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More Recommended Christmas Reading

Nov 25, 2011

OK, it is not quite Christmas yet, but you do need to get presents – for yourself or others. And there is nothing better than getting some good books to give – or to keep – as holiday reading. Here are a number of fairly recent titles than I can heartily recommend.

Every one of them has come out this year, and all are well worth getting and carefully perusing. They deal with various topics, ranging from theology, ethics, apologetics, politics and social issues, to Islam, atheism and homosexuality.

While I have read well over 200 new books this year, it is well worth highlighting at least a tenth of them. Here then are twenty-one new volumes which I am quite happy to endorse:

Wright, NT, Simply Jesus. HarperOne, 2011.
Tom Wright is always worth reading, even if one disagrees with him along the way. This volume continues in what he has been discussing for decades now, and offers a nice introduction to his thoughts about Jesus and his mission. Vintage material from Wright.

Perrin, Nicholas and Richard Hays, eds., Jesus, Paul and the People of God. IVP, 2011.
Speaking of Wright, there is never a shortage of dialogue, debate and controversy surrounding his writings. We find all this here in a collection of essays assessing and critiquing his work, along with responses from Wright. A number of key theologians and New Testament scholars go head to head here with Wright in both agreement and disagreement.

Noll, Mark, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind. Eerdmans, 2011.
For decades now Mark Noll has been encouraging us to love God with our minds, and in his latest offering he makes the case for Christian learning and scholarship. Anti-intellectualism has long been a curse on contemporary Christianity, and Noll calls us to serve Christ in every way, including in the study, the academy, and the classroom.

Leithart, Peter, Athanasius. Baker, 2011.
Hot on the heels of his very important 2010 volume, Defending Constantine, this inaugural volume in the Foundations of Theological Exegesis and Christian Spirituality series is now available. It is a detailed look at the theology and thinking of the great Church Father.

Horton, Michael, For Calvinism. Zondervan, 2011.
This and the next volume make for a nice counterpoint series in which the old debates about the strengths and weaknesses of Calvinism are again thrashed out. Here Horton makes the case for Calvinism, offering detailed biblical, hermeneutical and theological arguments for it.

Olson, Roger, Against Calvinism. Zondervan, 2011.
In this, the other volume in this helpful set, Olson offers the Arminian version of events, criticising the Calvinistic scheme of things, while offering his own preferred theological and hermeneutical alternative. These two volumes nicely lay out the assorted pros and cons concerning Calvinism and I highly recommend both to you.

Stewart, Kenneth, Ten Myths About Calvinism. IVP, 2011.
Since we are discussing Calvinism, I might as well mention this helpful new volume. It discusses a number of commonly-held myths about Calvinism, such as: it is anti-missionary; it leads to theocracy; it opposes the creative arts; it promotes antinomianism; and so on. A good corrective to much sloppy thinking on Calvinism.

Groothuis, Douglas, Christian Apologetics. IVP, 2011.
In well over 700 pages the noted Christian apologist offers a very fine introduction to the major themes and issues in apologetics. He covers all the important material carefully and judiciously. A welcome addition to the ever-growing library of works on philosophy of religion, Christian apologetics, and biblical worldview studies. Highly recommended.

Blanchard, John, Does God Believe in Atheists? EP, 2011.
Although first published in 2000, this very helpful volume has been heavily updated to especially interact with the new atheism. In over 700 pages the popular English apologist covers all the bases as he defends the Christian faith from a range of objections and criticisms. Packed with thousands of references, this is a goldmine of information and solid argumentation.

Image of The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion
The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion by Rodney Stark Amazon logo

Stark, Rodney, The Triumph of Christianity. HarperOne, 2011.
The renowned sociologist of religion here offers yet another important volume, looking at the benefits and advantages of the Christian faith. An enormous amount of historical and sociological detail and insight is presented here as Stark traces the rise and rise of the Christian movement over the past 2000 years.

Bell, James Stuart, ed., From the Library of A.W. Tozer. Bethany House, 2011.
And for some devotional reading, here are some great spiritual gleanings from some of Tozer’s favourite authors. In this collection are nearly 200 excerpts from 36 great Christian preachers and writers, such as Moody, Spurgeon, a Kempis, Bunyan, Calvin, Augustine, Fenelon and Wesley.

