happier now, except for the fact that sometimes, I'm floating away on my thoughts and reasoning, not sure where to land my feet. 

The book that provided the final kick in the rump to get me over the fence to freedom was "A Matter of Basic Principles" by Don and Joy Venoit with Ron Henzel.  It exposed the real man, Bill Gothard, whom I call Big G., Billy Boy G., the god man, the Father of Patriarchy, etc., etc.  Not only did the book expose the man and his evil organization, but it also walks you through real grace and true Christianity.

I have spoken personally with Don Venoit and he gave me some counsel once that I hold dear to my heart, even today.  He runs the organization Midwest Christian Outreach, which exposes cults and aberrational teachings as part of its ministry.  His availability to answer questions and even go to bat for you is a true definition of what it means to be a Christian.

Anyway, I am interested in bringing my feet down to earth and begin studying even more.  My wife would be the first one to be happy with that.

What books have you read or are you reading that have helped you reject false teaching and enter into true freedom in Christ? Even books that solidify your rejection of false teaching by exposing the people behind it or even a clear explanation of the rabble itself.

Title, author, and ISBN would be most helpful.  Also, give a quick (or lenghthy) summary of the content.

Thank you so much, in advance!


  1. My number one recommendation is to read Bart Ehrman's Jesus Interrupted (978-0061173936). (

    Now, because some people might disagree with me, I want to point out that while Ehrman is currently an agnostic, he is not in any way anti-religion, and he has a whole chapter in his book explaining why what his book says does NOT invalidate belief in Christianity. What it does, though, is take the Bible down off its pedestal and explain where it came from, who really wrote it, how we got it, and how to understand it. In doing so it also explains how a lot of Christian doctrine developed. It's also an excellent book for understanding the history of early Christianity - all the things you were never taught in Sunday school. In addition, Ehrman doesn't say anything that is not currently scholarly consensus on the Bible - he is no revisionist or fringe scholar. He simply explains actual Biblical scholarship for the masses. I really cannot recommend it enough!

  2. I have read "No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice--Instead of Good--Hurts Men, Women And Children" by Paul Coughlin, ISBN 978-0764200922

    I read it and loved it. It is one of the very first things to turn my attention from the Jesus preached to the Jesus who actually lived.

    I read it in 2 days and gave it to my father in-law about a year ago. He read it, loved it, and proceeded to help in the mens ministry. I want it back to do a more in-depth reading but he isn't finished. LOL!

  3. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.
    David Johnson
    ISBN 978-1556611605

    Boundaries:When to say yes, how to say no to take control of your life.
    Cloud and Townsend
    ISBN 978-03102474456

    Just to name a couple.
    Limited on time or would list a few more.

  4. Actually, Libby, numerous scholars disagree with Ehrman. Here, two links could be found to resources of that nature.

    I don't wish that more people will swallow Christianity unquestioningly, but I do wish that more people will give Christian apologetics (a reasoned scholarly defense of the faith) a hearing too, when listening to scholars against it.
    It is so easy to start: When you read of some intellectual criticism of Christianity, type relevant words, plus the word "apologetics" into a search engine, e.g. "Bart Ehrman" apologetics. Then you can read both sides of the argument and judge.

  5. Currently slowly making my way through Jon Zens' "No Will Of My Own" so I can give some thoughts on it on CoM. It's not a long book, but life has a funny way of continually interfering with things I'd like to get done ;)

    I don't get to read much in the way of books these days. I miss it.

  6. Thank you all. I will be looking into all of them. Also, Mara, when you get time, feel free to type out the whole list. If what you have read guides your bogging, I WANT IT!

    One note: I always want to look at the other side. About a year ago, I had some huge questions about the seemingly paradoxical nature of God. So, I went into study mode and found a series on Youtube put on by atheists. The format for their vids was to take questions and then provide atheistic answers.

    It was very eye opening. They were very genuine and did not mock the listeners unless the listeners falsely accused them.

    One thing I realized through it all is that I didn't buy their arguments in their entirety. It actually strengthened my belief in God. I know....weird. When I was growing up, atheists were like the plague, because they would inevitably turn you away from God. I don't buy that, as you can see.

    I'm very comfortable in my belief in an unprovable God. If that makes me a fool, so be it. My desire in this reading quest is to strengthen the "mind" area of my Christian life.

