You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.
I recently listed my top 8 books that were published in 2008. But as Solomon wrote, “Of making many books there is no end” and 2009 will be no different. However, I am excited about a few forthcoming titles that I will definitely be reading…
Finally Alive by John Piper releases in January and you can pre-order it for $5 from Desiring God! “Why is the church so ineffectual and characterized by the mosaic generation as unchristian? The term born again has been devalued both in society and in the church. Recent social studies surveys have shown that those who regard themselves as born again Christians have the same tendency to divorce as people who aren’t Christians at all! In these surveys, being born again is defined by what people say they believe. The New Testament defines Christians very differently. Piper defines new birth biblically and helps us to embrace the reality of it. I hope that showing that the new birth is not in our control helps make pastors and other Christians desperate for the supernatural in their ministries.”
Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian has the potential to be one of the best books published this upcoming year and I am very excited for its release. You can watch a video of his talking about what the book is about and why he wrote it. If you do not know, Tullian is the founder and senior pastor of New City Presbyterian Church in Florida and is also the grandson of Billy Graham. It is due for release in April.
The Bookends Of The Christian Life by Jerry Bridges looks to be a great work by one of my favorite contemporary authors. “So what are the bookends of the Christian life? Christ’s righteousness as it is transferred to dependent believers, and the Holy Spirit’s power as it enables their transformation. In continuing their goal to re-center the church at large onto the historic gospel of Jesus Christ, Bridges and Bevington have served up this little book with a big message so that believers and seekers alike can understand these two keys to a genuine Christian life.” A book on Christ’s imputed righteous and the Spirit’s work in us has to be worth the time and price! This book will be published in late March.
Heaven and Earth In The Gospel Of Matthew by Jonathan Pennington will be released in July. Dr. Pennington was a professor of mine at Southern Seminary and truly enjoyed his classes. Matthew is my favorite gospel and his lectures on this subject were fascinating. I am sure this one will repay the time invested many times over.
Learning Evangelism From Jesus by Jerram Barrs is set for publication in late May. This work from the Director of the Francis Schaeffer Institute ” draws lessons and principles for attractively communicating the gospel to unbelievers in our day. Living in a culture that is opposed to Christianity tempts God’s people to conform, to retreat, to be silent. But Jesus showed the way to live faithfully before an unbelieving world. As the greatest evangelist, Jesus exemplified how to attract people to the gospel. He modeled how to initiate spiritual conversations full of grace and truth. Christian evangelism, then, both in theory and practice, must be shaped by his pattern.” Barrs, by studying Jesus’ diverse encounters with people throught the Gospels, seeks to articulate the passions and principles present in Christ’s life and words. This looks like it will be a very practical and helpful book.
Living Water: Studies in John 4 by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones will be published at the end of January. This volume contains 56 previously unpublished sermons on John 4 and how Jesus is the only one who can quench our thirsts. Lloyd-Jones is one of the most well known preachers of the twentieth century and I am looking forward to sitting under his teaching yet again.
The End Of Christianity by William Dembski is scheduled for release in October. “Theodicy attempts to resolve how a good God and evil world can coexist. The neo-atheist view in this debate has dominated recent bestseller lists through books like The God Delusion (Richard Dawkins), God Is Not Great (Christopher Hitchens), and The End of Faith (Samuel Harris). And their popularity illuminates a changing mental environment wherein people are asking harder questions about divine goodness. Surprisingly, these books please intelligent design champion William Dembski, because ‘They would be unnecessary if Christianity were not again a live issue.’ Here, Dembski brings the reader to a fresh understanding of what “the end (result) of Christianity” really means: the radical realignment of our thinking so that we see God’s goodness in creation despite the distorting effects of sin in our hearts and evil in the world.” I am very interested to see how one of the leading proponents of intelligent design attacks the issue of theodicy in light of the neo-atheists.
I like making lists and reading lists, so here is my list of the top 8 Christian books that were published this year. If you are looking for Christmas presents for friends and family, no better place to start than a great book… to go along with a Starbucks giftcard!!
Living for God’s Glory edited by Joel Beeke is a tribute to Calvin in celebration of his 500th birthday. It contains contributions by Dr. Jim Grier, who also is one of three men to whom the book is dedicated, and Dr. Sinclair Ferguson. It is an excellent introduction and exploration into the doctrinal tenets and Calvin’s influence on the church and the world. It is divided into sections of Calvinism in History, In The Mind, In The Heart, In Practice and Its Goal. This work definitely accomplishes Beeke’s goal of covering “the intellectual and spiritual emphases of Calvinism, the way it influences the church and everyday living, and its ethical and cultural implications.”
