August 16, 2023

Deserted Island: Two More Books for a Stranded Podcast Host

Stephen Nichols & Lee Webb
Deserted Island: Two More Books for a Stranded Podcast Host

Reading material is essential for anyone headed to a deserted island. Today, the retired host of Renewing Your Mind, Lee Webb, continues a discussion with Stephen Nichols about which books he would bring with him to a deserted island.


Lee Webb: Welcome back to 5 Minutes in Church History. I am not Dr. Steven Nichols. I am Lee Webb. And yes, I am the retired host of Renewing Your Mind. It was a distinct honor and privilege and blessing to be able to serve at Ligonier Ministries for 10 years and to work alongside the regular host of this podcast, Dr. Steven Nichols, who is President of Reformation Bible College, a Ligonier teaching fellow. And this episode is really about turnabout is fair play because, Dr. Nichols, you have sent so many of our friends and colleagues off to this deserted island of yours with five books. And so now I am playing the role of host so that we can send you off to this deserted island. And in the last episode, you told us about three of the five books that you’re taking. We got through the third book, which was Augustine’s a Happy Life. And now we move on to the fourth and fifth books.

Dr. Stephen Nichols: Well, the fourth book has been a challenge for me, Lee, and I’ve been waiting to see where I’m going to land, but I’m going to land on Charles Hodge Systematic Theology, three volumes. I love the Princetonians. I really do. And I know Hodge these days has fallen on some hard times. There are those who think he’s far too scientific in his approach to theology, but I find Hodge incredibly refreshing, not only for his clear thinking, I mean it’s sharp analysis in Hodge, but there are also just these moments that are very devotional where you just find whole paragraphs where truly your mind has been stirred, but your soul is stirred. Hodge, you know, is the English version of Turretin. Turretin is the summation of all that great post Reformation scholasticism. So, it’s just crucial texts, three volumes. It should keep me busy.

Lee Webb: What was Princeton like when Hodge was there?

Dr. Stephen Nichols: Oh yeah. I mean, it was the heyday. It was the epicenter of theological conservatism in the United States. Princeton was a small institution, but one of those small institutions that the shadow loomed large and not only in terms of what it did there, but the people that produced and the lives they impacted. So yeah, it’s hard to overestimate the impact of Princeton for the American church.

Lee Webb: Well, we have heard your first four books that you’re taking with you to this deserted island. What is the fifth and final book?

Dr. Stephen Nichols: So, I’m going out of the realm of theology and church history and biblical studies. I was actually remembering, Lee, when you mentioned about how many people I’ve sent off to this deserted island. And come to think of it, some I have since seen some I have not. So don’t know. Maybe, maybe they’re still stuck there. But the best time I had, next to Dr. Sproul, of course, was sending Dr. Godfrey. I think Lee, if I remember all five of his books were Russian novels, if I remember.

Lee Webb: Is that right?

Dr. Stephen Nichols: I think so. So, not a Russian novel, but in the spirit of Dr. Godfrey, whom I always aspire to be more and more like, I’ve chosen Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

Lee Webb: Oh, great choice.

Dr. Stephen Nichols: Yeah. You know, there’s little tips there about how to put some water and let the water evaporate. So, I’ll have some salt to salt the fish that I catch with the spear that I make. So, I think it could be practical, but I’ve always just admired Hemingway’s ability to be concise and the way to draw you into a story and how sympathetic we are for the old man and how we’re pulling for him. And I just think it would be an enjoyable… and I don’t have the patience of Dr. Godfrey to read those massive Russian novels, and I can’t even follow the names and the nicknames. I need a short American novel. So I’m going…

Lee Webb: That’s a great one. And immediately comes to mind the movie, and Spencer Tracy starred in that epic movie, The Old Man and the Sea.

Dr. Stephen Nichols: Well, we’ll see if we can install a little theater, and we’ll have movies now on our deserted island after we’ve read all our books.

Lee Webb: Well, Dr. Nichols, the time has come. The helicopter is outside the door here.

Dr. Stephen Nichols: My, my bags are packed, Lee. I’m ready.

Lee Webb: You have your books, you're ready to go. Seriously, this has been a great pleasure to be back in the studio with you. Some of my fondest memories are sitting across this table from you and as well as Dr. Sproul. It's a great privilege to be back. So, with that, thank you for joining us for this edition of 5 Minutes in Church History. I’m Lee Webb.