Tag Archives: top books

Books Read in 2017

Every year, at the end of the year, I post the list of books that I read during the year. This year you will notice, the number has dropped down even more from the year before. This is mainly because I’ve been focused on other things. Also you will notice there were a lot of books read on atonement, prayer, and theological Anthropology. These are all related to my schoolwork and research. Finally, all of these are only the books I read to completion.


* = Published in 2017
+ = This is the 2nd+ time reading this book


  1. The Social God and the Relational Self – Stanley Grenz
  2. Bodies and Souls or Spirited Bodies? – Nancey Murphy
  3. Same-Sex Attraction and the Church – Ed Shaw
  4. Body, Soul, and Human Life – Joel Green
  5. Neuroscience and the Soul – Thomas Crisp, Steven Porter, Gregg Ten Elshof


  1. Saving Calvinism – Oliver Crisp
  2. Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? – Nancey Murphy and Warren Brown
  3. Philosophical Approaches to the Devil – Benjamin McCraw and Robert Arp
  4. Being Human – Dwight Hopkins
  5. A Walk Through the Bible – Leslie Newbigin


  1. Creation and Humanity – Veli-Matti Karkkainen
  2. The Person of Jesus Christ – H.R. Mackintosh
  3. The Sentences Book Three: On the Incarnation of the Word – Peter Lombard
  4. On the Unity of Christ – St. Cyril of Alexandria


  1. Jesus: God and Man – Wolfhart Pannenberg
  2. Embodied Souls, Ensouled Bodies – Marc Cortez
  3. On the Incarnation – Athansius+
  4. The Way of Jesus – Jurgen Moltmann
  5. The Identity of Jesus Christ – Hans Frei
  6. Christ and Reconciliation – Veli-Matti Karkkainen
  7. The Unassumed is Unhealed: The Humanity of Christ in the Christology of T.F. Torrance – Kevin Chiarot+
  8. The Logic of God Incarnate – Tom Morris


  1. Martin Luther in His Own Words – Jack Kilcrease & Erwin Lutzer*
  2. Flesh and Blood: A Dogmatic Sketch Concerning the Fallen Nature view of Christ’s Human Nature – Daniel Cameron*
  3. The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture – Yoram Hazony
  4. Christ and Horrors – Marilyn Adams
  5. Christ the Key – Kathryn Tanner
  6. The Word Enfleshed – Oliver Crisp


  1. The Tech-wise Family – Andy Crouch*
  2. Embodied Hope – Kelly Kapic*
  3. The Struggle of Prayer – Donald Bloesch
  4. Knocking on Heaven’s Door – David Crump


  1. Uncommon Decency – Richard Mouw
  2. Beyond the Modern Age – Bob Goudzwaard and Craig Bartholomew*
  3. Enjoy Your Prayer Life – Michael Reeves
  4. Give God the Glory: Ancient Prayer and Worship in Cultural Perspective – Jerome Neyrey
  5. A Community Called Atonement – Scot McKnight
  6. Calvin and the Calvinists – Paul Helm
  7. Jonathan Edwards on the Atonement – Brandon Crawford*
  8. What are we Doing When We Pray? – Vincent Brummer+
  9. The Contemplative Pastor – Eugen Peterson


  1. Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letters to the Thessalonians – Gene Green
  2. Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation – D.A. Carson
  3. All That is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Theism – James Dolezal*
  4. I am Not but I Know I Am – Louie Giglio
  5. The Pastor: A Memoir – Eugene Peterson
  6. The Great Omission – Dallas Willard
  7. Death by Living – N.D. Wilson
  8. NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Thessalonians – Michael Holmes


  1. Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed – Adam Johnson
  2. The Glory of Atonement – Charles Hill and Frank James III
  3. Cross Examinations: Readings on the Meaning of the Cross – Marit Trelstad
  4. Recovering the Scandal of the Cross – Joel Green & Mark Baker+
  5. Feminist Theories of Atonement – Linda Peacore+
  6. The Non-Violent Atonement – Denny Weaver+


