Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2012: Top Ten Books

Image:  View of one of my newly built basement bookshelves.
It’s time for my annual reading review.  You can also read past reviews for 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.  Here are ten of my top reads for 2012 (in no particular order):

1.      Malcolm Watts, What is a Reformed Church? (Reformation Heritage Books, 2011):  164 pp.

This book provides a brief, concise introduction to the distinctive beliefs and practices of a Reformed church.  It is both clear and charitable and has been a good book to pass on to visitors and inquirers to our church.  It was especially nice to read after meeting Pastor Watts in person and having him preach at CRBC in September 2011.    

2.      Michael Horton, The Christian Faith:  A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Zondervan, 2011):  1052 pp.

Though I did not always agree with his method or conclusions, I profited from reading this weighty systematic theology from a distinctively Reformed perspective.

3.     Michael L. Brown, A Queer Thing Happened to America:  And What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been (Equaltime Books, 2011):  689 pp.

This book by apologist Michael Brown offers a compelling and well-documented review and analysis of advocacy for acceptance of homosexual practice in American and Western culture.  What is amazing is how much further things have developed in the single year since this book was published. 

4.     Various authors, Sermons of the Great Ejection (orig. 1662, 1663; Banner of Truth, 1962, 2012):  276 pp.

Reprinted this year by Banner on the 350th anniversary of “The Great Ejection,” this book provides an anthology of sermons from various Puritan Pastors who were forced from their pulpits due to conscience. 

5.     Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert:  An English Professor’s Journey Into Christian Faith (Crown & Covenant, 2012):  154 pp.

This author of this book, a former professor at Syracuse University, tells the story of her unlikely conversion to Christ through the faithful witness of a Reformed pastor and his church and the not always smooth process of sanctification that has taken place in her life.

6.     Robert B. Strimple, The Modern Search for the Real Jesus:  An Introductory Survey of the Historical Roots of Gospel Criticism (P & R, 1995):  161 pp.

This book offers an insightful survey of modern historical-critical Life of Jesus research from a conservative, evangelical perspective.

7.     Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (orig., 1906; Macmillan, 1968):  413 pp.

I finally had the chance to give this classic of New Testament scholarship a close reading in preparation for teaching a class on “The Life and Teachings of Jesus” in the Spring.  Though a translation from the German original which covers detailed and technical topics, this work held my interest with its wit, penetrating insights, aphoristic expressions, and often biting sarcasm.  I totally disagree with Schweitzer’s conclusions but am in awe of his accomplishment.

8.     Leo Damrosch, Jean-Jacques Rousseau:  Restless Genius (Mariner Books, 2005, 2007):  566 pp.

One of my interests this year was learning more about the Enlightenment.  To that end, I enjoyed reading this biography of Rousseau.  What a man of contradictions.  He writes classic works on education but abandons his own children to the orphanage! 
9.     John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence (orig. 1678; Banner of Truth, 1963):  221 pp.

You can’t go wrong with reading a Puritan paperback!  Flavel’s writing style in this book rivals Thomas Watson in its ease of access.  I found his thoughts on God’s providential care extremely encouraging.

10.     David Murray, How Sermons Work (Evangelical Press, 2011):  160 pp.

This is a creative and practical “how to” book on preaching that I found a stimulating help in sermon preparation.

Other notable reads in 2012:

Puritans:  Harvey Wish, Ed., The Diary of Samuel Sewell (Capricorn Books, 1967);  John Bunyan, The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (orig., 1680; Echo Library, 2007); Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (orig., 1692; Banner of Truth, 1997).

Modern Life of Jesus Studies:  Edgar Krentz, The Historical-Critical Method (Fortress, 1975); Harry Emerson Fosdick, Jesus of Nazareth (Landmark, Random House, 1959); Martin Kahler, The So-called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ (orig., 1896; Fortress, 1964); John A. T. Robinson, Honest to God (Westminster Press, 1963); Adolf Harnack, What is Christianity? (Harper and Row, 1957); James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy, Eds., The Historical Jesus:  Five Views (IVP Academic, 2009); Albert Schweitzer, Out of my Life and Thought (Holt, 1933, 1949).

Text and Translation Studies:  Jeffrey D. Johnson, Behind the Bible:  A Primer on Textual Criticism (Solid Ground, 2012); Philip Comfort, The Complete Guide to Bible Versions (Living Books, 1991); Hershel Shanks, et al., The Dead Sea Scrolls:  After Forty Years (Biblical Archaeology Society, 1991, 1992); Graham A. Patrick, F. J. A. Hort:  Eminent Victorian (The Almond Press, 1988).

Philosophy:  Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy (Garden City Publishing, 1926, 1927); Paul Strathern, Kant in 90 Minutes (Ivan R. Dee, 1996); Nathaniel Bluehorn and Hans Bluehorn, The Fallacy Detective (Christian Logic, 2003).

Bible Study:  James M. Boice, Romans, Vol. 4 (Baker, 1995); John Murray, Romans, Vol. 2 (Eerdmans, 1965); Bart D. Ehrman, A Brief Introduction to the New Testament, Second Ed. (Oxford University Press, 2009); Archibald A. Hodge and Benjamin B. Warfield, Inspiration (orig., 1881; Baker 1979); Clark H. Pinnock, The Message of Galatians (Baker, 1972).

Biography and History:  Anthony Everitt, Cicero:  The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician (Random House, 2001); Bruce Bliven, The American Revolution: 1760-1783 (Landmark, Random House, 1958); Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The “Down Grade” Controversy (Pilgrim, n. d.).

Evangelism Studies:  C. H. Spurgeon, The Soul-Winner (Pilgrim Publications, n.d.); David J. Engelsma, Evangelism and the Reformed Faith (Evangelism Committee of the Protestant Reformed Church, 1994); David J. Engelsma, Hyper-Calvinism & The Call of the Gospel, Revised Ed. (Reformed Free Publishing, 1994).

Theology and ministry:  Joel R. Beeke, Getting Back in the Race: The Cure for Backsliding (Cruciform Press, 2011); W. Gary Crampton, Grant What Thou Commandest:  The Theology of Augustine of Hippo (NiceneCouncil.com, 2011); Timothy Nelson, The Head Covering:  What Saith the Scriptures?  (Mourne Missionary Trust, n. d.); Peter Jeffrey, Bitesize Theology:  An ABC of the Christian Faith (Evangelical Press, 2000); J. V. Fesko, What is Justification? (P & R, 2008).

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