Monday, January 6, 2014

Top 10 Reads of 2013

Every year I offer my list of the best books that I have read of the previous year. Now with a new year upon us, here are the ten best books I read in 2013. I read a lot and thus making such a list is always difficult. One book not mentioned below needs explanation. In November I wrote a review for Michael Bird's book Evangelical Theology" but did not include it in the list below. The reason for this is simple: I did not read the entire book, only one section. Zondervan provided me a free copy in order to review one part of the 1000+ page book. Thus, the books below are books I have read in full.


1. "The Cross of Christ" by John Stott

The best book I read this year has to be this classic by the late pastor-theologian Dr. John Stott. It has been on my "to-read" list for years but it wasn't until I was about to preach on the doctrine of the atonement that I decided that this was the one book, above all others, I had to read.




2. "Christless Christianity" by Michael Horton

In a close second comes this gem from Dr. Michael Horton. A big part of Horton's book is the explanation of how Pelagianism and Gnosticism remains popular today in modern Christianity.



3. "Who Do You Think You Are?" by Mark Driscoll

Of all the books that have helped me pastorally in 2013, this book from Driscoll ranks at the top. Driscoll's main argument is that identity is everything. When we embrace the gospel, our identity is now hidden in Christ, not in mere idols. I have found this to be a powerful evangelistic and pastoral approach.



4. "Finally Free" by Heath Lambert

The greatest moral crisis in the church and perhaps in the culture is the ubiquitous nature of pornography. In this book, Dr. Lambert shows how the gospel sets us free from this sin. Every pastor should invest in this book and learn how to apply the gospel not just to pornography but all sins.



5. "Clear Winter Nights" by Trevin Wax

I don't read a lot of fiction but was pleasantly surprised by this little gem. Wax is one of my favorite bloggers and writers and in this book he narratives a simple story between a contrast of characters who discuss matters of faith, theology, evangelism, morality, culture, truth, and the gospel. The book is short and illustrates the power of narrative. Wax succeeds where Brian McLaren and William Young failed.



6. "Against the Gods" by John Currid

One area of biblical inerrancy I have struggled with over the years regards the clear similarity between many biblical narratives and others in ancient near eastern culture. The similarities suggest that the Bible is nothing more than a Jewish version of ancient stories, thus not inspired or unique. Dr. Currid suggests otherwise. Instead of running from the similarities and parallels, he seeks to prove that they strengthen the message of Scripture. His basic argument is that the biblical writers where aware of the stories around them and God used them to prove that he was greater than they.  Dr. Currid, then, suggests the parallels are polemical in nature.




7. "Beowulf"

This is an ancient classic and really the first English classic. I love this story pure and simple and am disappointed that I was never exposed to it in high school or college. 




8. "Bonhoeffer" by Eric Metaxas

This book by Eric Metaxas became an instant bestseller and has contributed to the progressive popularity of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As such, I finally picked up the book and read it. Though I don't think it is the greatest biography of all time, Metaxas is successful in showing why Bonhoeffer matters as a thinker, pastor, theologian, and Christian. Our society would make a turn for the better if it takes Bonhoeffer more seriously.



9. "Sex and Money" by Paul David Tripp

The two most prevalent idols of the heart (outside of pride) might be lust and greed. It drives our culture, economy, and politics and many in our churches are in bondage to one or both. Dr. Tripp walks the reader through the gospel and how the work of Christ frees us from the chains of sex and money.



10. "The Global War on Christians" by John Allen 

The biggest news story you have not heard is the international persecution against Christians. The author provides haunting evidence of just how pervasive and serious this persecution is. Please remember to pray for the persecuted.


Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
"Pillars of Grace" by Steve Lawson: A Review
"Taking God Seriously" by J. I. Packer: A Review
"Fallen: A Theology of Sin": A Review
"Recovering Classic Evangelicalism" by Gregory Alan Thornbury: A Review
"Scottish Theology" by T. F. Torrance: A Review
"Flourishing Faith" by Chad Brand: A Review
"Blood Work" by Anthony Carter: A Review
"Gerald R. Ford" by Douglas Brinkley: A Review
"Skyjack" by Geoffrey Gray: A Review
"Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart" by JD Greer: A Review

 
For more:
Top 12 Reads of 2012
Top 11 Reads of 2011
Top 10 Reads of 2010 
Top 9 Reads of 2009 
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