  1. The Crucified God – Jurgen Moltmann+
  2. Prayer and Providence – Terrence Tiesen
  3. A Little Book for New Bible Scholars – Randolph Richards & Joseph Dodson*
  4. Was the Reformation a Mistake? Matthew Levering*
  5. The Metaphor of God Incarnate – John Hick+
  6. NIV Application Commentary: 1 Corinthians – Craig Bloomberg


  1. Responsibility and Atonement – Richard Swinburne+
  2. The Pastor Theologian – Gerald Heistand and Todd Wilson+
  3. Jesus the Eternal Son – Michael Bird*
  4. Atonement, Law and Justice – Adonis Vidu+
  5. Calling on the Name of the Lord: A Biblical Theology of Prayer – J. Gary Millar
  6. Unnamed Book on Atonement – Oliver Crisp*
  7. The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism – Carl Henry


  1. TheologyGrams – Rich Wyld*
  2. Walking Through Twilight – Douglas Groothius*
  3. Petitionary Prayer: A Philosophical Investigation – Scott Davision*
  4. The New Christian Zionism – Gerald McDermott*
  5. Immeasurable: Reflections on the Soul of Ministry in the Age of Church, Inc. – Skye Jethani*
  6. The Economics of Neighborly Love – Tom Nelson*

7 Theologians Share Their “Must Read” Books of 2014

At the end of the year tons and tons of “Best Of…” lists make their way out onto the internet. Its almost as though it’s a Noah’s Ark of lists – the lists have been sitting restlessly on a “boat” waiting for the day when the flood waters clear and they can make their way out onto dry land. Okay, maybe that’s a bit exaggerated, but that is how I feel – at least about my own list.



So in the Holiday Spirit of “Best Of…” lists I asked several of my favorite Twitter Theologians a very simple question: “What is the theology book published in 2014 that I must read before the year is over?” I got some great recommendations – here are a few that I found interesting…

Note: These are not books that these theologians necessarily endorse, they are simply must read books of 2014. This might mean that they are really good books that they love or books that they completely disagree about but consider to be “game changers” in some sense. Either way – these are simply important books of 2014.

Michael Bird (@mbird12)

“Simon Chan, Grassroot Asian Theology. Or Moorhead on Princeton Seminary.”

Lincoln Harvey (@lincolnharvey)

“I have high hopes for Oliver Crisp and Fred Sanders’ Advancing Trinitarian Theology, which I’ve ordered (but not read.) McFarland’s From Nothing is a good survey of doctrine creation. Sexton (ed) Two Views on Trinity shows Trinitarian debate today.”

Steve Holmes (@SteveRHolmes)

“[Franticly tries to remember what came out this year…] Depends on field a bit. In Ch history, @ThomasSKidd on Whitefield is important; in ethics @robertjsong on sexuality will define a few debates. In systematics – For Baptists, Freeman’s Contesting Catholicity; for others probably Coakley, God, Sexuality, and the Self.”

Matt Jenson (@MattJenson)

“It was published in 2013, but I *read* it in 2014: Sarah Coakley’s “God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay ‘On the Trinity’””

Andy Rowell (@AndyRowell)

“I read @ajay on BCP [Book of Common Prayer], Marsh on Bonhoeefer, @DrStephenLong on Barth/Balthasaar, and McGrath on Brunner. I plan on reading new books by mentors Richard Hays, Douglass Campbell, and Curtis Freeman, and also newest by Andy Root.”

Kyle Strobel (@KyleStrobel)

“I think Sanctified Grace is worth it and would be challenging in the right kind of ways.”

Scott R. Swain (@ScottRSwain)

“Hard q.

Leiden Synopsis is the most significant pub of 2014 IMO [In my opinion]. Fred Sanders’s Advancing Trinitarian Theo [is] great too. Many others as well.”

So there you have it! I can vouch for some of their recommendations as well – Crisp and Sander’s Advancing Trinitarian theology is great (I haven’t read the book, but I watched all the plenary lectures for LATC 2014 – the source of these essays). Also, Coakley’s book was a real game-changer for me.