New Testament Theology by Tom Schreiner explores the major themes in the New Testament and his approach leads the reader to see a unified core of teaching throughout the canon. Schreiner sees two overarching themes and focus his book through the lenses of the unity of redemptive history to the kingdom of God and the goal of the kingdom is the the glory of God through the work of Christ and the empowering presence of the Spirit. Although the book is aimed at scholar, students and pastors and is quite large, it is a very accessible guide to the New Testament canon. Dr. Schreiner was the most influential professor on my studies at Southern Seminary and this work shows why.
The Courage To Be Protestant by David Wells… need I say more? He is one of my favorite authors and this book is his call for the Church to stand courageously faithful to what Biblical Christianity has always stood for, which will give it hope for the future. He calls us to take hold of the historic faith, which he defines through the Reformation’s solas and to reclaim of reverence of doctrine. It is a summary of his previous works on the landscape, critique and challenges of evangelicalism. He is definitely one of the most profound thinkers in Our Time and this work deserves to be read, pondered and applied.
We Become What We Worship by Greg Beale is a biblical theology of idolatry. His main thesis is that “we resemble what we revere, either for ruin or restoration.” Throughout this fascinating work, Beale weaves together Old and New Testament passages in careful study of the destroying power of idolatry on the one hand and the restorative power of worshiping the One True God. Though the book is a little daunting and slow-going at times, his argument is both “convincing and convicting” indeed. Reading this book will challenge you to reflect upon the things in our lives that may actually be idols. It is also a great example of how to truly do biblical theology.
The Prodigal God by Tim Keller was an absolute joy and encouragement of soul to read. I read it in one sitting and the highest praise I can give is that it raised my affections and caused me to worship our great and glorious God. Though the title seems provocative, Keller addresses that concern and it actually brings everything together. “God’s reckless grace is our greatest hope, a life-changing experience, and the subject of this book.” If you want to read a book about the amazing grace of God, this one will cause you to stand in awe of our amazingly gracious God.
He Is Not Silent by Albert Mohler is a treament on the task and challenges of preaching in postmodern times. He wants the church to re-center the element of preaching in the public worship of the church, as he believes and rightly argues that it has been pushed to the sidelines. However, this book is not just for preachers. Any Christian that reads this book will gain a better understanding at what kind of preaching they should expect and seek out in Our Time.
Crazy Love by Francis Chan is a call to a passionate love relationship with God. It is a compelling challenge to to those “who are bored with what American Christianity offers. It is for those who don’t want to plateau, who would rather die before their convictions do.” It is targeted for a younger generation, but, honestly, who wants to plateau in their love for God? I was a little fearful that this book would not live up to my pre-reading hope and the hype surrounding it. I did not agree with every thought and point in the book, but his overall message and theme cannot be ignored. This a great challenge to all Christians that emphasizes loving God through knowing, obeying and living passionately for Christ.
The Reason for God by Tim Keller is a greatly anticipated title from the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Keller had compiled a list of doubts about faith that he encountered throughout the years and in this book he takes each one apart with amazing apologetic skill. This book is probably one of the best books published this year and is definitely worth your time. It would also serve “doubters” well as a gift because it is both incisive in its argument, but full of compassion and grace. Read this book as it is a great apologetic resource for living in our postmodern times.
When studying Isaiah 9, it becomes even more clear that our Wonderful Counselor truly makes foolish the wisdom of this world. In Tim Keller’s new book, The Prodigal God, he talks about how Jesus is the only one who gives hope in the midst of ordinary human life… the only one who can truly help us face death with assurance, confidence and joy.
“Jesus, unlike the founder of any other major faith, holds out hope for ordinary human life. Our future is not an ethereal, impersonal form of consciousness. We will not float through the air, but rather will eat, embrace, sing, laugh, and dance in the kingdom of God, in degrees of power, glory, and joy that we can’t at present imagine. Jesus will make the world our perfect home again. We will no longer be living ‘east of Eden,’ always wandering and never arriving. We will come, and the father will meet us and embrace us, and we will be bought into the feast.”
~ Timothy Keller, 104
If we believe that Jesus is the one who Christmas is truly about and that he is the baby born in the manger, how can we go about our daily activities and not live our lives in light of his preeminence? If we believe that in the end “we will be brought into the feast”, it will hardly be possible not to.
I was reminded of a Don Carson quote this morning after having a conversation about our pastor and his current medical condition. The question that sometimes arises is in these conversations “Is God punishing sin with this sickness?” He has answered that question in a sermon and on his blog. But I was reminded that Don Carson has written something to think about in the book of Job in How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil:
The emphasis on Job’s goodness is meant to highlight the fact that there is a such a thing as innocent suffering…. the link between suffering and retribution found in, say, Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and Romans, is never so mathematically rigid, so symmetrically precise, as to rule out the kind of suffering this book considers…. Although the Bible insists that all sinners will (eventually) suffer, it does not insist that each instance of suffering is retribution for sin. (140)
HT: David Mathis