A Year with John Webster

Rather than reading by whim in 2023, I am going to immerse myself in the work of John Webster. The weekly readings are not overwhelming but brief. This will allow for re-reading, annotation, and journaling. My goal is not mere completion but competent understanding. I pray this will be a fruitful exercise that strengthens my thinking and speaking about God.


1st-7th Culture of Theology, Introduction- Chapter 1 (pages 1–62)

8th-14th Culture of Theology, Chapters 2-3 (pages 63–98)

15th-21st Culture of Theology, Chapters 3-4 (pages 81–114)

22nd-28th Culture of Theology, Chapter 5-6 (pages 115–147)

29th-Feb 4th Review and Reflect 


5th- 11th Word and Church, Introduction-Chapter 2 (pages 1– 86)

12th-18th Word and Church, Chapters 3-4 (pages 87—150) 

19th-25th  Word and Church, Chapters 5-6 (pages 151—210)

26th- March 4th Word and Church, Chapters 7-8 (pages 211—262)


5th- 11th Word and Church, Chapter 9 (pages 263—286)

12th- 18th Review and Reflect 

19th- 25th Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch, Introduction-Chapter 2 (pages 1—106)

26th-April 1st Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch, Chapters 3-4 (pages 106—137) 


2nd-8th Read and Reflect 

9th-15th Holiness, Introduction- Chapter 3 (pages 1– 76)

16th-22nd Holiness, Chapter 4 (pages 77— 105)

23rd- 29th Review and Reflect 

30th- May 6th Domain of the Word, Chapters 1-2 (pages 3—49)


7th-13th Domain of the Word, Chapters 3-4 (pages 50—85)

14th-20th Domain of the Word, Chapters 5-6 (pages 86—132)

21st-27th Domain of the Word, Chapters 7-8 (pages 133—170)

28th-June 3rd Domain of the Word, Chapters 9-10 (pages 171—202) 


4th-10th Review and Reflect 

11th-17th God Without Measure Vol. 1, Chapters 1-3 (pages 3— 42)

18th-24th God Without Measure Vol. 1, Chapters 4-5 (pages 43—82)

25th- July 1st God Without Measure Vol. 1, Chapters 6-7 (pages 83—114)


2nd-8th God Without Measure Vol. 1, Chapters 8-9 (pages 115—142) 

9th- 15th God Without Measure Vol. 1,Chapters 10-11 (pages 143—176)

16th- 22nd God Without Measure Vol. 1, Chapters 12-13 (pages 177— 212)

23rd-29th God Without Measure Vol 1, Epilogue (pages 213—224) 

30th- August 5th Review and Reflect 


6th-12th God Without Measure Vol. 2, Chapters 1-2 (pages 1—28)

13th-19th God Without Measure Vol. 2, Chapters 3-4 (pages 29—66)

20th-26th God Without Measure Vol. 2, Chapters 5-6 (pages 67—102)

27th-Sept 2nd God Without Measure Vol.2, Chapters 7-8 (pages 103—140)


3rd-9th God Without Measure Vol. 2, Chapters 9-11 (pages 141— 188) 

10th-16th Review and Reflect

17th-23rd Confessing God, Introduction- Chapter 1 (pages 1—32) 

24th-30th Confessing God, Chapters 2-3 (pages 33—86) 


8th-14th Confessing God, Chapters 4-5 (pages 87—130)

15th- 21st Confessing God, Chapters 6-7 (pages 131—194)

22nd-28th Confessing God, Chapters 8-9 (pages 195—226) 

29th-November 4th Review and Reflect.

November- December

Grace period

Reflections on Reading

When Luke was born earlier this year I knew I would not read at the pace of previous years. Newborn life is a joyful, but tiring life and the first six months of his life were tiring indeed. I am still grateful for the opportunities I did have. Few things bring me as much joy as sitting alone with a book in my hands and a cup of coffee by my side. If I were not busy writing this I would be reading my most recent purchase, The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism.

