Still working to finish some of the commentaries that I started in research for sermons I have given this year, I’m gradually trying to make my way to perhaps more diversified reading. Generally, I like commentaries but they have to be insightful and good unlike this month’s entry.
A friend wrote to me last year and proposed that I start a rating system for the books I read. Jake suggested a “Lester Lauding Level” which would be 1 (bad) all the way to 5 (excellent). I’ll start that system in my reading list this month.
Be Wise: 1 Corinthians: Discern the Difference Between Man’s Knowledge and God’s Wisdom by Warren W. Wiersbe
This is the only book I have read by Warren W. Wiersbe and I’m not sure I’m excited to read another one. Having started off reading this book in preparation for sermons on 1 Corinthians, I realized early on that I probably was not going to like this book but hey, I need to finish it so I can put on my reading list. In times like these, I begin to think maybe this reading list isn’t the best of ideas but I’m forcing myself to finish what I have started.
Wiersbe has deep ties to Moody Bible Institute and has taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. He also has been involved with the “Back to the Bible” radio broadcasts. He is considered a pastor of pastors.
That’s why I was fairly disappointed with how shallow his commentary on 1 Corinthians was. He approaches the text with a straightforward walk-through of the verses but at many points in his work, I wasn’t sure what new information one would have from just reading the actual book of 1 Corinthians through. What I appreciate about really good commentaries is their exploration of the Biblical culture and history of the time which (in the vast majority of cases) really illuminates the text itself. The identification of textual criticism and variants, I think, is also especially helpful. These items are stunningly missing from Wiersbe’s commentary. One could argue that is approach is more pastoral and focused on application of the Word of God but I didn’t even find the application aspects to be that challenging, convicting or inspiring.
Lester Lauding Level: 2 (out of 5)
“To ‘have the mind of Christ’ means to look at life from the Savior’s point of view, having His values and desires in mind. It means to think God’s thoughts and not think as the world thinks.”
Preacher Volume 1: Gone to Texas by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Profane, twisted, extremely violent and strangely imaginative can all be used to describe Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s legendary comic book series “Preacher” (which has been made into a television show that I have not seen). Reading through this graphic novel, I can say that I was shocked, entertained, and compelled to think about some of the themes that were brought up (some of them surprisingly complex).
The story revolves around Jesse Custer, a Texas reverend, who has lost his faith and has become possessed by a mysterious entity called Genesis (a conscienceless being that is the offspring of an angel and a demon). Upon being possessed, Custer leveled his entire congregation as in they all died in a chilling fashion.
From the outset, the reverend Jesse, Cassidy (a wayward Irish traveler consistently looking for trouble) and Tulip (the ex-girlfriend of Jesse and a southern belle character) sit in an All-American diner discussing how they all came together. Meanwhile in heaven, an individual called the Saint of Killers is dispatched to retrieve Genesis.
Through a series of bloody and gruesome events, Jesse and his friends are on the run from the police, the heavenly Saint of Killers, and other forces. Jesse has a revelation that God has left His creation and abdicated His responsibilities. He and his friends set off on a cross-country expedition to find God and have Him answer for his dereliction as well as suffering He has caused.
Obviously, the metaphor for trying to “find God” takes center stage here but clearly Ennis and Dillon are working with Christian imagery with a deist type twist. They also employ wild and fanciful imaginings of common Christian doctrine that is all set in the American Bible belt among characters speaking in the comic book windows with a southern drawl.
Ennis’ writing is both wickedly funny one instant and then deadly serious. The story is perverse and shock jock but surprisingly reflective and moving in parts. As one gets toward the end of the graphic novel, they will be stunned as to how much they are drawn in by the characters even though none of them are particularly good people (good and bad people definitely gets substantially blurred the more one reads “Preacher”).
So, this is a very good series but be forewarned. The work is extremely violent, not politically correct, offensive, twisted (think even beyond Quentin Tarantino’s film work) and ragingly funny in a dark way.
Lester Lauding Level: 4 (out of 5)