Top Seven Books of 2013

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
There’ll books for reviewing
And blogs to be posting
When the end of  ’13 is near
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Yes its that time of the year again. No it’s not Christmas. Its book review season! It’s the time of the year when everybody puts out their favorite books of the year. And in true blogger form I am submitting my own list of favorite books.

Last year, I stuck with books published in 2012. I am sticking to that rule too (no not books published in 2012!), but books published this current year. That means that any book I read that was published in 2013 is eligible for this list.

Here are my qualifications to make it on to this list:

  1. Published in 2013
  2. I would give that book to somebody else
  3. I would re-read the book
  4. It is not a crappy book

With that I give you my favorite books of the year across 7 different categories:

Biblical Studies – Paul and Judaism Revisited by Preston Sprinkle

Paul and Judaism Revisited

It’s the year of the Wright. I mean Paul. Oops. Preston enters the foray with this book. I have reviewed this book at length a few months ago, so let me just sum things up. In Paul and Judaism Revisited Preston Sprinkle presents us with a new lens for comparing Paul and 2nd Temple Judaism: Prophetic and Deuteronomic Literature. This was my “Biblical Studies” book of the year because it was the biblical studies book that sparked the most ideas for papers for me. Lets just say, it might be useful to bring this lens into systematic theology…..

Devotional – Pastor’s Justification by Jared Wilson

Pastors Justification

Early this year I went through a bit of a dry ministry season. You could say that I found myself in a ministry slump. By God’s grace this book helped pull me out of it. Wilson breaks his book up into two parts; 1)An exposition of 1 Peter 5:1-11 and then 2)The 5 Sola’s. This book forced me really check myself and my motivations for doing ministry. The Lord used this book to expose some real idols and some dangerous ministry habits I was forming; so even though it seems to be a ministry book, think of it more like a devotional for pastors.

Ministry – Reading for Preaching by Cornelius Plantinga

Reading for Preaching

This book is pretty short, which means you will have time to do some more “reading for preaching.” Here Plantinga presents the advantages for preachers to have a regular reading program, this includes fiction, biographies, articles, poetry, news, etc. The best part about this book is that he practices what he preaches, his writing is suffused with the “literature” he recommends the preachers dive into. It personally encouraged me to develop my own preaching through reading more fiction.

Mission – Why Cities Matter by Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard

Why Cities Matter

I bought this book on a whim for my kindle, thinking that I probably wouldn’t get to it this year, but boy am I glad that I did get to it. As the title implies, cities matter, they matter a lot to God and to God’s mission, so they should matter to us to. I already buy into their thesis so they didn’t need to convince me, nevertheless their chapters on asking the right questions and contextualization are brilliant. Those questions are such great tool for anybody starting up a ministry in a city, whether they are church planting or starting up a college ministry.

Philosophy/Apologetics – The Experience of God by David Bentley Hart

The Experience of God

The Barthian in my cringes a bit when thinking about natural theology, thankfully that tendency has been tempered a bit, probably partly due to this book. Part philosophical theology, part natural theology, part apologetics, part attack against the new atheists, this book is all a work of genius. There is something about Hart that makes him so convincing, maybe its his cockiness maybe its his wit, but when you read him you can’t help but find yourself marveling at how smart this guy really is. The book tackles the question: What do we mean when we use the word “God?” By breaking our experience of God into three topics 1)Being, 2)Consciousness, 3)Bliss, he clarifies what we mean by God and argues that the God of traditional theism is the best way to explain our “experience of God.”

Theology – God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay on the Trinity by Sarah Coakley

God Sexuality and the Self

For some reason this was the hardest category for me this year. I kept going back and forth between four books: Myk Habet’s Theology in Transposition, Fred Sander’s and Oliver Crisp’s Christology: Ancient and Modern, Mouw and Sweeny’s The Suffering and Victorious Christ, and this book. I settled on this book because it was the most original of the three. Now I’m not the type of person who think “original” or “new” things are better, nor do I line up theological with Coakley in some major places, however her method is absolutely fascinating. There is a lot of potential in this book. And I am guessing it will end up being a book that you will have to engage with when talking about Trinitarian theology. And even more importantly her thesis that human sexuality is actually meant to point towards human desire for God is actually a really beautiful truth.