Goldman, David, How Civilizations Die. Regnery, 2011.
In this very important new book the issues of religious faith, population trends, and national flourishing or suicide are discussed. Goldman capably demonstrates that when faith wanes, so do nations. The loss of faith in individuals and nations leads to demographic decline and eventual extinction. A very valuable book by a noted economist and commentator.

Goldman, David, It’s Not the End of the World. RVP, 2011.
In this collection of essays Goldman covers many of the themes he addresses in the volume above, plus various other topics, ranging from the arts to economics. Once again we have some excellent and incisive commentary on why civilisations die, and what can be done about it.

Geller, Pamela, Stop the Islamization of America. WND Books, 2011.
Creeping sharia and stealth jihad is occurring all over the West. While this volume focuses on the US, it is of real help to all those concerned about how Western democracy and freedoms are being whittled away. An incisive look at the very real battle we are in.

Sowell, Thomas, The Thomas Sowell Reader. Basic Books, 2011.
I don’t think Thomas Sowell has ever written a bad article or book. This is a collection of some of his many writings on various topics from over the last three decades, ranging from economics to politics, culture, and education. The fact that I own 23 of Sowell’s books tells you how highly I think of him and his writings.

Shapiro, Ben, Primetime Propaganda. Broadside, 2011.
If you wonder why so many of the offerings of contemporary television are so left of centre, here is why. In this thoroughly documented volume Shapiro shows why Hollywood finds it so difficult to offer anything at all in tune with mainstream American values and beliefs. Over a hundred key players were interviewed for this work, so we get to hear directly from those involved. An eye-opening expose.

Stanton, Glenn, The Ring Makes All the Difference. Moody, 2011.
For years now we have known that cohabitation is a poor substitute for marriage, with plenty of research to back this up. In this volume the social science data is nicely brought together, showing that marriage really does matter, and for everyone involved.

Muehlenberg, Bill, Strained Relations: The Challenge of Homosexuality. Freedom Publishing, 2011.
Hey, I’m allowed to plug my own work, am I not? This fully-documented volume examines every aspect of the homosexual debate, including marriage and adoption rights. It also looks at the biblical debates arising from theological revisionists who want to rewrite Scripture to suit their agenda. With over 700 endnotes it covers all the bases in a thorough and comprehensive fashion.

Forthcoming

Finally, three volumes which have either just been released or soon will be. Because of the authors and publisher, I think I can quite safely go out on a limb here and recommend these three volumes in advance:

Beale, G. K., A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. Baker, 2011.
This massive work of nearly 1100 pages is the result of decades of careful scholarship by a leading New Testament professor. He carefully assesses NT theology in the light of the OT, and shows the unfolding drama of a single divine story, culminating in Christ.

Keener, Craig, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. Baker, 2011.
In over 900 pages the prolific NT professor provides us with a comprehensive and detailed examination of the subject of miracles: what are they, how do they occur, objections to them, and miraculous occurrences in the past two millennia. Biblical, theological, philosophical and historical issues are all covered in this sweeping study.

Green, Joel, ed., Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics. Baker, 2011.
This is another sizable (900 pages) theological reference work which is well worth adding to your library (if your budget and book shelves allow). It covers some 500 different topics, all within the interface of ethics and Scripture. A solid and helpful reference work worth getting hold of.

So then, happy reading and Merry Christmas.

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21 Responses to More Recommended Christmas Reading

  • Thanks, Bill, for this great selection of books. I see a “wish list” for our church library.
    Monica Craver

  • Bill. You forgot one! (kidding). But seriously, are you aware of Dr. Jon Zen’/s current contribution to the place and role of women in Christian thought and churches today. It’s groundbreaking. Written from a biblically conservative view its entitled

    ‘What’s Up With Paul & Women? -Unlocking the cultural background to 1 Timothy 2’. (Also covers the 1 Cor. 14:34-36 verses) Ekklesia Press. Nebraska USA

    Endorsed by no less that 17 enthusiastic Christian leaders quoted in the book.

