Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Ten Books of 2009

Here are the top ten books I read in 2009 (in no particular order; you can compare my 2008 list here):

1. Michael Bushell, The Songs of Zion (Crown and Covenant, 1980).

Bushell makes a cogent and thoughtful argument for exclusive psalmody (the singing of only canonical psalms in Scripturally regulated worship). Though he did not convince me that only canonical psalms should be sung in worship, he did convict me that the singing of canonical psalms should be included in worship (inclusive psalmody).

2. D. G. Hart, Deconstructing Evangelicalism: Conservative Protestants in the Age of Billy Graham (Baker, 2004).

Hart’s radical thesis: “Instead of trying to fix evangelicalism, born-again Protestants would be better off if they abandoned the category altogether… Evangelicalism needs to be relinquished as a religious identity because it does not exist. In fact, it is the wax nose of twentieth century American Protestantism” (p. 16).

3. D. A. Black, Ed., Perspectives on the Ending of Mark (B & H, 2008).

This collection of essays came from a conference held at SEBTS on the disputed ending of Mark (16:9-20). Chapters come from Dan Wallace (“reasoned eclecticism”), Maurice Robinson (Byzantine text), Keith Elliot (“thoroughgoing eclecticism”), and D. A. Black (multiple authorship theory), with a concluding essay from Darrell Bock. Wallace, Elliot, and Bock reject Mark 16:9-20 as authentic while Robinson and Black defend it. Reading this book reinforced my sense that modern textual criticism has been toxic for Biblical authority and further convinced me that Mark 16:9-20 is canonical.

4. Jacob Van Bruggen, The Ancient Text of the New Testament (Premier, 1976).

This respected Dutch scholar offers a convincing defense of the traditional text of the New Testament. I also read Van Bruggen’s The Future of the Bible (Nelson, 1978) which critiques the proliferation of contemporary Bible translations in the evangelical marketplace.

5. John Price, Old Light on New Worship (Simpson, 2005, 2007).

Price, a Reformed Baptist Pastor, makes a strong argument against the use of instrumental accompaniment in the singing of praise in corporate worship based on the Regulative Principle of worship.

6. Gregory A. Wills, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 1859-2009 (Oxford, 2009).

Wills offers an insightful, well-written history of Southern Baptists’ flagship seminary (and my alma mater) on its 150th anniversary. His thesis is that SBTS under Mohler has returned to the Calvinistic roots of its founders.

7. Francis Wayland, Notes on the Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches (Sheldon, Blakeman, & Co., 1857).

Wayland offers interesting insights on the practices of Baptists in 19th century including areas of declension in preaching, worship, and ministry.

8. Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry: with An Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency (Banner of Truth, 1967 [original 1830]).

I finally finished reading through this classic work on the nature and practice of ministry. Its chapters must be slowly digested. Very dense with much to feed upon in every chapter.

9. R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confessions: Our Theology, Piety, and Practice (P & R, 2008).

Clark makes a strong plea for robustly confessional churches that avoid the pitfalls of QUIRC (the quest for illegitimate religious certainty) and QUIRE (the quest for illegitimate religious experience). He has the audacity, among other things, to critique the influence of Jonathan Edwards among evangelicals, including how Edwardsian revival spirituality feeds the hunger for growth through experiences rather than through the ordinary means of grace.

10. Iain H. Murray, The Life of John Murray (Banner of Truth, 2007 [1982]).

Murray offers a warm, devotional biography of the famed Scottish theologian who labored at Westminster Seminary.

Other selected noteworthy reads in 2009:

Biographies: John Marshall, Life and Writings (Banner of Truth, 2005); Everett Gill, A. T. Robertson: A Biography (MacMillan, 1943); Bernard J. Honeycutt, The Sound of His Name (Banner of Truth, 1995); C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography, Volume I: The Early Years (Banner of Truth, 1962 [original 1897-1900]); Philip G. Ryken, The Life of Dr. James Montgomery Boice, 1938-2000 (Gerald Stevens, 2001); Gertrude Hoeksema, Therefore Have I Spoken: A Biography of Herman Hoeksema (Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1969).

Textual and translation studies: Paul D. Wegner, A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible (IVP, 2006); Theodore P. Letis, The Majority Text: Essays and Reviews in the Continuing Debate (Institute for Biblical Studies, 1987); A. T. Robertson, Studies in the Text of the New Testament (Doran, 1926); A. T. Robertson, The Minister and His Greek New Testament (Doran, 1923); Alexander McClure, The Translators Revised (Maranatha reprint, 1858); Rolf Shafer, et al, Textual Research on the Bible: An Introduction to the Scholarly Editions of the German Bible Society (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2008); Alister McGrath, In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture (Anchor, 2001).

Bible Commentaries: Leon Morris, The Revelation of St. John (IVP, 1983); William Hendricksen, Mark (Baker, 1975); D. Edmund Hiebert, The Gospel According to Mark: An Expositional Commentary (BJU Press, 1994); James Montgomery Boice, Romans, Volume I: Justification by Faith [Romans 1-4] (Baker, 1991).

Theology and Ministry: Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism, Revised and Expanded (Moody [1996, 1995] 2007); Li Cheng, trans. Pak Shem, Song of a Wanderer: Beckoned by Eternity (Ambassadors for Christ, 2002); Joel R. Beeke, Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption (Reformation Heritage, 2008); A. W. Pink, Profiting from the Word (Banner of Truth, 1970); Iain Murray, A Scottish Christian Heritage (Banner of Truth, 2006).