June 05, 2024

5 Books for Summer Reading

Stephen Nichols
5 Books for Summer Reading

The summer months can be a great time to catch up on reading. Today, John Tweeddale, vice president of academics at Reformation Bible College, joins Stephen Nichols to share several book recommendations.


Dr. Stephen Nichols: Welcome back to another episode of 5 Minutes in Church History. On this episode, I’m visiting with my good friend and colleague over at Reformation Bible College. We have Dr. John Tweeddale, our Vice President of academics, author of numerous books on great figures in church history like John Calvin and John Owen. But today, we’re not going to have you talk about the books you’ve written but books you’ve read. So, I know you love books. I know you have piles of books around you, Dr. Tweeddale. So, from your pile of books, could you please pluck for us five good reads for this coming summer?

Dr. John Tweeddale: Thank you, Dr. Nichols. It is a joy to be here with you. I have five categories to draw from: biography, theology, history, devotional literature, and of course fiction. Let’s start with biography. Why do we read biography? Well, it’s because we love to learn from the success and failure of those who have gone before us. And if you have never read a biography, this summer at the beach is the best time to start. And let me encourage you to read Roland Bainton’s classic work Here I stand. It is a beautifully written, almost cinematic account of Luther’s remarkable life. Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther isn’t just great biography, it’s great literature.

Number two, every Christian needs to read at least once a year, one good sturdy theology tome. And so, this summer, let me encourage you to read Herman Bavinck’s Wonderful Works of God published by our friends at Westminster Seminary. Bavinck was a Dutch theologian who lived about a hundred years ago, was a colleague of Abraham Kuyper, and in this work, he writes a comprehensive but accessible theology for professional lay Christians. And the first sentence is worth the price of the book, “God, and God alone, is man’s highest end.” And everything flows downstream from that sentence. It’s a glorious book.

And then you need of course to read history. History basically is learning about the past through examples. And a great, relatively new history book is Carl Trueman’s Strange New World. In this book, he traces the history of what he calls “expressive individualism” to explain the origins of identity, politics, and the sexual revolution.

SN: Well, we’ve got Bainton, Bavinck, and Trueman, all great authors, great books. I think that leaves us two more. So, what are those final two?

JT: Yes, it’s important to read devotional literature, and by that, I’m talking about literature that expounds the Word of God to grow your love for Jesus Christ. And to recommend a good devotional piece of literature, I want to take you to Liverpool. Now, when people think of Liverpool, some people think of football teams, others might think of the Beatles. But I want you all to think about the great evangelical bishop of the 19th century J.C. Ryle, who wrote a series of volumes called the Expository Thoughts on the Gospels. Reading these expository thoughts will make your heart do backflips. Just go online. You can get a free copy of it online. Go to your favorite passage in the gospels and have Ryle take you through that passage. If you want to know where to start, go to John 17 on the High Priestly Prayer of Christ.

But then sometimes it’s good just to read for fun. And if you’re going to the beach, you need some fiction, lighthearted entertainment. So, for me, I have recently, for the very first time to my shame, been enjoying the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie. Now, you might think you need to read Murder on the Orient Express or Death on the Nile, but my encouragement this summer is to pick up a forgotten classic titled Murder in Mesopotamia, and you’ll learn about Christie’s love for archeology. And then if crime fiction isn’t your thing, a bonus one, one of my favorite works from C.S. Lewis is often overlooked, and it is his Space Trilogy. It is his bizarre attempt to mix ancient mythology, modern Sci-Fi, and Christian apologetics.

SN: Well, those are all great reads, and that was Dr. John Tweeddale with five good reads for the summer of ‘24. And I’m Steve Nichols, and thanks for listening to 5 Minutes in Church History.