    I do not know of a better book on the subject.

    Graham Wood

  • I’ll be re-reading Dawkins’ The God Delusion and laughing at all you idiots who still believe this long-disproved bronze age nonsense!
    Daniel H. Gladstone

  • Books? You will have to sell your first-born to be able to afford one. I’ll wait till they are at i-Tunes. Good list though.
    Scott Kroeger

  • Thanks Graham. Will have to look into that one.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Daniel

    And a Merry Christmas to you too!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I am just reading for a second time a very challenging new book on end times that has just come out. Written by a young New Zealander Dalton Lifsey.
    “The Controversy of Zion and the Time of Jacobs Trouble”. Available online at fishpond 300 pages, well footnoted, around $20 including postage.
    An outstanding effort to challenge us all, with extra insight from Charles Spurgeon, Bishop Ryle, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Horatio Bonar, David Baron, S P Tregelles and Reggie Kelly.

    Rob Withall

  • “The Holy Spirit is not for sale” by Lee Grady is worthwhile – written by an insider who loves the Charasmatic movement.
    Andrew Robinson

  • Thanks Andrew

    Yes it is a very good book indeed. I reviewed it here:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/07/02/a-review-of-the-holy-spirit-is-not-for-sale-by-j-lee-grady/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • A season of intolerance, bigotry, stupid science and moral impoverishment – ahh the TRUE meaning of christmas.
    Adam Wind

  • Thanks Adam

    The real spirit of Christmas is a God who loves us so deeply and thoroughly that he says of us, “You’re to die for”.
    The real spirit of atheism is so very nicely encapsulated in your comments and Daniel’s comments.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Bill – will keep us all busy for next year!

    And yes, you are allowed to plug your own book … people should probably buy their pastors a copy to help equip them.

    I’d add Nancy Pearcey and Chuck Colson as ‘must have’ authors.

    Peter Jackel

  • Thanks Peter

    Yes Percey and Colson are always worth reading. And yes all pastors might benefit from my book, while some pastors certainly need to read my book.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Andrew Robinson and Bill. Actually Bill, I read your review on The Holy Spirit is Not For Sale quite recently. Yes, I think I will buy that one … the book, that is.

    Annette Nestor

  • I’m part-way through David Brooks’ The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement (2011). Its a fascinating read. Nice rebuff to both the materialist and Cartesian conceptions of the human make-up but still scientifically informed.

    May not be everyone’s cup of tea but it will challenge your thinking on emotions, inter-personal connections and the unconscious.

    Damien Spillane

  • I will be staring David Goldmans ‘How Civilizations Die’ either today or tomorrow.
    Carl Strehlow

  • Bill, thanks for keeping the wicket for us, thanks for the batting, bowling, and fielding. It is easy to see that old saying from my childhood “it is not cricket” applies to the enemies of ‘truth and reason’. Keep on keeping on for us.
    Stan Fishley

  • To Daniel H. Gladstone
    Are you in fact an atheist or just a lazy agnostic?

    Why bother wasting your time re-reading Dawkins if you already have your mind made up. Instead, why not read “God, Actually” by Roy Williams (No relation) to find out how a thinking person came to believe God Actually does exist.

    Then make up your own mind.

    David Williams

  • I’ve just watched an 8 minute video on How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A5HT_vVHO4&feature=related
    I will definitely add this book to my growing list of books to buy! It seems like beneficial reading for all Christians. I did notice that you recommended it in another of your articles.

    Apart from the Bible and commentaries, if a Christian only ever read 5 books in their lifetime, what would you recommend (besides a book on the benefits of reading books)?

    Annette Nestor

  • Thanks Annette

    That’s a great quetion but a tough question, because there are so many to choose from. To even attempt to do this, I would probably have to break it down by category, eg., devotionals, biographies, theological works, history, fiction, and so one.

    I may have to write an article on this. Indeed, I have thought of this often, but for the reason I give, it is a tough one.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • How funny that your two critics in these comments have such biblical first names 🙂

    Mario Del Giudice

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