Every year I offer my list of the best books I read the previous year. Now with a new year upon us, here are the ten best books from 2016 I read and reviewed. I read a lot and thus making such a list is always difficult. So here is my best effort.
"Onward" by Russell Moore: A Review - The best and most important book I read all year (and according to my GoodReads account that is over 125 books) is Russell Moore's Onward. Moore, who heads the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, provides Christians with an understanding of politics and political engagement with the gospel at the center for the 21st century. Any believer serious about the gospel and how it informs our view of public policy, this is a must read.
2. "Truth Overruled" by Ryan Anderson: A Review - Religious liberty has not come under as much assault in American history as it has these last few years. The secular witch hunters are going out of their way to utilize Leviathan as a means to shutting up religious and conscientious objectors to their religion of sexual liberty. Ryan Anderson provides one of the best works defending religious liberty in light of this onslaught and shows how we can "all get along."
3. "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman: A Review - This is a classic work written during the Reagan administration. I read it in college and returned to it in light of the 2016 presidential campaign. Postman has penned a prophetic volume especially if one applies his warnings to the world of digital and social media.
4. "American Crucifixion" by Alex Beam - There is perhaps no more unique religious figure in American history than Joseph Smith. This work focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on his death/murder. The author includes numerous historical insights that are key to understanding Mormons in general and Smith in particular.
5. "Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor" by Glenn Stanton - The title tells the story of this book. Stanton is the right man to write this book and it is an important work for Christians in a post-Obergefell world. The gospel compels us to love our neighbor even if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
6. "When Sinners Say 'I Do'" by Dave Harvey - I have been looking for another helpful book on marriage for both pre-marital and marriage counseling. I found it in this volume. I have recommended it to other pastors and couples already. At the root is the gospel understanding that we are sinners who need Jesus.
7. "You Will Be Made to Care" by Erick Erickson and Bill Blankschaen - It is no accident that a year after same-sex marriage is legalized in America, two books on religious liberty appear on this list. Erickson and Blankschaen provide a helpful survey of the secular witch hunt against people of faith and where we should go from here. The most helpful section regards the philosophy of the left rooted in the Hegelian geist found most clearly in their "wrong side of history" rhetoric.
8. "The Quiet Man" by John Sununu - It is my goal to slowly read a serious biography of every American president. One modern President that I have found lacked a biography that peaked my interests is George HW Bush (although I would recommend his son's biography which borders on the hagiographical). Sununu served in the Bush White House and does get a bit "wonky" but overall provides a good defense of Bush 41. Political junkies will enjoy this work.
9. The Book of Mormon: A Biography" - I have never read a biography of a book. Yet in my study of Mormonism this year, this work was helpful in understanding the genesis of the faith and the man who stands behind it. The author provides some key insights that the reader might find striking like Smith's multiple editions of "The Book of Mormon" he published.
10. "Unashamed" by Lecrae - Lecrae is one of my favorite musical artists today and this is a memoir that takes us into the inner city world of black America and how he found Christ through it all. I really appreciate Lecrae's honesty and openness.
Other Notable Books (in no particular order):
"Visit the Sick" by Brian Croft
"Nineteen Eighty-Four" by George Orwell
"The Time Machine" by H. G. Wells
"Present Concerns" by CS Lewis
"Who's Tampering With the Trinity?"" by Millard Erickson
"What Christians Ought to Believe" by Michael Bird
"Four Views on Hell" Edited by Preston Sprinkler
"3 Crucial Questions About Spiritual Warfare" by Clinton Arnold
"Baptists on the American Frontier" by Chester Raymond Young
"Rebel in Chief" by Fred Barnes
"The World's Last Night" by CS Lewis
Best Books of 2016
Top Reads of 2015
Top Reads of 2014
Top 10 Reads of 2013
Top 12 Reads of 2012
Top 11 Reads of 2011
Top 10 Reads of 2010
Top 9 Reads of 2009