Let’s start out by telling our readers a little about you. (Current ministry context, family, joys in life, etc.)
My name is Dave Dunham. I serve as Pastor of Discipleship and Counseling at Cornerstone Baptist Church in the Detroit Metro. Additionally, I have helped to plant two churches, taught at both a state university and an interdenominational Free Seminary, and served as a church consultant. I received my education and biblical training from Ohio University (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M. Div.). I love to read and so this questionnaire is right in my area of interest. I am also a huge coffee fan and can usually be found with either a book or a cup of joe in hand, often both.
My wife Krista and I have been married for 12 years and have two beautiful children, with a third one on the way. We love our family time together, and both have a special desire to serve our addiction and recovery community in Macomb County.
What are you reading right now?
I always try not to have more than one book going at a time, but I rarely stick to that policy. At present, I am reading a history of the French Revolution by Simon Schama, called Citizens. I am a huge Francophile so this is a special treat.
I am also working through Kate Harding’s Asking For It, which describes the alarming rise of rape culture in America. Blaming victims of sexual assault is a huge problem in our country. I am thankful for works like this that are seeking to expose and inform the general public. Harding is a liberal feminist and so I know there will be points of disconnect between her worldview and my own, yet I am certain that I will benefit greatly from her voice and research.
Finally, I am reading Christopher Wright’s The Mission of God. This biblical theology of mission is an especially helpful resource for me as I prepare to speak at a conference on domestic missions in small town America. Wright’s development of a missional hermeneutic for reading Scripture is especially intriguing to me and helping to shape some of my content for this upcoming lecture.
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
There are a number of counseling books I re-read every other year since I teach them in our counseling training program. We use Counseling ed. by John MacArthur for our foundations class; How People Change by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane are the textbooks for our methodology course. Counseling the Hard Cases ed. by Stuart Scott and Heath Lambert is our primary text for our case studies course. So I re-read these often in preparation for instruction.
I also re-read parts of The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John Frame every year. This has been one of the most influential works in the development of my theological methodology. I find myself regularly referencing it. My copy is very worn and covered in notes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Finally, I used to re-read The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson every year as a good reminder and devotional tool. It served to reorient me towards daily repentance and humility in ways that I especially needed. The Puritans have a way of writing about deep truths in both a poetic fashion and with an eye towards practical Christian living. This can be especially helpful for me. I have not done this for the last year and a half but am probably due.
What biographies or autobiographies have you read recently?
Recently I have been enjoying the Theologians of the Christian Life series from Crossway. These are not traditional biographies, but rather theological biographies and so offer something more than just a sketch of a life. I’ve enjoyed the individual volumes on Francis Schaeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther, and Augustine.
Apart from this series I have also enjoyed the theological memoirs of Wesley Hill in Washed and Waiting, and of Rosaria Butterfield in Secrets of an Unlikely Convert. These are beautiful stories that give the contemporary church much-needed insight into the struggle with same-sex attraction.
Speaking of biographies and such, is there any particular one that has influenced you a great deal in your faith?
When I was a young college student I stumbled onto Courtney Anderson’s biography of Adoniram Judson, To the Golden Shore. Written more like a novel than a strict biographical sketch, this book captivated me. I was enamored with Judson’s persistence, faith, and passion. The description of his struggle, his self-awareness, and his conviction of God’s sovereignty made a deep impression on my faith and excited in me a desire to live for the glory of God.
If you were sitting down with a fellow believer and they asked for your top five book recommendations on Christian living, what would they be?
- How People Change by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane
- Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- You Are What You Love by James K.A. Smith
- When People Are Big and God is Small by Ed Welch
- Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore
What books have molded how you serve and lead others in the gospel?
The biggest influencers in how I do ministry and how I lead have been people, mentors, and pastors who have shaped and influenced me. Outside of Scripture, books have always been useful and supplemented or refined those influences. I don’t know that any one book has “molded” how I serve or lead besides Scripture. The collective writing of John Frame has been a special help to me because of the author’s emphasis on doing theology in love and in submission to the text of Scripture. Across each of his works he emphasizes these elements in various places and to varying degrees, but again, no one single book has shaped me. Some that did so early on no longer have that same pull or garner my full appreciation. Many chapters in many books have been influential, but I can’t think of a single book that on the whole accomplished this. It’s been more bits and pieces.
Finally, let’s conclude with this question. What are you learning about life and daily following Jesus?
I have had a somewhat difficult year and so I am finding that many of the things I say in counseling I am having to put to the test myself. Most notably, I am learning that God wants my vision to be bigger than my dreams and desires for my life. I am learning to surrender to His will afresh, to take my thoughts captive, and to believe that He is using my frustrations for my good and His glory. These are pretty common and routine lessons, I realize, and yet I feel them uniquely in this season of life. I am thankful for His faithfulness in teaching me these seemingly obvious lessons.