Many of the books recommended below are available from the church library. You can also by them from Cokesbury (the retail arm of the United Methodist Publishing House) at www.cokesbury.com or from our local bookseller, www.amazon.com.
The New Interpreter’s Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. This is the premiere study Bible. The New Revised Standard Version is the translation that was sponsored by the National Council of Churches, of which the United Methodist Church is a part. It is arguably the best literal translation available. (ISBN-10: 0-687-27832-5)
A not-distant second is The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. This is the same translation, notes by different authors. We like the layout of The New Interpreter’s better. We have a few copies of the previous edition available for $9.98. (ISBN-10: 0-19-528478-X)
It’s not a study Bible, but a handy supplement to read the Bible again for the very first time is The Message Remix: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Translated and Paraphrased by Eugene Peterson. (ISBN-10: 1-57683-434-4)
Other Recommended Books:
John Wesley, founder of Methodism, liked to say that he was a man of one book (meaning the Bible). He was, however, the author of many and reader of countless more. United Methodists have always had great respect for learning. Below are some recommendations from John Collins.
Please note that the recommendation of a book is not meant to imply that John agrees with every part of it. If he only recommended books that he completely agreed with, his list of recommended books would be very short indeed. This applies to books recommended on both this website and the www.revcollins.com.
Bible Study Aids:
The Oxford Bible Dictionary edited by John Barton and John Muddiman. I’ve found this to be an excellent one volume Bible Commentary. It has become the my source of first resort. (ISBN-10: 0199277184, ISBN-13: 978-0199277186)
The HarperCollins Bible Commentary, Revised Edition, James L. Mays, General Editor. This is another good one volume Bible Commentary. (ISBN-10: 0060655488, ISBN-13: 978-0060655488)
The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition, Paul J. Achtemeier, General Editor. This is the companion volume to The HarperCollins Bible Commentary. It is an invaluable resource for looking up people, places and things.
Wesleyan and United Methodist Theology:
Eight Life-Enriching Practices of United Methodists by Henry H. Knight III. This is a great introduction to the Wesleyan means of grace. Hal was one of John and Jenny’s favorite instructors at Saint Paul School of Theology. This is a highly approachable book and has been a favorite during past book studies. (ISBN-10: 0687087341, ISBN-13: 978-0687087341)
Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology by Randy L. Maddox. In John’s opinion this is the premier book on the theology of John Wesley. Maddox does a wonderful job of guiding the reader through the thought of this complicated 18th century pastor, preacher, theologian and founder of Methodism. (ISBN-10: 0-687-00334-2)
The New Creation: John Wesley’s Theology Today by Theodore Runyon. This is another great book on Wesleyan Theology. (ISBN-10: 0687096022, ISBN-13: 978-0687096022)
Christian Theology: An Introduction by Alister E. McGrath. This book is a great introduction to the broad tradition of Christian Theology with due attention paid to the importance of orthodoxy. John’s read this book twice in both the first and second editions. The edition now available is the fourth. (ISBN-10: 1405153601, ISBN-13: 978-1405153607)
Evil and the Justice of God by N. T. Wright. The problem of evil is one of the perennial difficulties of Christian theology. Wright asserts that the Bible is less concerned about “solving” the problem of evil than with telling us what God is going to address it. This book was featured in John’s sermon on May 25, 2008. (ISBN-10: 0-8308-3398-6, ISBN-13: 978-0-8308-3398-6)
Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense by N. T. Wright. This book attempts to do what it’s tile implies lay out an explanation of the general Christian faith held by the church universal through time and space. It reminds me of an updated version of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. (ISBN-13: 978-0-06-050715-2)
To Love as God Loves by Roberta Bondi. Loving God and our neighbor, is the greatest commandment, but it is so hard to do. Roberta Bondi draws on biblical wisdom and the experience of the early church to lay out practical guidelines for growing in Christian love. (ISBN-10: 0-8006-2041-0)
Who Stole My Church? by Gordon MacDonald. This book is subtitled “What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the Twenty-First Century.” The subtitle is a fairly accurate indicator of the book’s intent. The title comes from the statement, “All I know is that someone stole my church and I’d like to get it back.” (ISBN-10: 078522601X, ISBN-13: 978-0785226017)
Creating a Healthier Church by Ronald W. Richardson. This book explores Family Systems Theory and how it can be applied to the church setting. (ISBN-10: 0-8006-2955-8)
Good to Great by Jim Collins (No relation to pastors John and Jenny.) This is a business book that has a lot to say to churches. Many churches have used it. The Vision Team at First is reading it. However, it is a business book. Because so many churches and other non-profits were using the book and trying adapt its lessons to their situation, Jim Collins wrote a monograph to accompany it. That monograph, Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking is Not the Answer, is only 35 pages. The church library has copies of both. (ISBN-10: 0-06-662099-6 and 0-9773264-0-3.)