  7. I've started the following books:

    The Greatest Show on Earth, Richard Dawkins, 9781416594796 - Supposedly a end-all-argument proof for biological evolution.

    Hyperspace, Michio Kaku, 9780385477055 - Mathematics and implications of parallel universes, time warps, and the 10th dimension

    Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxas, 9781595551382 - Life of Dietrich Bonhoffer

    Think, John Piper, 9781433520716 - Not sure yet since I just cracked the cover.

    Now that I am not studying for the LSAT, I have the time to read again!

  8. I must say that Jon Zens "No Will of My Own" was a complete and utter disappointment to me. It was very choppy, and mostly just taken from another book called "Christianity and Incest". I might as well have just bought "Christianity and Incest". Until Jon has something of his OWN to say, why bother pretending to write a book (he didn't write it, the authors of Christianity and Incest wrote it). Is what he did even legal? Seems like sloppy plagiarism to me.

    Hillary McFarland's "Quivering Daughters" was what started the healing for me. Kathryn Joyce's "Quiverfull" is fairly good too.

  9. Boundaries

    Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft Explains the thinking of abusers.

    Waking the Dead and Walking with God by Eldredge Definitely non-legalistic and relationship based. Waking the Dead helped me connect to my heart again after ignoring it most of my life.

    The Life Model and Living with Men and The Red Dragon Cast Down (NOT a light book) by James Wilder Emotional maturity, trauma, healing - answered a lot of "why" questions for me.

    I can get you ISBN numbers if you really need them, but these should all show up on a google search.

  10. Ugh. Should have put more spaces in there. Sorry it is so hard to read. :P

  11. Biblicalpersonhood - I said that Ehrman is not a fringe scholar or controversial in scholarly circles because that is true. I think the disagreement between us lays in the definition of the word "scholar." I'm talking about actual academic scholars, not Christian apologists. Sure, someone trained at a fundamentalist Bible seminary is going to insist that Paul wrote Titus, but no actual academic scholar, those with real training, actually thinks that. I don't think we're going to agree on this one, though. I have been lied to by too many Christian apologists to trust anything they say, and I read on one of your posts elsewhere that in your experience atheists and agnostics are the ones who lie. My experience does not bear this out in any way. I actually find that atheists and agnostics have a very fresh perspective, because they see things someone who is invested in believing does not. But then, we're not going to agree on this point.

    I actually have a suggestion. Check out Ehrman's Jesus Interrupted and keep your Bible with you while you read it. Every time he mentions a verse or a contradiction, look it up. Don't take his word for it, look in the Bible. You may be surprised. For example, how many donkeys did Jesus ride on on Palm Sunday? What time of day was Jesus crucified? Were Mary and Joseph from Bethlehem or Nazareth? It depends on which Gospel you read. You really don't have to take Ehrman's word for it. Just read one of his books with an open mind, looking at the passages, and see if it makes sense. Ehrman really made the Bible make sense to me, explaining contradictions and problems I had never completely understood.

    Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter to me if you take Ehrman or leave him. Incongruous was asking for book suggestions, and I suggested Ehrman because I happen to believe that there is something to his books. You may disagree, but that's okay. It's up to him if he wants to read it or not.

  12. Again, thank you all! My bride and I are starting out with Jesus Interrupted. Really looking forward to it. Also, we will be going through all the suggestions and reading them, as well. The only one I am not sure I want to read is "Think" by Piper Boy. My disdain for him would cause me to bring such a bias to the table that I wouldn't be able to objectively read the material. Then again, maybe I will to see how others that I disagree with really think.

    Thanks, Ted, for all the off-the-wall suggestions. I'm going to have to brush up my mathematics skills and dust off my big word thesaurus in the back of my brain.

    Lewis, looking forward to your critique of the book, as well as Katy-Anne, I will look at the source book, as well. Thanks for caring enough to provide a counter-suggestion.

    I HAVE to read "Quivering Daughters". Just have to. I have a feeling, from everything I've heard, Hilary has more grace in her little finger, through her words and attitude toward others, than I have in my whole being - something I intend to work on.

    Sharon. Thank you. Regardless of how you wrote it, I can figure it out just fine. I'm mostly looking forward to "Waking the Dead". Maybe I can become more sensitive toward my wife and family by reading that.

    Looking forward to more...

