Friday, December 23, 2011

Top Reads of 2011 - The Delightful Dozen

Here is my list of Top Reads for 2011. Listed below are a dozen books that you cannot go wrong with.  Some of these books were published in 2010, most were published in 2011, but all were read during the past year. The top two books are in order, but after that they have been arranged with no order intended. All of these books have my strongest recommendation. Let me know what great books you read this year!

Top Read:

    As I stated in my review of this book, this was my top read of 2011. This well-written book both stretches the mind and enlivens the affections for God. As I wrote, “Oliphint has produced a compelling and awe-inspiring exposition of the theological and apologetical significance of the condescension of God.” This stimulating look into the condescension of God, and how that speaks to his character and attributes, is a book you should read if you haven’t already. What better way to celebrate Christmas than a book that explores and celebrates the ultimate condescension of God in the Incarnation.

    Runner Up:

    Early in September I blogged “I have been using the Kevin DeYoung book, The Good News We Almost Forgot, as a devotional for just over two weeks. What a wonderful journey it has been so far. As DeYoung unpacks the Heidelberg Catechism, the beauty of this creed is brought to life. And the Creed itself is a moving piece of literature, powerful without any commentary. I highly recommend it.” This book I recommend was number two on my top reads of 2011. It was powerful for two reasons: first, it introduced me to a moving piece of theology from our history in the Heidelberg Catechism, and second, DeYoung’s heart-warming and mind-enriching commentary helped bring this catechism to life. It was excellent as a devotional alongside daily Bible reading.

      The Deity of Christ by ed. Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson
    I summed up my review of this book with, “Some books are classics that you will read many times over your lifetime. This is not that book. Some books are barely worth reading, and having read them, you'll never crack them open again. This is not that type of book either. But, some books are valuable in that they provide you with a resource for future reference that you will consult at different times for different reasons at many times. That is this book.” This is a solid book covering many aspects, by many experts, of the theological concepts surround Christiology.

    Schreiner’s book is a very practical help that addresses many, if not most, of the issues modern Christians wrestle with concerning the Law and grace. The question and answer format makes it very accessible when reading for the first time as it deals with one issue at a time. The format will also make it a valuable resource for future study and reference. This book was the impetus I needed to add Schreiner to the list of authors I will be reading more of in 2012.

    Here is the list of contributors to this compilation of essays dedicated to John Piper and edited by Justin Taylor and Sam Storms: Randy Alcorn, Gregory K. Beale, D. A. Carson, Mark Dever, Wayne Grudem, John MacArthur, C. J. Mahaney, R. Albert Mohler Jr., David Powlison, Thomas R. Schreiner, Bruce A. Ware, Thabiti M. Anyabwile, Jon Bloom, Sinclair B. Ferguson, Scott J. Hafemann, James M. Hamilton, Jr., David Livingston, David Mathis, David Michael, William D. Mounce, Stephen J. Nichols, Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Tom Steller, Mark Talbot, Donald J. Westblade. If you are familiar with even a few of these author-pastors-scholars you will know that you should read this book. I foresee returning to this book throughout the years to glean from the wisdom in its pages.

    What this book lacks in size in makes up for in practical and realistic commentary on how we need to preach to ourselves on a daily basis. Of the people we need to be honest and upfront with, the person who stares back at us from the mirror is paramount. Thorn is addressing himself in these epistle-like chapters and the dialogue is real and too easy to relate to my own life. I used this book as a devotional and the daily injection of authentic, healthy introspection gave this book a spot on my list.

    Over the course of 2011, I found myself drawn to pursue a better understanding of suffering and the theological ramifications of a proper view of trials and God’s relation to them. Michael Horton is one of our era's premier theologian-pastors and when given the opportunity to read his take on this weighty subject I jumped at it. This book did not disappoint. As any good book on suffering, this was at times a challenging and convicting read. But it was a healthy and necessary foray into one of the integral questions that all people must address; what do I do with and believe about suffering? This book continues to impact me.

    Biggest surprise on this list goes to Surprised by Oxford. Consider the first four words of the following product description: “A girl-meets-God style memoir …” Not a chance I’m reading it, right? Nevertheless, my wife, having met the author, came home one day with a copy of the book in question. The endorsement on the front by Alister McGrath caught my attention and that, coupled with a fascination of all things Oxford, was enough to get me reading the book. And what a pleasant surprise it was. Read it and see.

    From my review of Lit! : “Reinke has taken great care to make his writing readable and the truths he puts forward on a much written about topic are unexpectedly ingenious and inventive. His stalwart faithfulness to God's inerrant, inspired Word and the necessity of a regenerated life are educating, endearing, and essential to this book's value.” This book is valuable for both avid readers and non-readers. This book would be a great start towards making 2012 a year of reading.

    This book was challenging for me as poverty and the issues surrounding are difficult for me to deal with both theoretically and practically. Armstrong does a wonderful job at considering poverty in light of the Biblical account of the problem and its remedy. Never straying far from the Bible, Armstrong adds some helpful practical tips to go along with his theological considerations. This is a solid work on the subject. I reviewed this book earlier in the year.

    Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian
    This novel by Tchividjian is a powerful gospel-saturating look into the gospel, grace, and how those things work in our life. Tchividjian relentlessly reminds the reader of the absolute necessity of dependency on Christ and his work and the utter futility of regarding our own work and selves as able to save us. I enjoyed the life-story that went along with the authors revealing of and revelling in the gospel.

    At the time of my review, I wrote “I found this book a great, quick read on a topic that we North Americans need constant reminder about. The Greener Grass Conspiracy stays far away from self-help therapy and cliche-ridden platitudes by focusing on God and the gospel.” Altrogge use of sarcasm and humour made this an enjoyable read; I found myself laughing at my own lack of contentment and at the same time felt encouraged to pursue contentment in Christ.

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