The Blue Parakeet (Rethinking How You Read the Bible), when it was first published, in 2008. Then again, I don't know if it would have resonated so much with me back then. But it sure does now.
The blue parakeet of his title (which he explains in the book's second chapter) refers to those passages in the Bible that Bible-readers and Christ-followers today manage to either ignore or rationalize while claiming to "believe" or "follow" what the Bible says. "What happens to you when you encounter blue parakeet passages in the Bible," he writes, "will reveal all you need to know about how you read the Bible." He masterfully illustrates how, despite many claims to the contrary, everyone picks and chooses from what the Bible says, but few people know they're doing it, fewer know why or how they're doing it, and even fewer can sensibly articulate their thinking and their choices. However, he doesn't recommend that we stop doing so. Instead, he suggests that we learn to read and apply the Bible relationally and missionally. What does he mean by that? Read the book.
That is my summary of the first half of The Blue Parakeet. In the second half of the book, he presents a lengthy case study--one that is very near and dear to my heart--of rethinking how we read and apply the Bible via a thorough examination of how and why the church approaches and discusses and decides the issue of women in ministry and leadership in the church. He shows how leaders, pastors, theologians, and teachers have harmed the church with their teachings on this subject. He shows how most teaching and preaching on the subject in the last two thousand years ignores an important question, similar to the "What Would Jesus Do" meme; that is, "WDWD: What Did Women Do" in Bible times. He asks, "Do you permit women to do in your churches what women did in the Bible and in the early churches?" He then goes on to thoroughly and systematically tackle all the relevant Bible passages in light of that question (he could have--and maybe should have--made that whole section into another book entirely). McKnight, who is Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University in Chicago, manages to discuss that thorny subject in a measured, rational, reasonable, and fair way.
The Blue Parakeet (Rethinking How You Read the Bible) deserves a wide readership. I wish it were required reading for every church leader and preacher and teacher. It would make a huge difference and might just ignite a revival of Christian thinking and living.