  13. The books that most helped me on my journey to freedom:

    The Jesus I Never Knew, by Philip Yancey. Amazing book. Everyone should read it. :)

    Waking the Dead, by John Eldridge. You mean I have a good heart that shouldn't be ignored or cut out? That emotions aren't evil? That wounds are real and there is hope? This is the first "freedom book" I read and the most precious to me.

    Tired of Trying TO Measure Up, Jeff VanVonderan. Wonderful, refreshing book.

  14. Also, I'm going to second that you should type this list up and post it somewhere as a resource for others, because it sounds like there are being some pretty good suggestions here!

  15. I agree on the Spiritual Abuse book by David Johnson.

    Also just finished Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna.

    Both I got from my library.

    Good stuff.

  16. The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning

    Bibliographic information

    Title The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out
    Author Brennan Manning
    Edition illustrated, annotated
    Publisher Random House Digital, Inc., 2005
    ISBN 1590525027, 9781590525029
    Length 272 pages
    Subjects Religion › Christian Life › General

    God - Love
    God/ Love
    Religion / Christian Life / General
    Religion / Christian Theology / General
    Religion / Christian Theology / Soteriology

    Export Citation BiBTeX EndNote RefMan

  17. From Beth:

    If you are looking for a good book, I would recommend this one that has really spoken to me -- Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning.

    Every time I read it, it helps me work through different issues in my life. A friend of mine gave it to me a few years back when I was ready to leave God and religion behind. It spoke to me about the tender and loving person God is – not the type of parent who stands over you with a stick waiting for you to mess up so he can punish you.

    While the book isn’t written specifically to counter false teachings, it explains what drives legalistic thinking better than any other book I have read. Plus, it portrays a view of God and what it means to be a Christian that is liberating not restricting. Somewhat oddly, it is written by a Catholic – a former Jesuit monk!

  18. I have no experience with spiritual abuse, but I struggled with my faith for a long time. These books have helped me, so I highly recommend:

    - Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
    - I Believe in Love by Jean du Coeur de Jésus d'. Elbée

    - Letters from prison. A Collection of Letters by Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century. I do not know if there are English translations, but if you find one, buy it.

    - The letters and sermons of Francois de Sales
    - Love and Responsibility by John Paul II
    - Everything Adrienne von Speyr wrote
    - Everything Gertrud von le Fort wrote
    - Apologia pro Vita Sua by John Henry Cardinal Newman
    - The Lord by Romano Guardini
    - Staint Bernard of Clairvaux: On Confession, On Loving God and On The Song of Songs
    - The Rule of Saint Benedict by Staint Benedict


    I have an Amazon widget with links to most of the books that I've found influential in my investigation Christianity outside my upbringing.

    I like everything by Ehrman and most everything by Jack Spong--not because I think they are the new answer to all my questions but because I like how they struggle with the same questions I have and how they work out their answers without resorting to "God Said..." in chapter and verse.

    I have read a lot of books by the Jesus Seminar that helped me rethink a lot of old interpretations of doctrines. I think their statistical analysis is kinda shoddy and it doesn't preclude their tendency toward their own biases but I really love their translations of the Gospels. I like a lot of the work by individual Jesus Seminar Fellows as well.

    I wouldn't read anything by an Evangelical if you paid me, even the stuff that is recommended for spiritual abuse. Just seeing all those bible verses to support this or that statement turned my stomach. For recovery stuff, I like 12 Step literature and work on adult children of dysfunction. I don't have any specific titles because I dipped and skimmed. I really liked "Came to Believe" blog her struggles with the 12 Steps always seemed to mirror my struggles with letting go of old crap. She doesn't write there anymore :( but writes about Christianity at "Questioning Christianity"

    The very first book I ever read that helped me begin to understand Grace as something other than "God killed his own Son rather than relate to me" was "The Road Less Travelled" by M Scott Peck. I really disliked him as a person and liked his subsequent books progressively less and less but that first book was what started me out the church door--ironically, I read it on the mission field in the library of a missionary.

    I also like but haven't listed in my widget the books by Neale David Walsch. Another author I dislike on a personal level but love his books. Especially "Communion with God" , which is written entirely in God's voice. The other books annoy me because I hate the voice of Neale himself but I like the God voice. So I keep reselling them to the used bookstore only to find myself buying them back again months later.

    Happy reading!