Monday, December 17, 2012

Top 12 Reads for 2012 (+)

I've got quite a few top reads to share this year. Thanks to Kindle promotions and sites like Ligonier that have made older titles more accessible, I picked up a dozen or so excellent reads that weren't published in 2012. Those titles are listed at the end of the list. First, I want to get to this year's best of the best, a few honorable mentions and a couple of "passes" from my library. Enjoy!

Top 12 in '12
Here are my top reads published in 2012:

·         A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, by Beeke, Joel R and Jones, Mark.  (2012, Reformed Heritage Books, Hardcover).

·         A Theology of Mark: The Dynamic Between Christology and Discipleship, Hans F. Bayer, (2012 P&R Publishing, Softcover; Explorations in Biblical Theology Series).

·         Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work, by Keller, Tim. (2012, Dutton: The Penguin Group, Hardcover).

·         Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture, by DeWitt, Stephen. (2012, Credo House Publishers.)

·         Loving the Way Jesus Loves, Phil Ryken, (2012, Crossway Publishing).

·         The Hole in our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness , by DeYoung, Kevin. (2012, Crossway Publishing).

·         Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith, by Reeves, Michael. (2012, IVP Academic).

·         The Life of GOD in the Soul of the Church: The Root and Fruit of Spiritual Fellowship, by Anyabwile, Thabiti, (Christian Focus Publications, Softcover; 9 Marks Ministry).

·         The Joy of Calvinism: Knowing God's Personal, Unconditional, Irresistible, Unbreakable Love, by Forester, Greg (2012 Crossway Publishing).

·         Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside, by Greg Dutcher. (2012, Cruciform Press).

Two more tops, make it an even 12 for 2012. To end this year's top list, I'll share some thoughts on a book considered ground-breaking and extremely valuable. It's one that I would recommend to all readers:

·         The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith, by Butterfield, Rosario Champagne. (2012, Crown and Covenant Publishing).

I, like many other bloggers, simply could not put this one down. Butterfield's autobiography was well-written, Biblical and hopefully eye-opening to those who are involved in ministry. The one key point that I thought she made throughout the book was that when she discusses her salvation, the best metaphor she had to describe it was: A Train Wreck.  I do believe that is true for many people whose lives are completely transformed by the power of the Gospel , the preaching of the Word and the fellowship of the Saints.

To bookend this review, I would like to list my #12  and final favorite book of this year, which is:

·         Wrecked: When A Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life, by Goins, Jeff. 2012,

Mr. Goins thinks that comfortable church people need to be wrecked just as much as the unconverted people, like Rosario Butterfield was so many years ago. And in my experience, this has been 100% true. Mr. Goins challenge to those of us who, after many comfortable years in the safety net of the Church, have perhaps plateau'd in our faith. His challenge is to allow ourselves to be wrecked by ministering to the broken world that surrounds us - the homeless, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the widow, the prostitute, etc.. To stretch ourselves and make our faith real, he exhorts to go out and get involved with outreaches and missions that are doing ministry to the least of these and watch how God completely "wrecks" our own sinful complacency, and simultaneously grows and strengthens our faith. A quick read and a necessary journey for comfortable pew sitters, like myself.

 

My Honorable Mentions for 2012:

The Meaning of Marriage, by Keller, Tim (kindle version). This book contained an awesome amount of theology and g-rated application, which is what I wanted. As a single person, my immediate interest was somewhat muted, but I was also able to glean quite a bit of helpful doctrine here.

How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture , by Williams, Michael (Kindle Version). This is number three of the "How to Read the Bible" series from Zondervan. I read the book in one day, so it is not nearly as in-depth as most of the material that I have found myself being drawn toward in terms of Biblical Theology these days (Vos, Beale, et al..). It's a solid read, but I didn't put in my favorites only because I prefer a little more depth.

And My Pass or Read with Care List for 2012:

The Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson, (2012, Crossway Publishing). I wanted to like this one and wanted to have it listed in my top 12, alas, I just couldn't get past the heavy, heavy YRR/Resurgence influence. The title alone is a turn off for me. My 21 year nephew, who is a non-believer, is disappointed when his Itunes songs don't have the "Explicit" warning posted next to the title in his Iphone. Why do YRR guys feel like they've always got to shock jock everyone to pay attention to them? Don't me wrong, I love what both Matt and Jared are doing in their ministries. However, this book 1-is not very well-written from a literary or academic perspective, 2- is not a very pleasant read due to the presence of slang and immaturity throughout, 3- comingles the Gospel with non-Gospel issues, making the Gospel message contingent upon several secondary and tertiary issues, and 4) is highly and unnecessarily polemic without the appropriate level of winsomeness or persuasion. In sum, I'm a bit jaded over the YRR use of written media and this book unfortunately exemplifies too much of what I try to avoid. Pass.

Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants. As a Presbyterian, I knew going into this book that there would be certain aspects of the content with which I would not agree. However, I wanted to give it a hearing, since I do believe that sometimes we Presbyterians are limited by our Covenant position in terms of our missional focus. All in all, I found that the majority of the approach in this book was helpful and in line with reformed thought generally. Unfortunately, in the brief areas of disagreement, particularly in terms of the visible and invisible church and baptism, I don't believe those portions were well argued. Too many assumptions from the Baptistic view were just presumed and taken for granted. I don't know anyone who has been Presbyterian for a while who would have been persuaded by those areas of the book. I'm glad I purchased the book, but I'm also grateful to Mr. John Samson at Monergism.com for taking the time to clearly delineate his issues with their theological approach. Read with care (or pass).

 

Other Highly Recommended Books  read by me in 2012, but not published in 2012

Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, Geerhardus Vos. (1975.). - I haven't finished this yet, but it is amazing! Absolutely fantastic. If anyone ever wonders what cloth guys like Clowney, Poythress, Keller, Robertson, Carson (and perhaps to a small degree even Beale), were cut out of: here he is! Excellent.

John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, Doxology by Various Contributors Hardcover. (2008, Reformation Trust Publishing). Amen and amen!

Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God. By R.C. Sproul(Author), Thabiti Anyabwile (Author), Alistair Begg (Author), D.A. Carson (Author), Sinclair B. Ferguson (Author), W. Robert Godfrey (Author), Steven J. Lawson (Author), R.C. Sproul Jr. (Author), Derek W.H. Thomas (Author), (2010 Ligonier)

Excellent reader. Short writings by many gifted men. An incredible joy to read, point us to the one True and living God.

 


From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology, by Alexander, T. Desmond. (2008 Kregel Academic and Professional). I haven't finished this one completely (about 50%), but so far, I've benefited immensely. My resolutions list will including finishing this - ASAP.

God's Love: How the Infinite God Cares for His Children  by Sproul, R. C. (Kindle Version) Classic Christian Series. Excellent and classic. Rock solid teaching and foundation for the Love of God. I actually liked this better than Carson's "Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God" - just as a matter of preference. Got it on Kindle special for only $2.

Histories and Fallacies by Trueman, Carl R. (Kindle Version), 2010 Crossway. Entertaining and informative, as always from Mr. Truemen! Great read - recommended, especially for students.

The Kingdom and the Church: A Zondervan Digital Short , by Horton, Michael S. (Kindle Version). Very good piece. I read it right around the time I received Kingdom Thru Covenant and consider it an excellent supplement for that tome. Appreciated reading both close together, as many of the ideas interacted with one another.

Union with Christ: in Scripture, History, and Theology, by Robert Leatham (2011 P&R Publishing, Paperback). I bought this last year, but didn't actually start reading it until the summer of 2012. Very well written, with a few sticking points for me. I found:

Union with Christ: A Zondervan Digital Short , by Horton, Michael S. (Kindle Version) to be an excellent read aside with Leatham's approach. The two taken together were an excellent balance.

The God I Don't Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith, by Christopher Wright (2008, Zondervan, Hardcover). This book was a welcome surprise! It popped up in my Amazon.com recommendations, based on my history, but at first I was really put off by the title. I just assumed it was some post-modern attempt to show how we are incapable of "understanding" God and that we all be happier if just give up trying. Please forgive me, Mr. Wright. Praise God that I've been taught that "Contempt Prior to Investigation" is an unreasonable and therefore insane presumption -- especially after glancing at a few of the endorsers of his book. So, I investigated and previewed the book's table of contents and first pages in Amazon's feature. After purchasing and reading this book, I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who deals with unbelievers, doubters and skeptics. Mr. Wright addresses MANY of the toughest questions that literally EVERYONE seems to have about the Bible and Christian faith. The methodology by which he handles these questions is hands-down, one of the best, most thorough, most logical and most respectful approaches I've seen. Recommend!

When Grace Comes Alive: Living Through the Lord's Prayer, by Johnson, Terry L. (2003, Christian Focus Publications). So far, so good. I have not finished it yet; however, what I have read is awesome. Pastor Johnson was the preaching pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Savannah, where I visited a several times when I was stationed in Georgia as an officer in the Army. I had so many books begging for my attention, that I had to put this one on the back burner for the time being. Looking forward to getting back into it soon.

Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals, by Wax, Trevin. (2010, Crossway). Well-written, timeless truths that I personally need to be reminded of regularly. Trevin's blog is a joy. I frequently read and enjoy his posts and many of his links.

Gospel-Powered Humility. by Farley, William, (2011, P&R Publishing). Humility is the essential virtue and pride is a root sin for many other expressions of unbelief. Mr. Farley does a powerful job of helping the reader see the problem and to see the Lord who has given us the freedom from self that we so desperately need. Excellent! Seriously, Tim Challies compares what Mr. Farley has written here about humility with with what R.C. Sproul did with the holiness of God. I don't think he is exaggerating. No where else have a found such a straightforward, biblical presentation of this absolutely core doctrine. Please don't miss this one, if you have the chance.

 Finally, here are a few that I'm planning to read and looking forward to:
  • True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia, by Bridges, Jerry, (Kindle Version).
  • Pillars of Grace (A Long Line of Godly Men), by Steven J. Lawson (Kindle Version)
  • New International Greek Testament Commentary: Book of Revelation (NIGTC), Beale, Dr. Gregory. (1999, Eerdmans Publishing Company).

 The end! (for this year..)

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