In the past several years many thousands of books have been published. Hundreds of those are important. Dozens are quite significant, at least from a Christian point of view. But with so many valuable recent titles out there, I thought I might list ten that I consider quite profound and deserving of our attention.
I have been rummaging through the many piles of books overtaking my floors, tables, desks, etc. The ten I have pulled from the toppling piles are all rich in insight, analysis and conviction. Many fall into the area of apologetics or ethics (my main areas of specialization). They mainly deal with where the church, and the surrounding culture, is heading, and what we can do about it. Salt and light stuff, in other words.
Remember leaders are readers. Part of the way we can make a difference is to have an informed faith. Thus I suggest that all of you consider getting and digesting some – if not all – of the following recent titles (listed alphabetically):
Guinness, Os, Unspeakable: Facing Up To Evil In an Age of Genocide and Terror. Harper, 2005.
The problem of evil and suffering is a perennial problem. This very important issue is addressed by a very important Christian thinker. He adds fresh insights into an age-old problem. Anything by Guinness is worth reading.
McGrath, Alister, The Twilight of Atheism. Doubleday, 2004.
It’s been assumed for some time now that God is well and truly dead. As it turns out, he is alive and well, and it is atheism that is suffering a chronic and fatal disease. McGrath documents the rise and fall of the anti-God movement. McGrath is always an important writer.
Nicholi, Armand, The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life. Free Press, 2002.
One of the most popular courses at Harvest university is the course which this book is based on. Lewis was one of our great, recent Christian apologists, and his thinking and worldview stand in stark contrast to that of Freud. This is a great volume which contrasts the Biblical Christian worldview with the secular humanist.
Sider, Ron, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like The Rest of the World? Baker, 2005.
I am not usually a fan of the religious left, of which Sider is a part. But he is rock-solid here in suggesting that Christians are for the most part living lives not much different from non-Christians. The credibility of the church is at great risk when our morality is not really distinguishable from those who do not profess faith.
Stark, Rodney, For the Glory of God. Princeton University Press, 2003.
Stark is a top-rate sociologist and historian of religion.. He makes no pretence to being religious, but his many books are some of the most penetrating defenses available of religion in general, and Christianity in particular. This volume looks at how Christianity is responsible for the rise of modern science, the end of slavery in the West, and many other achievements of civilization.
Stark, Rodney, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism and Western Success. Random House, 2005.
In his newest volume, Stark argues that “Christianity created Western Civilization”. All the great blessings of the West (freedom, democracy, prosperity) are largely due to the Christian religion. A great defence of the faith from a secular source. Stark has written widely on this topic and his works are always stimulating and challenging.
Weigel, George, The Cube and the Cathedral. Basic Books, 2005.
Europe is in deep crisis. This is largely because it has forgotten (or rejected) its Christian heritage. Secularism in Europe is spelling the death of a once great continent, and the consequences look bleak indeed. A brilliant analysis by a Catholic thinker.
Wells, David, Above All Earthly Powers: Christ in a Postmodern World. Eerdmans, 2005.
Not only is Wells a very astute critic of contemporary culture, but he has the well-being of the church in his sights as well. Thus he has a theologian’s mind and a pastor’s heart as he assesses the mess modern culture – and much of Christianity – is in. This is the latest in a number of vital works by the American writer.
Wright, NT, Evil and the Justice of God. SPCK, 2006.
Another take on the issue of evil, this time from one of our premier New Testament scholars. The insights of his many heavy-weight theological tomes on the mission of Christ and the new Israel are brought to bear here on this important question.
Ye’or, Bat, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005.
The last volume, by a Jewish writer, offers a sobering look at where Europe is headed. Taken together with Weigel’s work, this book makes for grim reading, with the present trends appearing to lead to a totally de-Christianised Europe, and the Islamisation of the continent during this century.
Of course many other books could be mentioned in this list. If you think some other titles should be included, why not post a comment and share your suggestions with our readers.
Also, four of these books (those by Guinness, Nicholi, Weigel, and Wells) have been reviewed by me at length (see the book review section in this website).