I'm always interested in knowing what books changed things for people. Most books we like confirm what we already think or believe. Few have the power to lead us into new territories, altar our imaginative landscape. These may not be our favorite books, or the best written books. Some we may now have move past, but at the time they framed things in ways that changed things. So, I'm going to give you five that did that for me. I'm hoping you'll add to our list of books.
5. Paul Hanson, The Diversity of Scripture. I picked this up used in a bookstore in Portland, where I lived at the time. I read it on the two flights it takes to get you from Portland to Abilene, Texas, where I was working on a Doctor of Ministry degree. There are probably better books on the subject than Hanson's. It's all about the timing with this book. I had a budding diversity view, but this book was catalytic and constructive. It gave me structure for my intuitions, an argument not just about Scripture, but God and faith.
And it produced a little bit of a crisis within me as a minister of a local congregation. My hunch was that if people knew that this is what I believed about Scripture, they would be very concerned. I felt like a dangerous person. But I also knew that I couldn't represent myself as if this stuff didn't matter.
I taught a midweek Bible study while I was with this congregation that I called Bible Lab. I used this class as a way to let participants make sense of what they were discovering in the text itself. It was a wonderful experience and I gained trust in both patience and the theological capacity of the church.