I’m glad you asked. OK, so you didn’t ask, but a few of you might have been thinking that! I know that a small percentage of my readers absolutely love these sorts of articles. Alas, the great bulk of you seem to ignore them, if not dislike them! Admittedly, they certainly do not receive much attention, generate many comments, or result in many shares.
But for the handful of you who do look forward to learning about the latest mountain of books I am ploughing through, this piece is for you! As my wife can attest, the coffee table that I seek to keep clear is usually covered with piles of books.
A while back a massive reading binge saw the table completely cleared. But that did not last very long, and I again have 40 or 50 volumes accumulated there. As the saying goes, so many books, so little time. And for every book read another new purchase is likely – at least in my household.
This batch of books all happen to be Christian books, dealing with things like theology, biblical studies, apologetics, church history, biography, and eschatology. They are either new books just recently bought, or somewhat older books that I recently acquired.
I arrange them here simply by author, alphabetically. Here then are 23 books I happen to be reading and enjoying at the moment, and I trust that you may find some of them of interest as well:
Gregg Allison, 50 Core truths of the Christian Faith. Baker, 2018.
In some 400 pages the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary theologian explores the basic Christian doctrines. Although laid out in a popular style format, this really is a full-blown systematic theology, covering all the key biblical truths. A solid yet easy to follow work.
Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the New Testament. B&H, 2016.
Blomberg is a key New Testament scholar who has already penned important books on the reliability of the synoptic gospels, and of John’s gospel. Now he tackles the entire NT. In nearly 800 pages he offers us a very valuable work with an apologetics edge, dealing with many questions and concerns about the NT. An invaluable reference work.
Melvyn Bragg, William Tyndale. SPCK, 2017.
If you are looking for a recent and brief biography of this important reformer, pastor, Bible translator and martyr, this book is for you. In just a hundred pages we learn much about this man, his work, and his legacy, chief of which being his translation into English of the New Testament and much of the Old Testament.
Robert Caldwell, Theologies of the American Revivalists. IVP, 2017.
I find it quite intriguing that God can get his job done, using all sorts of people with all sorts of differing theologies. In the First and Second Great Awakenings in America all sorts of people were used, from the Calvinistic Whitefield and Edwards to the Arminian Finney. Caldwell, a church history professor, carefully examines what these revivalists taught and thought about keys issues like sin, conversion, free will, the Holy Spirit, and the marks of salvation. An excellent work.
Kenneth Collins and Jerry Walls, Roman but Not Catholic. Baker, 2017.
This is a very good, very thorough and very detailed assessment of Roman Catholicism by two authorities who can hardly be called Catholic-bashers (one was raised a Catholic). They make it clear that they believe Catholics to be full members of the body of Christ, but they look at many core teachings, such as the role of the Pope, Mary, the doctrine of justification, the nature of the church, and conclude that evangelical Protestantism is the truest expression of biblical faith. This gracious, irenic and scholarly discussion is first class, and even if you disagree with their theological orientation, you will find much of value here.
Gordon Fee, Jesus the Lord According To Paul the Apostle. Baker, 2018.
Fee is also one of our leading NT scholars. Back in 2007 he penned his invaluable Pauline Christology. The 700 pages of that volume have been reworked and narrowed down to a more manageable 200 pages, giving us the gist of all that Paul had to say about Jesus. As always, excellent work.
Nathan Finn and Jeremy Kimble, eds., A Reader’s Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards. Crossway, 2017.
Without question Edwards was America’s most important theologian and philosopher, who was also a pastor and a revivalist. This collection of essays about his life, his work, and his thought, is outstanding. A number of experts look at various facets of the man and his ministry, including his writings on theology, revival, and the Christian life.
Michael Kruger, Christianity at the Crossroads. IVP, 2018.
The period immediately following on from the New Testament story of the birth of the church can be a bit cloudy and confusing for many Christians. Just what happened then, and how did the church take off? Christian thought and practice were strongly formed during this period. As he puts it in his subtitle, “How the Second Century Shaped the Future of the Church.” This is a very helpful look at second century Christianity from the respected New Testament professor at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Larry Hurtado, Destroyer of the Gods. Baker, 2016.
The veteran NT scholar from Edinburgh offers us a compelling explanation of the distinctiveness of early Christianity and why it thrived, despite so many obstacles and so much opposition. The early faith stood in marked contrast to the cultural, political and philosophical setting of the Roman world.
J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth. Baker, 2014.
As the subtitle indicates, this book is about “Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology”. Christians too often have a rather fuzzy notion of what is to come, biblically speaking. We have notions of floating around on clouds strumming a harp, etc. But a new earth is part of the next world we will be living in. A welcome, holistic look at salvation in its fullest sense.