As a top ten list, this does not include everything I read this year. I was in and out of John Gill’s magnum opus, A Body of Doctrinal Divinity. I read the vast majority of Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology as I prepared outlines for Sunday Evening Theology at HBC. I read the vast majority of the Exodus commentaries by Christopher Wright and T.D. Alexander for sermon preparation and monographs by L. Michael Morales and W. Ross Blackburn. I read numerous journal articles, online pieces, and newsletters (especially Digital Liturgies ) to my benefit. I also read for the third time Mark Dever’s classic Nine Marks of a Healthy Church with some brothers from my church. 

I always have minor regrets at the end of the year. I don’t read nearly enough fiction and literature (this year not any) and my non-fiction reading consists mostly of biblical and theological studies. I wish I could say I’ll read more widely next year, but I’m seriously considering reading nothing but my Bible and John Webster in 2023. 

I hope you’ll consider purchasing and reading one of the wonderful volumes below! I am confident you will enjoy them as much as I did. 

The Top Ten

Biblical Reasoning, Bobby Jamieson & Tyler Wittman. This is without question one of the most helpful books I have ever read. Jamieson and Wittman clarify confusing but common interpretive problems by equipping readers to interpret the Scriptures in a way that is befitting of God. They offer clear principles for interpretation that build upon each other. This book is a doctrinal and doxological delight!

Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition, Craig Carter. We didn’t realize it, but many of us were taught to read the Bible through the eyes of the enlightenment. We would have never claimed to share the hermeneutics of modernity, but that was our practice. Carter helps his readers interpret the Bible with the communion of the saints throughout church history. The result is an orthodox, trinitarian, and Christological reading of Scripture that aims to behold the glory of God in Jesus Christ. It is necessary reading for any serious student or teacher of the Bible. 

Spurgeon the Pastor, Geoff Chang. I purchased this book on a whim while skimming the shelves at a bookstore on my birthday. I began reading it that night and could not put it down. Chang has provided pastors with a thorough and accessible treatment of Spurgeon’s pastoral ministry. When faithful examples are in such short supply, this account of Spurgeon’s ministry will encourage pastors to maintain their Baptist convictions and believe in the Spirit’s work through the ordinary means of grace. It convinced me that reading Spurgeon’s two-volume biography will most certainly be worth the effort. I hope Chang’s book is under the tree of every pastor this Christmas. 

Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands: Recovering Sacrament in the Baptist Tradition, Michael A.G. Haykin. Despite some diversity throughout Baptist history, Haykin shows persuasively that there is a rich theological heritage in Baptist ecclesiology for viewing the ordinances (sacraments) as means of grace. Haykin gives an essential survey of that heritage. It’s mandatory reading for Baptist pastors wanting to deepen their congregation’s understanding of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. His concluding theses are worth the price of the entire book. 

You’re Only Human, Kelly M. Kapic. A masterful and accessible work of theological anthropology. Kapic helps readers better understand themselves by exegeting their burdens and reassuring them of God’s love, presence, and acceptance in Christ through the gospel. He answers questions readers often ask themselves but might be hesitant to admit to others. Kapic’s reflection on God’s love for his people is particularly edifying in this regard. Because of this, it is both a serious reflection on the theological anthology and an exemplary model of pastoral soul care. 

The Mystery of Christ, His Covenant, and His Kingdom, Samuel D. Renihan. A really insightful introduction to Baptist covenant theology. I read it after Nehemiah Coxe’s Discourse of the Covenants to help clarify my understanding of 1689 Federalism. My understanding of the covenants aligns mostly with progressive covenantalism, but I confess to desiring a convictional confessionalism. I am not yet convinced my understanding of the covenants is radically inconsistent with the Second London Confession, but I want to remain teachable. There are important distinctions, but they are often exaggerated. As of now, I’m fine departing from the confession where I believe Scripture leads me to do so. That said, Renihan’s treatment is the kind of book that could persuade a teachable person to change his mind. 

The Glory Now Revealed: What We’ll Discover about God in Heaven, Andrew M. Davis. This is not your ordinary bestseller on heaven. It is a serious theological reflection on Scripture centered on the glory of God in redemptive history. Heaven, according to Davis, is an eternal education in the glory of God. The redeemed will retain their memory in heaven while also growing in their understanding of God’s works in the world. It is accessible, soul-stirring, and hope-inducing. 

