10 Jan 2013
- Brian Nixon | Assist News
Dan Wooding, the founder of the ASSIST News Service, has given me the honor of listing the "best books" of the year, giving ANS readers some helpful hints in continued reading options within the Christian faith. I've given a list for three years running now.
This year is no different, but a couple of qualifiers are in store. First, the books I state are ones that I have read, not the staff at ANS, and therefore represent my opinion and my personal reading. Second, the books chosen, generally speaking, are from an evangelical viewpoint, though at times I stray from this vantage point. So I must note that my personal tastes have a slight bias. Third, the books chosen cover several fields of thought, though heavy on theology and Biblical studies.
Now that that's out of the way, here is my list of the best books of 2012.
How God Became King, NT Wright. Harper One Publishing.
NT releases a book a year, if not more. And he always finds a way to make my list. This past year NT wrote a wonderful work on the balance between kingdom living (doing) and kingdom teaching (preaching). Using the four Gospels as his springboard, Mr. Wright discuses how they demonstrate the fact that God—in the person of Jesus—became King.
Did Jesus Exist?, Bart Ehrman. Harper One Publishers.
Though I stated the books on my list are generally evangelical, I have on my list a fellow who's not even a Christian. Barth Ehrman is a fascinating writer. And though I disagree with many of his conclusions, this book makes for an interesting read. Not only does Ehrman dismantle proponents of the school of thought that state "Jesus never lived," Ehrman gives clear evidence that Jesus did in fact inhabit this Earth. Of course as a non-Christian, Ehrman has a very different perspective on the person and work of Jesus. But none-the-less the book makes for a stimulating, and at times, frustrating read.
A Free People's Suicide, Os Gusiness. IVP Publishers.
Mr. Guinness has written a couple of fine books that all Americans, and particularly, Christian—Americans, should read. The first came out a couple of years ago: The Case for Civility. This year Guinness released a wonderful critique of American freedom, A Free People's Suicide. In this book Guiness discusses Americans current cultural and political predicament and offers solutions to the crises in American civilization. Leave it to a non-American to clearly articulate the issues facing America!
Art as Spiritual Perception, James Romaine. Crossway Publishers.
James Romaine has put together a fine assortment of essays discussing the life and work of art historian, E. John Walford. As former art historian at Wheaton College, Walford has influenced many people through his books and lectures. Romaine's book is a wonderful homage to the man, as well as a fine discussion on the importance of art and spirituality in Western culture and Christian thought.
Canon Revisited, Michael J. Kruger. Crossway Publishers.
In a day and age where all things "Bible" are being dismantled, it's refreshing to read a book that supports the traditional alignment of the Canon, particularly the New Testament. Using creeds, history, and Biblical text to defend the authority of the New Testament, Kruger stands firm on the historical grouping of the Bible.
The Big Book of Apologetics, Norman Geisler. Baker Books.
In an easy to use format, Geisler's newest handbook on apologetics gives the Christian reliable explanations on an assortment of topics such as difficult Bible passages, philosophical systems, ethical issues, and worldview assessment. Geisler is balanced, yet thorough.
Godly Ambition, Alister Chapman. Oxford Press
Released in December 2011 (close enough for 2012), Godly Ambition is the first "academic" biography of John Stott. Timothy Keller calls it a "must read." In it, Chapman chronicles the life, work, and ministry of one of the evangelical world's most respected leaders. With Stott no longer with us, biographies, and Stott's books, are the means to hear from this honored Christian minister.
Inerrancy and the Gospels, Vern Poythress. Crossway.
Poythress' book upholds an evangelical and Biblical stance concerning the Gospels: they are God-inspired and reliable. Yet Poythress doesn't shy away from difficult sections of the Gospels in his harmonization. Using clear thinking, scholarship, and some helpful diagrams, Poythress demonstrates that the Gospels are indeed trustworthy.
When I Was A Child I Read Books: Essays, Marilynne Robinson. Farrar, Staus and Giroux.
Robinson is not an evangelical writer, but is a very thoughtful Christian writer with great insight. As a Pulitzer Prize winning author, Robinson, discusses such divergent topics as generosity in the Christian faith, global debt, and the Bible.
The Church in an Age of Crisis: New realities Facing Christianity, James Emery White. Baker Books.
As the book description states, "Though many of the signs of the times are disturbing to those of us in the church, we ignore them to our great peril." In this work, White tackles topics such as the media, failing marriages, worldviews, and post-modern ideology. It's a readable and helpful book in understanding our current religious and cultural climate.
With my list now complete, I feel it would be beneficial to offer a couple of other noted Christian news agencies that have provided their "Best of" books in 2012.
Christianity Today: 2012 CT Book Awards
Good God: The Theistic Foundation of Morality, David Baggett and Jerry L. Wallis. Oxford Press.
Jesus + Nothing + Everything, Tulian Tchividijian. Crossway Publishers.
Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes, Kenneth E. Bailey. IVP Academic.
Ravished by Beauty, Belden C. Lane. Oxford University Press.
Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy, Paul Gutjahr. Oxford University Press.
Word Made Global: Stories of African Christianity in New York City, Mark R. Gornik. Eerdmans.
Renovation of the Church: What Happens When a Seeker Church Discovers Spiritual Formation, Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken. IVP.
Caleb's Crossing, Geraldine Brooks. Viking Adult Publishers.
The Christian Faith: Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, Michael Horton. Zondervan.
Books & Culture: A Christian Review. By John Wilson.
Alien Vs. Predator, Michael Robbins. Penguin.
And Bid Him Sing: A Biography of Countee Culleen, Charles Molesworth. University of Chicago Press.
The Black Box, Michael Connelly. Little, Brown, and Company.
The Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, Marly Youmans. Mercer University Press.
How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain, Leah Price. Princeton University Press.
The Hunger Angle, Herta Muler. Metropolitan Books.
The Little Red Guard: A Family Memoir, Wenguang Huang. Riverhead Publishing.
Shlovsky: Witness to an Era, Serena Vitale. Dalkey Archive Press
Under the North Light: The Life and Word of Maud and Miska Petersham, Lawrence Webster. Woodstalk Arts Publishers.
Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows, Richard Cahan and Michael Williams. City Files Press.
Escape velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany, Charls Portis. Butler Center Press.
So there you have it: three books lists. If you have yet to spend your Christmas money from this past year, do yourself a favor and buy a book; it's the gift that keep on giving. When you're finished, pass the book along to friend, and hopefully they'll do the same. Let this be a year of reading and giving. As Christian author and pastor, Warren W. Wiersbe, reminds us "readers are leaders".