Thursday, January 01, 2009

2008 Top Ten Books

Here are my top ten books (in no particular order) that I either read or re-read in 2008:

1. Joel Beeke & Dianne Kleyn, Building on the Rock Series (Christian Focus).

My family started reading this five book series as part or our evening family devotions last year and we completed the five book series this year. These simple stories illustrate Biblical and moral principles for children (and adults). Excellent!

2. Joel R. Beeke, Overcoming the World: Grace to Win the Daily Battle (P & R, 2005).

This is a gem for those who serve in pastoral ministry. It offers both great encouragement and deep challenges. I have given away about 20 copies of this book to fellow pastors over the course of the last year, always with the advice that they begin by reading the two practical chapters in the second half of the book on dealing with pride and criticism. Those two chapters will speak deeply to anyone involved in public ministry.

3. J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Evangelical Press, 2004 [originally published in 1879]).

I finally got around to reading this classic. I took the slow approach, reading it over several months. There is so much to process on every page. A stimulating, practical work on sanctification.

4. Theodore P. Letis, The Ecclesiastical Text: Text Criticism, Biblical Authority, and the Popular Mind (Institute for Renaissance and Reformation Biblical Studies, 1997).

Letis dares to challenge the assumption that the modern critical Greek text is superior to the "ecclesiastical text" (textus receptus). He argues that Warfield and others made too great a sacrifice when they accepted Wescott and Hort’s views of the Greek text in the name of seeking the inerrant "original autographs." Letis argues instead for divine preservation of the "apographs" (copies) of the received or ecclesiastical text.

5. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (Signet, 1961 [originally written in 1813]).

OK, I have to admit that I am part of the Jane Austen male fan club (JPBC’s Stephen P. and Steve B. are also members). I got hooked watching the "Complete Jane Austen" series on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater and had to read her classic work. Austen is a master at understanding the human heart and in marveling at the ways of a man with a woman (Proverbs 30:19).

6. John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress (original 1678, 1684).

I re-read the classic while we were in China this summer (mostly on airplanes). This time through I was struck on a deeper level by Bunyan’s Reformed soteriology.

7. Faith Cook, Troubled Journey: A Missionary Childhood in War-Torn China (Banner, 2004).

Faith Cook is an English Pastor’s wife (and a favorite author of my daughter Hannah) who grew up as an MK in China. In this little book, Cook manages both to honor her parents and at the same time critique their Hudson Taylor inspired mind-set of sacrificing family for ministry. A great book for adult children of ministers or missionaries or for anyone who needs to come to terms with childhood misgivings.

8. Joseph Pipa, Jr. Ed., The Worship of God: Reformed Concepts of Biblical Worship (Christian Focus, 2005).

I picked this book up at the Evangelical Forum in September. It is a collection of essays on worship from a theology conference at Greenville Presbyterian Seminary. This book really made me think hard about the regulative principles in worship and has had an impact on our worship practice at JPBC.

9. Joel Beeke, et al, Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism (Reformation Trust, 2008).

Yes, this is the third time you’ve seen Beeke’s name on my list. This book is a wonderful collection of essays on Calvinism. Beeke’s exposition of the five solas and TULIP is superb. But the key argument of this book is that Calvinism is more than soteriology, but a comprehensive worldview impacting one’s views on church, worship, ethics, marriage, family, etc.

10. Ji-Li Jiang, Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution (Harper Trophy, 1997).

Llew and I both read this book last summer before our trip to China. It is the sad story of a young Chinese girl and her family who suffered and persevered during the cultural revolution in China. A tremendous illustration of how sin destroys trust and community, but it also reveals hope and common grace.

A few honorable mentions: Andrew Bonar, Robert Murray McCheynne (Banner, 1960 [1844]); Peter Barnes, A Handful of Pebbles: Theological Liberalism and the Church (Banner, 2008); H. Rider Haggard, Pearl Maiden (Christian Liberty Press, 2003 [1903]); G. A. Henty, With Lee in Virginia (Dover, 2004 [1897]); Wilbur Pickering, The Identity of the NT Text II, 3rd ed. (Wipf and Stock, 2003); Voddie Baucham, Jr, Family Driven Faith (Crossway, 2007); D. A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson (Crossway, 2008); J. I. Packer, A Passion for Holiness (Crossway, 1992).

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