R. Albert Mohler, The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down. Thomas Nelson, 2018.
In this brief volume the veteran evangelical leader offers us a detailed and incisive look at the Lord’s Prayer. He provides a devotional, theological and practical guide to the prayer, offering us plenty of help along the way to both appreciate and live out this key prayer of Jesus.
Abdu Murray, Grand Central Question. IVP, 2014.
Murray is a somewhat newish and youngish Christian apologist who is making quite a name for himself. Here he looks at a number of the key issues raised by the major worldviews. He looks at such things as the nature of truth, the problem of suffering, and the nature and significance of personhood. Islam, pantheism and secular humanism are among the main worldviews that he interacts with.
Abdu Murray, Saving Truth. Zondervan, 2018.
In his newest book the North American director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries looks at our post-truth culture. He lays out the damaging consequences of this, and shows Christians how to not only defend truth but to live truth in such a hostile environment. His books are always worth reading.
Iain Murray, Evangelical Holiness. Banner of Truth, 2013.
Murray has served as an assistant to Martyn Lloyd-Jones in London, and has authored numerous volumes, including biographies on Lloyd-Jones. Here we have various addresses of his on topics like holiness, apostasy, attacks on Scripture, and the role of controversy. Inspiring stuff.
Olson, Roger, Arminian Theology. IVP, 2006. Olson is an Arminian and I am not. But he is a very fair and careful theologian who seeks to accurately explain and present what Arminians actually believe, along with interaction from non-Arminian points of view. Some hard-core Calvinists may well beg to differ, but this is a gracious, irenic and helpful defence and elaboration of basic Arminian beliefs.
John Piper, 21 Servants of Sovereign Joy. Crossway, 2018.
In over 800 pages the lives of 21 great men of God from past and present are looked at in some detail. They include: Augustine, Athanasius, Luther, Calvin, Bunyan, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Wilberforce and Lewis. This is both an academic as well as a devotional volume that will be of use to all believers.
Paul Schlehlein, John G. Paton. Banner of Truth, 2017.
One of the earliest books I read as a new Christian was a large, old hardback autobiography about this amazing missionary to the South Sea Islands. I never forgot the incredible tales of commitment and devotion to reaching the lost in the face of so much suffering and so many trials. This new biography of just under 200 pages is a welcome addition to works about this missionary to the cannibals.
Andrew Schmutzer and David Howard, eds., The Psalms. Moody, 2013.
In this important work 18 experts – most of them OT scholars – such as Walt Kaiser, Bruce Waltke, Tremper Longman, Allen Ross and John Piper look at numerous aspects of the Psalms. Historical and theological considerations are found here, as well as application and preaching helps. A great collection of essays to help bring alive the Psalms.
Peter Stanford, Martin Luther: Catholic Dissident. Hodder & Stoughton, 2017.
I found this to be rather interesting and helpful. Stanford happens to be a Catholic, but he actually believes that there was a real need for people like Luther to come along and help correct the things that needed correction, adjustment or redirection. He believes that the Catholic church is better today for someone like Luther and his reformist passions.
Harry Stout, ed., The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia. Eerdmans, 2017.
OK, I confess, this is the one book here I do not yet own – but hey, it is expensive (Koorong has it for $80). But I am weak, and the temptation will soon enough overtake me and I will grab a copy. Well over 100 experts contribute to this massive work (650 pages), offering us everything we need to know about the man, his work, his writings and his ideas.
Mark Strauss, Jesus Behaving Badly. IVP, 2015.
The New Testament specialist offers us a popular-level look at the real Jesus, not the Jesus of political correctness and liberal theology. He examines a number of fuzzy notions about who Jesus was, including: Was he a pacifist? Was he chauvinistic? Was he racist? Was he a mere moralist? Was he sexist? These and other common notions about Jesus are carefully examined. A helpful volume.
Ralph Wood, Chesterton: The Nightmare Goodness of God. Baylor University Press, 2011.
Anything by or about Chesterton will always get my attention. Wood, a professor of theology and literature, does an excellent job analysing and assessing the work of Chesterton on a number of fronts. Chesterton “makes his deepest affirmation about God and man and the world in the face of nightmarish unbelief.” He discusses many of his key works and examines topics such as tyrannical tolerance, the West and Islam, eugenics, and the nature of civilisation and democracy. Wood knows his topic and is a joy to read.
Paul Williamson, Death and the Afterlife. Apollos/IVP, 2017.
For those who know a bit about such matters, the Bible actually says relatively little about the intermediate state (what happens between death and the resurrection), and the material that is there can be somewhat ambiguous or uncertain. Williamson, an OT lecturer at Moore College in Sydney offers us a very good overview and assessment of these matters, as well as the final state of heaven and hell.
Hopefully some of these volumes will whet your appetite. Happy reading and happy learning.