The end of yet another year means a review of the top books I was able to read and review of the past year. The following are not of books that were released in 2010, but books that I read in 2010. Just because a book isn't fresh doesn't mean that it is not relevant. The following books are among the best and I believe are well worth our time and effort in reading. Though I have read more books than I have reviewed, these are among the best.
10. "Adopted for Life" by Russell Moore - The issue of adoption is an issue that is being taken more seriously by Christians and rightfully so. How can we who have been adopted not adopt ourselves? Adoption is an intricate part of the gospel and perfectly illustrates the gospel. One of the main reasons for the rise in concern over the issue is without a doubt because of Dr. Russell Moore's book. Moore shows how our theology of adoption ought to affect our desire to adopt. Certainly this is one of the most important books written in recent years that ought to be read by every Christian. Moore shares his own story of adopting his sons with the reader providing both a robust theology (something every Christian needs more in our anemic Church culture) and practical advice on adoption and adopting.
9. "A Patriot's History of the United States"- This has to be one of the best history's of the United States I have read in sometime. It covers America from Christopher Columbus to modern times. By far the best part is their tracing and survey of progressivism in America prior to former President Woodrow Wilson on through the decades. The authors offer the reader one of the best survey's on the issue and really show what progressivism was really about. But that's not all. The entire book is written from a more conservative book (though not purposefully conservative or trying to set an agenda). Sadly most history's are written from a more progressive/liberal perspective and thus misinterprets the Founders and their intentions.
8. "Their God is Too Small" - Last year I did a sermon series on the doctrine of God and one of the most recent attacks on the traditional and orthodox view of God is Open Theism which argues that the future remains open even to God who can predict (by essentially guessing) but He is not sovereign or provident over the future. This has serious implications and the movement has gained some support among Christians and popular culture. By far the best and most precise summary and critic from a Reformed perspective comes from the pen of Dr. Bruce Ware. Ware is one of the leading voices against Openness Theology and this book shows why. He has written other more extensive works against the movement in other books including God's Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism and God's Greater Glory: The Exalted God Of Scripture And The Christian Faith, but I found this one the most readable, practical, and pastoral than the others. Ware is an excellent writer who provides the reader with great theology, based on sound exegesis, showing the reader why these issues really matter. A great work of theology.
7. "Slave" by John MacArthur - I believe that if Christians recovered the message of this book the Church would be better off. We are not servants of Christ, we are slaves. Servants can quit. Slaves cannot. But its more than that. As MacArthur shows in this important work, the gospel takes us from slaves of sin to slaves of Christ, to friends of Christ, to adopted sons of God, to finally joint heirs with Christ. That is beautiful! Furthermore, the slave imagery perfectly illustrates sin. In my years of ministry I have seen this repeatedly. What holds many from the gospel isn't their lack of understanding of it, but their unwillingness to disobey their master: sin. The question isn't, are we slaves, but who/what are we enslaved too? MacArthur has written an important work that should be read by all Christians.
6. "the Gospel According to Jesus" by John MacArthur - Perhaps his best selling and most influential book, The Gospel According to Jesus remains a must read classic for Christians. As the title suggests, this is a book about the gospel and MacArthur zooms in on the ministry and message of Jesus. This is a well-written powerful book. Though its context is in response to the Lordship controversy of 20 years ago, it is still a relevant read. In this 25th Anniversary addition, MacArthur adds a new chapter (on being a slave of Christ) that only adds to the books content making his case even greater. The gospel is not cheap and we cannot separate fruit from redemption. Those who are redeemed bear fruit.
5. "Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: 1859-2009" by Gregory Wills - My alma mater, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has one of the most fascinating, and cultural shaping histories in America. If one wants to understand Southern Baptist theology of the 19th Century or of progressive theology of the 20th century or of reformed theology of the 21st century, all they need to do is study Southern's history. Some of the greatest theological minds have walked the campus of Southern and its rich heritage continues to follow the school. Dr. Wills has put together a fantastic history of the school released during its sesquicentennial (150th anniversary that is) and is a great read even for those unfamiliar with SBTS. I would also point out a book written by another SBTS professor on the founder of Southern, James Petigru Boyce: A Southern Baptist Statesman (American Reformed Biographies) by Thomas J. Nettles.
4. "Doctrine" by Mark Driscoll - I love to study theology and due to my many responsibilities have studied more theology this year than I have perhaps my entire life. 2010 saw the released of Mark Driscoll's book on theology and it is certainly an impressive work. Admittedly, it is not a traditional theology that seeks to deal with every issue. However, the authors do deal with all the major aspects of theology in some detail shows the reader why such issues are important. I particularly loved the pastoral side of the book (especially since I am a pastor) and its great readability. The authors aren't just trying to impress, but teach and it comes through every page. Driscoll is an important leader in Evangelicalism today whose voice is becoming much stronger every day. This is a great read even if you disagree with some of his theology and methods.
3. "The Sovereignty of God" by AW Pink - For those who have studied theology long enough, AW Pink needs no introduction. Pink is one of the most quotable theologians of recent years and his writings remain with us. In this class, as the title suggests, Pink deals with the difficult issue of the sovereignty of God. Pink is essentially a Calvinist. But even if one rejects Calvinism there is much to like about this book. In short, I would say, I want to meet the God of this book. Then again, maybe I don't! Pink shows how imperative God's sovereignty is to our lives and why it matters. Though this subject is difficult, Pink forces the reader to follow his argument and to take him seriously. Of all the books of theology I read this year, this was perhaps my favorite though I disagreed with him on several points. The writing style and the content is top-notch.
2. "Raised With Christ" by Adrian Warnock - The resurrection has almost been forgotten, if not ignored, by most Christians today and that is a serious shame. The resurrection, like the cross, is hugely practice and Warnock shows us how. This is a book about the resurrection plain and simple. The author provides evidence for its historicity, a theology for its meaning, and application for its practice. As a pastor, I consider this to be an invaluable tool. Christians need to learn to think in terms of the cross and resurrection and view everything through those two events. This ought to be on the reading list of every Christian and I am glad I took the time to read its pages.
1. Decision Points by George W. Bush - Last year it was Sarah Palin, this year it is former President George W. Bush. The President's book really needs no introduction and has sold millions. I enjoyed this book a lot. Though there is much I disagree with the President on, I highly respect the man for his actions as President and certainly for the way he has carried himself in his post-presidency. The president walks the reader through many of his biggest decision in life (mostly in office), how and why he made them, what he would have done differently, and how he wants to be remembered. The book is easy to read and the president honestly seeks to get the facts right. Whether one loves or hates President W., everyone should at least hear him out here.
Well these are the best books I read in 2010, but they are not the only books or the only books worth mentioning. Below are several more books well worth our time and effort in reading and considering and should be on all of our bookshelves. Click on the titles to read the full review. Here's to 2011!
"Ancient Word, Changing Worlds"
"The Good News We Almost Forgot"
"Dug Down Deep" by Joshua Harris
"Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is)"
"For Us and Our Salvation"
"A Sweet and Bitter Providence" by John Piper
"Just Do Something" by Kevin Deyoung
"A Century Turns" by William Bennett
"Humility: True Greatness" by CJ Mahaney
Reviews - Top 9 Reads of 2009