It is that time of year when bloggers share their “top 10” book lists for the year. I so enjoy these lists, because even if the particular books are not my usual style or subject matter – it exposes me to new authors and ideas. I was perusing my list of the 40 books I read this year, and here are a few that stood out for me – in no special order.
- God and the Philosophers. The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason. Edited by Thomas Morris. Oxford University Press, 1994. I wrote 2 posts on this book (part one and part two). The book contains 20 chapters, each by a different scholar from the field of philosophy. Since the modern secular academy tends to view faith and reason as opposites or contradictory, each author shares their personal story of reconciling faith and reason. I most appreciated the chapters by Peter van Inwagen and Brian Leftow. See my two posts where I summarize their ideas.
- Effective Bible Teaching. By Wilhoit and Ryken. Baker Academic, 1988. I’ve read quite a few books on Bible teaching, church education, and leading adult groups in the church setting. Effective Bible Teaching stands out as the best among them all! I highly recommend it. It basically teaches Bible interpretation skills, and then shows you how to turn passages of the Bible into lessons. One key point is developing the “big idea” of the passage. The book is a great combination of the theoretical and the practical. Something I particularly like is that they give actual examples of how to do what they suggest! I find this is often lacking in other books that I’ve read on teaching – a great idea is given but then they don’t give you examples or illustrations of it. (I read the first edition.)
- The Lost Letters of Pergamum by Bruce Longenecker. Baker Academic, 2002. This is a work of historical fiction about the opening years of the church or early Christianity. Note it is by Baker Academic. Great effort is made to ensure that the historical and cultural information is accurate. The book is a unique mix of fact and fiction that makes the early years of Christianity come to life! It follows the correspondence between Antipas, a Roman civic leader and the biblical author Luke. This book drew me right in, and I felt like I was right there with the early Christians.
- Paul, Women, and Wives by Craig Keener. Baker Academic, 1992. If I could only suggest one book on the issue of women in ministry, I think this would be it. While the book is academic, it is also very readable. It is accessible to your interested layperson. Paul is often portrayed as a misogynist, but he was actually very progressive and pro-women for his time! Sadly, statements from Paul’s epistles are often torn way out of context by liberals and conservatives alike! By liberals to condemn the Bible as backwards and prejudiced, and by conservatives to enforce a modern day patriarchy. A better understanding of the cultural milieu sheds tremendous light.
- Simply Christian, Why Christianity Makes Sense. By NT Wright. HarperCollins, 2010. If you are not a Christian but want to know more about the faith, or if you have already been a Christian for years – either way, this book is worthwhile! Perhaps since he comes from an Anglican (yet evangelical) perspective, Wright has a unique way of explaining things. He covers a lot of territory yet the book is very readable.
- A King and a Kingdom. By Jim Thompson. Auxano Press, 2011. Please see this post where I write a review on this book – it is about narrative theology or seeing the big themes and big picture of the Bible. Jim Thompson is a local, who taught at a Christian high school in my area and is now on pastoral staff at a local church. I went to the high school to observe him teach Systematic Theology and Redemptive History to 10th and 11th graders. W0w, was I impressed with his teaching skills and his ability to teach more complex theological and biblical issues at the high school level! I hope you’ll check out his book.
- The Probability of God: A Simple Calculation That Proves the Ultimate Truth. By Stephen Unwin, Ph.D. Three Rivers Press, 2004. I read through this book with a friend of mine who is an agnostic that wants to believe in Christianity, but just can’t seem to jump the hurdle of faith. She is really into math and I thought she might appreciate this book. She did. While it didn’t turn her into a believer, she said it was helpful for her to see a physicist “crunch numbers” and demonstrate with a high probability that there is a God. (Unwin is not proving Christianity but it is rather from a general monotheistic perspective.) There are lots of math equations in this book, and quite a bit of it went over my head. However, Unwin is also a very witty writer and he kept things interesting with his other related thoughts – which I did understand!
While I read other worthwhile books this year, those were some standouts and also ones more related to the content of this blog. Do you have a blog post about the books you read this year? If so, leave a link for us. Or just share with us a couple of the worthwhile books you read this year!