Best Book of 2013 – In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher

In Search of Deep Faith

Funny story, I never intended to read this book. It wasn’t even on my radar. But Jim Belcher tweeted out that he needed some reviewers, I responded, IVP sent me a free copy, and the rest is history. I was blown away by this book. I was finding myself in a dry season so Belcher’s book came along at a perfect time. In the book there are stories upon stories of “heroes” of the faith; there is just something about reading biographical material that awakens a deep sense of faith within you. This book has parts that are devotional, theological, historical, ministerial and its all weaved into a great literary presentation to boot. In other words its all you could ask for in a book. For that reason I decided that this book was my book of the year.

What were some of your favorite books this year? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Top Seven Books of 2012

The year has come to an end and its time to do what bloggers do… write a “Top x Books of the Year” list. I have read a ton of books this year. Over 130 which means that I read more than 2 books per week. CRAZY! However as I looked at those books most of them were published before 2012 so I was pretty limited in how many books are able to be put on this list. That’s okay though. I still believe that the following books are a worthwhile read. I broke up my top 7 books into several categories: Apologetics, Biblical Studies, Charismatic, Devotional, Ministry, Missions, Systematic Theology.

Apologetics – Where the Conflict Really Lies by Alvin Plantinga

Normally I don’t read apologetics books…. to tell you the truth I am not a huge fan of apologetics. If you want to know why you can ask me later. The truth is though, this book is not an apologetics book it is a philosophy book; Philosophy of Religion meets Philosophy of Science. And by “religion” I don’t simply mean Christianity, I (and Plantinga) include Naturalism within the scope of “religion.” Drawing mainly from the fields of Evolution, Divine Action Theory, and Physics Plantinga shows where the conflict really lies. His thesis is that “there is a superficical conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion, but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism.” He proves this thesis in four steps: 1-show the alleged conflicts between science and Christianity are not really conflicts at all, 2-show that the superficial conflicts between science and Christianity are not “defeater” type conflicts, 3-show that there is deep concord between Christianity and Science, 4- Show that there is deep conflict between Naturalism and Science. He shows this last point by arguing that naturalistic evolution is self-defeating. It is self-defeating because given naturalism and evolution our cognitive faculties are not reliable. While I don’t normally read apologietics I can recommend this philosophy book as an apologetics book because I feel like that is how most Christians will end up using this book anyway.

Biblical Studies – Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G.K. Beale

NT use of the OT is one of my favorite fields of study. I am absolutely fascinated with it, so when I saw that Beale was coming out with a “Handbook” on it, I had to snatch it right up. I have to tell you that I was extremely happy I did that. If you don’t know much about NT use of the OT then get this book! It provides an excellent introduction to the topic. However it serves as more than an excellent introduction, it also provides students with the tools to do this task. If you know Beale’s work on the NT use of the OT you know that whatever tools he is giving you are top quality tools. Beale wrote THE commentary on the NT use of the OT and wrote an excellent biblical theology which uses this method. So if you want to learn from the master pick up this book. Especially useful are his chapters on “an approach to interpreting the OT in the New” and “primary ways the NT uses the OT.”

Charismatic – Spirit Rising by Jim Cymbala

I sort of balk at using the term Charismatic for one of the categories, probably because the term does carry some baggage. See I live in a tension between several worlds; I grew up in a foursquare church, went to a baptist high school, go to Fuller seminary, and work at a broadly evangelical church. But through all these things I consider myself to be Reformed and Charismatic. I’m starting to see a lot of people who are Reformed and Charismatic these days so I am quite encouraged. Anyway, the book by Jim Cymbala is not Reformed but it it Charismatic. What I loved about this book were Pastor Jim’s stories. Stories of the power of God moving in a congregation, moving to help people in need, moving to bring people to saving faith in Christ. This book isn’t spooky or weird, its simple and straightforward. The point of this whole book is to show the reader that God WILL do great things when we open ourselves up to allowing the Spirit to move in our lives and in our churches. As I read this book I got so excited imagining all the things that God wanted to do at my own church. I was encouraged to pray and to seek God on behalf of my ministry. If you want to be encouraged and pumped up read this book.