Deacons: How they Serve and Strengthen the Church, Matt Smethurst. I loved this book. I purchased a copy for each of our deacons the moment I finished it. The Lord has already used it to bless our church. In my opinion, it is the most biblical and accessible book on the office of deacon in print. 

The Baptism of Disciples Alone, Fred Malone. A thoroughly biblical and theological treatment of credobaptism. Consider this endorsement by Timothy George, “Fred Malone presents the best case I have seen for believers’ baptism from a covenantal perspective.” Sometimes an endorsement can sell a book and Dr. George’s words were enough to sell this volume to me! Malone proved him correct. Its strength is its analytical argumentation and clear organization. I’ll return to it throughout my ministry as I teach baptism to the saints at HBC. 

Elders in the Life of the Church, Phil Newton. This is a practical guide on the plurality of elders from an experienced pastor. The details that Newton provides about his time at Capitol Hill Baptist Church are fascinating! Any pastor in the midst of revitalization should prioritize this book because it includes both the biblical case for a plurality of elders and a practical plan to make the transition in a local church. 

Tolle Lege!

Praise for an Ordinary, Unknown Pastor

Several of us sat around a table during freshman orientation and talked about preaching. This foreshadowed many of the conversations we would have as undergrad students at Boyce College. At some point the conversation turned to the preacher we would pick to listen to if we could only choose one. This was 2008 and the YRR movement was in its prime, so the expected answers emerged: John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, etc. When my turn came, I sincerely answered, “Honestly, my pastor.” The other brothers paused for a moment and said, “Oh, well, good man.”

This was not an intentional “Jesus Juke” or expression of self-righteousness. I enjoyed the occasional podcast sermon as much as anyone, but my past experience left me with only one answer: Joe Buchanan, pastor of First Baptist Church, Metropolis, IL. Joe may not have possessed the gifts, influence, or platform as those other men, but Joe knew my name. He prayed for me regularly, had me in his home, and talked to me about ministry over lunch. Joe was not a mere preacher whose content I streamed, he was the preacher who served me as a shepherd.

It was the investment of this ordinary, unknown pastor that changed the trajectory of my life. He accepted the call to pastor FBC, Metropolis just before my senior year in high school. I had already expressed an aspiration for ministry, but it did not develop with passion until I met Joe. His sermons were common but faithful. They were ordinary yet glorious. As he preached through the Gospel of Mark his first year, it created an appetite for expositional preaching. It was then that I formed the conviction that preaching is essentially reading, explaining, and applying the text of Scripture, centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ.  

Many of us would gather around Joe’s kitchen table or back deck every Thursday evening to talk about the Bible, theology, and the church. We began studying the book of Colossians while also reading Wayne McDill’s The 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching. We read great books like Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, developing convictions and passions about ecclesiology. Eventually, he would require us to write Bible studies, develop sermon outlines, and preach in a controlled environment. He then gave us the opportunity to preach during Sunday evening services. After my final sermon before leaving for Boyce, Joe hugged me before the congregation with tears in his eyes. Hearing public, affirming words through the voice of a tearful pastor was one of the more meaningful moments of my life. 

These experiences exemplified Paul’s instruction to Timothy, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Ti 2:1–2) 

When I gather to shepherd my people, those Thursday nights remain with me. The ecclesiological convictions instilled in me at eighteen are the convictions that are with me still. The philosophy of preaching Joe exemplified to me then is the philosophy I exemplify for my people now. I was reminded of him just this week as I began planning a men’s discipleship group for 2023. So as I plan to gather next year with men from my church to read Mark Dever’s Discipling, I can only hope that one day someone will look back and believe that time with their ordinary, unknown pastor changed their life. Mine certainly did.

Your pastor may not possess the gifts, influence, or platform of a celebrity pastor, but they know your name, pray for you, and shepherd you. They are your pastor, and praise God for that.