Saturday, January 01, 2011
Top Ten Books of 2010
Image: View from a shelf in Lloyd Sprinkle's library which I visited this past year (see post)
Top ten books read in 2010 (in no particular order; you might also note that none of the books I read in full last year were even printed in 2010; compare lists from 2008 and 2009):
1. William Still, Dying to Live (Christian Focus, 1991). I was encouraged by reading this autobiography of the Scottish Pastor who was influential in reviving the method of systematic expositional preaching through books of the Bible. I also read his book The Work of the Pastor (Christian Focus, 1984, 2001). See my blog post here.
2. Keith Mathison, Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (P & R, 2002). This book challenged my “Zwinglian” views of the Lord’s Supper. See my blog post here. Though I did not agree with everything—like Mathison’s openness toward infant communion—this book (along with Calvin’s commentary on Acts 2:42; 20:7) did push me to reconsider the issue of frequency. We host the Lord’s Supper every Sunday at CRBC.
3. Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments (original 1692; Banner revised ed. 1965). Brilliant exposition of the moral law of God. I read Watson’s commentary as I preached a Lord’s Day afternoon series at CRBC through the Ten Commandments. Watson is a master communicator and practitioner of “plain preaching” (using simple language and timeless illustrations to communicate truth). Spurgeon called him a “racy writer.” Nearly every paragraph has a quotable quote. If you want to read the Puritans, it is probably best to begin with Watson rather than John Owen. Watson became my “Puritan of the Year” (see below for other Watson books read in 2010).
4. Boon Sing Poh, The Keys of the Kingdom: A Study on the Biblical Form of Church Government (Good News Enterprises, 1995; revised ed. 2000). Groundbreaking work on ecclesiology from a Malaysian Reformed Baptist pioneer who has suffered persecution (including imprisonment) in his homeland for Christ. Poh puts forward a persuasive Biblical and historical-theological argument for an “Independent” form of Baptist church government including officer roles for the minister, ruling elders, and deacons. As I read this book, I kept thinking, “Wow, this man is saying so many of the things that I have intuitively come to see through Scripture study on the doctrine of ecclesiology.” This book was particularly helpful in planting a new church and writing its founding documents. CRBC’s ecclesiology reflects much I learned from Poh. I also read the critique of Poh by Samuel Waldron, et al in In Defense of Parity (Truth for Eternity Ministries, 1997) and Poh’s online rejoinders in his “Gospel Highway” magazine.
5. James M. Renihan, Edification and Beauty: The Practical Ecclesiology of the English Particular Baptists, 1675-1705 (Paternoster, 2008). A reprint of Renihan’s dissertation. This is an excellent historical-theological study of the early English Particular Baptists. If anyone doubts whether it is appropriate for Baptists to be called “Reformed,” he should read this book. Note: Renihan offers significant interaction with Poh (cited above). Though not in full agreement with Poh, he verifies the influence of Independency on Particular Baptists (e.g., the use by some early Baptists of the office of “Ruling Elder”). Read a full review in the November 2010 issue of the RBT here.
6. William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Simon and Shuster, 1960). I had always wanted to read this massive and detailed account (1245 pp.) of Hitler’s Germany. Long homebound periods of winter snow provided the opportunity. What an illustration—as if we needed more evidence—of man’s depravity and his capacity for inhumanity to his fellow man.
7. Virgil, The Aeneid (verse translation by Allen Mandelbaum, Bantam, 1961). Arma virumque cano…. Over two years ago, I started reading a few pages of the classic epic poem on the mythical founding of ancient Rome to the children over lunch on Fridays (after we spent the morning doing Latin and Greek). We finally finished it up this Fall. Though the kids moaned and groaned at times, we were all gripped by the final struggle between Aeneas and Turnus which ends, “Relentless, he sinks his sword into the chest of Turnus. His limbs fell slack with chill; and with a moan his life, resentful, fled to Shades below.” It also gave us plenty of opportunities to compare and contrast the pagan and Christian views of life.
8. Robert L. Dabney, Discussions: Evangelical and Theological, Volume I (original 1890; Sprinkle reprint, 1982). I must admit that I still have a few more articles to read before I can say I have read the book from cover to cover, but readings from this volume brought great enjoyment and edification in 2010. If Piper can claim Edwards as his “life theologian” I am tempted to pursue Dabney. What a mind! His “The Influence of the German University System on Theological Literature” is a devastating critique of the historical-critical method. “The Christian Sabbath: Its Nature, Design, and Proper Observance” is a forceful argument for the abiding validity of the fourth commandment on the Christian conscience, and “The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek” along with his review “The Revised Version of the New Testament” provides a winsome defense of the traditional text of the Bible. I have already purchased volume 2 from Sprinkle and hope to begin it in 2011.