Devotional – Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson

Open up this book and take a look at who endorses it… now close this book and tell me you don’t want to read it; you can’t! Matt Chandler, Trevin Wax, Sam Storms, Owen Strachan, Ed Stetzer, Tullian Tchividjian, and Chris Woznicki all recommend this book. (Yes I added myself to that list!) I read this book while I was going through a spiritually dry period earlier this year, and this book gave me exactly what I needed, a big dose of the marvelous gospel. Through illustrations and stories of real life people in his congregation Jared Wilson shows you how beautiful the gospel really is. Being enamored by the gospel is what Wilson calls “Gospel Wakefulness,” he defines it as “treasuring Christ more greatly and savoring his power more sweetly.” This book helps you do that, and who doesn’t want that?

Ministry – Gospel Coach Scott Thomas and Tom Wood

To tell you the truth (once again) I found myself reading a lot more Systematic Theology this year and a lot less “ministry” books. I often find myself going through cycles though, for a few months it will be ALL NT studies, then ALL ministry, then ALL charismatic, then ALL systematic theology. Also, this year I didn’t find a ministry book that I was in love with, except for this one. Gospel Coach was so good and so practical. See here is the thing, I am HUGE on multiplying leaders and groups. Multiplication is a BIG deal to me, and you can’t multiply leaders/groups without coaches. So I really believe in coaching. Thomas and Wood tell us why we need coaches and provide a bunch of helfpul/practical ways to help our coaches do their job. However the thing that makes this book stand out is that it isn’t simply practical adivce, its practical advice rooted in the truth of the gospel. Coaching in light of the gospel; “A gospel coach provides Christian leaders a theological foundation and a practical system to develop and equip other leaders in the local church to make disciples and to shepherd them to glorify God and to effectively lead.” If you want to raise up these kinds of leaders read this book. If you want to raise up leaders who not only make other disciples but make other leaders, read this book.

Missions – Finish the Mission by John Piper and David Mathis

This book is a collection of talks given at the “Desiring God: Finish The Mission” Conference. It includes essays by Louie Giglio, David Platt, Ed Stetzer, and of course John Piper (only to name a few). Now there were better books on the practical side of mission, one that comes to mind is JR Woodward’s Creating a Missional Culture, but this book really captures the heart of mission: worship. This is the kind of book that will fire you up for seeing God glorified among the nations. If more people were to read this book and be captured by the vision of this book then the church, especially the consumer driven American church would be better for it.

Systematic TheologyThe Theology of Jonathan Edwards by Michael McClymond and Gerald McDermott

Okay, I’m cheating this book came out at the end of December 2011 but its a no brainer! There were a lot of theology books released this year but this one makes the top of my list (I wish I could have read Oliver Crisp’s Jonathan Edwards on God and Creation because I’m sure that book would have given this book a run for its money). So here is the deal my opinion is biased. My studies (both for school and teaching) focus on the Gospels, NT use of the OT, and the theology of Jonathan Edwards, so its natural that a book on Edwards would top my list in regards to Systematic Theology. If you are into Edwards or want to get into Edwards go read The End for Which God Created the World then go read this book. This tome has everything you need to know to begin your studies on Edwards. Biographical Material: his ministry, his spirituality, and his context. Theological Topics: Strategies and Methods, The Triune God Angels and Heaven, Anthropology and Grace, Salvation History, Church, Ethics, Society, and much much more. Finaly interpretations of Edwards ranging from the New Divinity school to Modern Day interpretations like the one of Lee, Crisp, and Global interpretations. This book is extremely important as a reference book, no one has complied all of this information in one place, and as a book that will launch new topics of discussion.  If there were one thing I could say about this book to convince you to read (or at least buy) this $60 book its this: “Jonathan Edwards never wrote a systematic theology, but McClymond and McDermott have written one for him.”


My favorite book that I read this year was T.F. Torrance’s Atonement but that came out in 2009 so it doesn’t count. However with that in mind my favorite book of 2012 was (drum roll please)…….

The Theology of Jonathan Edwards by Michael McClymond and Gerald McDermott.