I love to read and many of the books I enjoy were recommended to me in conversations with friends. In that spirit, I list below the books I completed in 2015.
Several stand out:
My favorite read this year was Donald Macleod’s Christ Crucified. Christian ministers who “preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23) will do so with renewed conviction as they take to heart this splendid exposition of the doctrine of the atonement.
Archibald Alexander advised his students to read annually The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded. My return to Owen’s classic proved a blessing to my soul, and I need to read it more often, if not once a year.
Bruce Gordon’s Calvin is a masterpiece, and readers looking for a biography both scholarly and accessible will not be disappointed.
Jill Leovy’s Ghettoside is a moving story of crime, race, and police work in South Central LA. The author’s considerable journalistic skill took me into a violent world that lies outside my experience, a world that I want to understand, however imperfectly. It’s always tempting to read for the purpose of building arguments that address today’s controversies. But if understanding does not precede argumentation, then debate is less than humane.
Christians looking for a brief and helpful introduction to American slavery, reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, and the civil rights movement will want to read God and Race in American Politics by Mark Noll. Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters, the first of three volumes on the King years, provides a panoramic introduction to the civil rights movement. If you are unfamiliar with names like Vernon Dahmer, Clyde Kennard, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Jonathan Daniels – each of them an American hero – then you need to read Taylor Branch.
How can the church faithfully serve its members who struggle with same-sex attraction? Two sensitively written books are Sam Allberry’s Is God Anti-gay? and Ed Shaw’s The Plausibility Problem. They offer theological reflection and much pastoral wisdom. For a careful analysis of the Obergefell decision and its implications, read both the opinion and Ryan T. Anderson’s Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom.
Middlemarch by George Eliot (the pen name for Mary Ann Evans) is a splendid story, full of insight into human character and what makes and breaks marriages. Counselors and pastors will benefit from this novel.
- Guy Prentiss Waters, How Jesus Runs the Church
- John R.W. Stott, The Preacher’s Portrait
- Terry L. Johnson, Worshipping with Calvin: Recovering the Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism
- Tim Townsend, Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis
- Hughes Oliphant Old, Worship: Reformed according to Scripture
- Bruce Gordon, Calvin
- Richard B. Gaffin Jr., By Faith, Not By Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation
- William Shakespeare, Macbeth
- The Westminster Directory of Public Worship,discussed by Mark Dever and Sinclair Ferguson
- Arnold Dallimore, Spurgeon: A New Biography
- John Owen, The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded
- Gary L.W. Johnson (editor), B.B. Warfield: Essays on His Life and Thought
- Adam Nicholson, Why Homer Matters
- Theodore Dalrymple, Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality
- Philip Graham Ryken et al. (editors), Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship
- David Robertson, The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths
- Shelby Steele, Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country
- David L. Chappell, A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow
- Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
- Sam Allberry, Is God anti-gay?: And other questions about homosexuality, the Bible and same-sex attraction
- William Shakespeare, King Lear
- Mark A. Noll, God and Race in American Politics: A Short History
- Brian Croft, Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness
- Robert Candlish, The Fatherhood of God
- Stephen R. Haynes, The Last Segregated Hour: The Memphis Kneel-Ins and the Campaign for Southern Church Desegregation
- Peter Slade, Open Friendship in a Closed Society: Mission Mississipi and a Theology of Friendship
- Jason L. Riley, Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make it Harder for Blacks to Succeed
- Sandy Finlayson, Unity & Diversity: The Founders of the Free Church of Scotland
- Lynne Spencer, Touching History: The Untold Story of the Drama that Unfolded in the Skies over America on 9/11
- Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement
- John Jefferson Davis, Evangelical Ethics: Issues Facing the Church Today
- Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963
- H.B. Charles, Jr. On Preaching
- Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices
- Ed Shaw, The Plausibility Problem: The Church and Same-Sex Attraction
- Heath Lambert, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace
- Andrew M. Davis, An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture
- Paul Tautges,Comfort the Grieving: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Loss
- Ta-Nehesi Coates, Between the World and Me
- William B. Strutters, Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain
- Barton Swaim, The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics
- Prayers on the Psalms from the Scottish Psalter of 1595
- Ryan T. Anderson, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom
- John Owen, A Treatise of the Dominion of Sin and Grace
- Thomas S. Kidd, George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father
- Patrick Lee and Robert P. George, What Is Marriage an Why It Matters
- O. Palmer Robertson, Preaching Made Practical
- Richard Grant, Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta
- Jill Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America
- Robert E Luckett, Joe T. Patterson and the White South’s Dilemma: Evolving Resistance to Black Advancement
- Gilbert Meilaender, Bioethics: A Primer for Christians
- Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church: The Age of Reformation (volume 4)
- Petrus van Mastricht, The Best Method of Preaching
- Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life: Psalms 1-12
- Flannery O’Connor, A Prayer Journal
- The Bible
- George Eliot, Middlemarch