9. John Bunyan, The Holy War (original 1682, Baker reprint 1977). Though overshadowed by Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan’s “other” allegory richly rewards the reader who discovers it. Bunyan tells the story of how Prince Emmanuel frees “the famous town of Mansoul” from the tyranny of Diabolus and his henchmen.
10. C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography: Volume 2: The Full Harvest (Banner revised ed. 1973). Though not a true “autobiography,” since it was compiled by Spurgeon’s wife and secretary after his death, this book is a gem. I read the first volume in 2009 and followed up with the second this year (the Banner two volume edition is an abridgement; the full four volume original can still be attained from Pilgrim’s Press). This book is a compelling look at the life of this pulpit giant. It is a treasure trove for Spurgeon quotations and anecdotes (which I made use of in this blog throughout the year and in The Reformed Baptist Trumpet, and you’ll likely see more in 2011!).
Other books read in 2010 and honorable mentions:
Thomas Watson: All Things For Good (first published in 1663 as “A Divine Cordial”; Banner ed. 1996); The Lord’s Supper (original 1665; Banner ed. 2004); The Lord’s Prayer (original 1692; Banner ed. 1965).
Other Puritan authors: Mathew Mead, The Almost Discovered Christian (original 1661; SDG ed. 1993); Thomas Boston, The Art of Man-Fishing (Old Paths, n.d.) [see blog post].
Worship: Malcolm Watts and David Silversides, The Worship of God (Marpet Press, 1998); D. G. Hart and John R. Muether, With Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship (P & R, 2002); David J. Engelsma, et al, Reformed Worship (Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2004).
Biblical studies: Terry A. Chrisope, Toward a Sure Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Dilemma of Biblical Criticism, 1881-1915 (Christian Focus, 2000); D. Edmund Hiebert, 1 Peter (BMH, 1984, 1992); Alan J. MacGregor, Three Modern Versions: A Critical Assessment of the NIV, ESV, and NKJV (The Bible League, 2004); Michael Bentley, Living for Christ in a Pagan World: 1 & 2 Peter Simply Explained (Evangelical Press, 1990); Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Broadman & Holman, 2003) [on Petrine commentaries, see my blog post].
Systematic Theology: In 2010 I completed a re-read of John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volume I (Westminster John Know, 1960).
Biography and Church History: Frances Bevan, The Life of William Farel (Bible Truth, 1975); Scott and Kimberly Hahn, Rome Sweet Rome: Our Journey to Catholicism (Ignatius, 1993); Eric H. Sigmund, From Harvard to Hell and Back (Scribe, 2001); Nathan Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (Yale, 1989) [see blog post]; Iain Murray, The Old Evangelicalism: Old Truths for a New Awakening (Banner, 2005); Hannah Rosin, God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America (Harcourt, 2007) [see blog post].
Children’s devotional books: John Tallach, God Made Them Great (Banner, 1974); Idem., They Shall Be Mine (Banner, 1981).
Preaching and Ministry topics: Horatius Bonar, Words to Winners of Souls (original 1860, P & R ed., 1995); Idem., The Sin Bearer (Pietan Publications, 2005); E. S. Williams, The Dark Side of Christian Counseling (Wakeman Trust, 2009) [see blog post]; “Stuff” No One Told Me About Church Planting (unpublished manuscript, n. d.).
Notable booklets, tracts, and pamphlets: By Robert G. Spinney and published by TULIP Press: Peeking Into the Devil’s Playbook: Satan’s Strategies for Tempting Christians to Sin (2000); Looking for God in All the Wrong Places: An Appeal for Word-Based Corporate Worship (2006); Did God Create Sports Also? Thinking Christianly About Sports (2006); Monkeying Around with Dangerous Ideas: Four Reasons Outside the Field of Science Why Christians Should Reject Evolutionary Theory (2006); Are You Legalistic? Grace, Obedience, and Antinomianism (2007); A. W. Pink, The Ten Commandments (1941; Chapel Library ed.); Marguerite Couturier Steedman, A Short History of the French Protestant Huguenot Church of Charleston, South Carolina (Lectour Ltd., 1970); John Thackway, Worldliness (Bible League Trust, 2004); Words of Truth # 1: Maurice Roberts, “The Higher Critical Movement” and John Thackway, “Reopening the Wells” (Bible League Trust, n. d.).