These 17 new books are all well worth being aware of:
If you are a Christian, like to think, and like to read, then you have come to the right place! If not, well, look away now. Like other articles in this irregular series, I offer books that are of course in line with my own particular tastes. Thus books on theology, ethics, church history, the culture wars, apologetics and the like are mainly what you will find here.
Why 17 books? Well, I had to stop somewhere! There is a never-ending stream of new books coming off the presses, and I try to keep up with some of the better ones. Many more could have been added here, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Further additions to this series will keep you abreast of even more helpful new titles.
Breimaier, Thomas, Tethered to the Cross. IVP, 2020.
While many excellent biographies of Charles Spurgeon are available, this newest one, with an emphasis on his preaching, is a welcome addition to the CHS corpus. This very well researched and written study of Spurgeon reminds us of what an exceedingly important figure Spurgeon was, not just in England but in so much of the world. Highly recommended.
Bruno, Chris, Jared Compton and Kevin McFadden, Biblical Theology According to the Apostles. IVP, 2020.
This is one of the newest volumes in the first-class series edited by D. A. Carson, New Studies in Biblical Theology. The area of biblical theology has taken off in recent years, and this is a welcome addition to it. The authors look at how the Old Testament writers develop the story of Israel in terms of the overall biblical metanarrative.
Chase, Mitchell, 40 Questions About Typology and Allegory. Kregel, 2020.
Any student of Scripture who wants to properly interpret the word of God needs to know about typology and allegory. The 40 questions and answers devoted to this topic in this book of some 300 pages is just what is needed for the job. Both biblical and historical aspects are covered in great detail. This book is another excellent addition to the 40 Questions About… series.
Clark, Kelly James, God and the Brain: The Rationality of Belief. Eerdmans, 2019.
New advances in the study of the brain and related fields have often been used by critics of Christianity to tell us that theism is false, that supernaturalism is bunk, and only matter matters. While many in the neurosciences may run with such views, many do not, and the need to separate science from scientism is essential here. The Christian philosopher and apologist does a good job of laying out the issues, and showing us that the naturalistic conclusions so often being pushed do not follow from the science.
Davis, Stephen and Eric Yang, An Introduction to Christian Philosophical Theology. Zondervan, 2020.
There has always been a close intersection between the philosophy of religion and theology. Big philosophical questions about the existence of God, the nature of reality, and the problems of humanity are of course the stuff of biblical theology. The authors give us a helpful introduction and overview of how philosophy can help theology, and vice versa.
Dreher, Rod, Live Not By Lies. Sentinel, 2020.
I have already written a number of articles quoting from, and singing the praises of, this book. If you buy only one volume out of the seventeen listed here, get this one. It is must reading. Dreher offers us a sober assessment of the increasing persecution of the faith in the West, coupled with a new totalitarianism descending upon us. It is a vital wakeup call. See my review of this important book here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2020/12/30/a-review-of-live-not-by-lies-by-rod-dreher/
D’Souza Gill, Danielle, The Choice: The Abortion Divide in America. Center Street, 2020.
Even those who have long been in the pro-life movement and are familiar with the various arguments pro and con will benefit from this new volume. She has an advisory role in the Trump campaign, and has appeared in various media outlets. In this volume all the usual objections raised by the pro-abortion side are carefully and wisely rebutted. A welcome addition to the prolife arsenal.
Fesko, J. V., The Need for Creeds Today. Baker, 2020.
There is no question that perhaps most Christians today have little interest in theology and church history. As such, they would of course have little interest in the various church creeds that have been developed over the centuries. Fesko, a theology and church history prof, does a good job of reminding us why we have the creeds and why they are so important. A slim but quite useful volume.
Longman, Tremper, Confronting Old Testament Controversies. Baker, 2019.
Four broad subjects are discussed in some detail in this helpful volume by the veteran Old Testament scholar. Some folks may differ on some matters (especially his first section) but we can all learn from him. The four issues are: creation and evolution; the exodus and conquest; violence in the Old Testament; and homosexuality. Thankfully – for conservatives at least – he is quite strong (i.e., biblical) on that fourth contentious item.
Osborne, William, Divine Blessing. Crossway, 2020.
This is one of a number of volumes in the new series, Short Studies in Biblical Theology. Although brief (150 pages) it provides us with a helpful understanding of what the concept of God’s blessings means in both Testaments, and for believers today. These blessings are not just spiritual in nature, but relational and often physical. A useful and edifying study.
Shortt, Rupert, Outgrowing Dawkins. SPCK, 2019.
In 2019 Richard Dawkins came out with another book attacking religion: Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide to Atheism. It of course follows on from his popular 2006 book, The God Delusion. Both books were mainly an assault on Christianity. Here the English writer offers a useful critique of Dawkins and his angry atheism, showing how he far too often misses the mark, distorts things, sets up straw men, and offers rather useless caricatures of his religious foes. A good but brief defence of Christianity and critique of Dawkins and secularism.
Smith, Gordon, Wisdom from Babylon. IVP, 2020.
As society becomes increasingly secular and hostile to the Christian faith, how should believers live, and how should the church respond? We can learn a lot from ancient Israel and its years of being exiled in Babylon. Smith looks at different church responses to the issue of secularism, plotting a course in which believers can engage with their culture and still make a difference.
Sproul, R. C., Luke: An Expository Commentary. P&R, 2020.
If you like the gospels, expository preaching, and R. C. Sproul, then I have good news for you. Over the years he did a sermon series on each of the four gospels, and the newest one (700 pages on Luke) has just been released, posthumously. While Sproul died in 2017, his ministry lives on in his many books and recorded lectures and messages.
Strachen, Owen and Gavin Peacock, What Does the Bible Teach About Transgenderism? Christian Focus, 2020.
This is an excellent book dealing with the transgender tsunami. It is excellent because it is so solidly biblical and faithful to basic Christian teachings on what it is to be a person, on human sexuality, and the like. There is no political correctness here nor a desire to compromise and water things down. Yes, the authors are pastoral and sensitive, but not at the risk of biblical truth.
Tripp, Paul David, Lead. Crossway, 2020.
This is a new book about leadership, from a noted pastor and authority in the field. In it he lays out 12 biblical and practical principles which will be of great help to anyone in Christian ministry. If Dreher is my most recommended volume in this list, Lead may be my second. Indeed, I have already featured it in several recent articles, eg: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2020/12/27/christian-leadership-sin-and-restoration/
Trueman, Carl, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. Crossway, 2020.
In this important 400-page work, the famed Christian historian looks at the modern sexual meltdown of the West through the lens of the past few centuries in which our basic understandings of personhood, identity and self have been radically upended. He demonstrates convincingly how the modern sexual revolution is a direct product of the philosophies and ideologies of the Enlightenment, with figures like Rousseau, Marx, Freud and Darwin having much to answer for. I hope to have a proper review of this very significant work appearing soon.
Wright, N. T., Broken Signposts. HarperOne, 2020.
The subtitle of this popular level volume by the New Testament scholar is “How Christianity Makes Sense of the World”. It is a follow-up to his 2005 book, Simply Christian. In that earlier volume he looked at four key themes: justice, spirituality, relationships, and beauty. Here he adds three more to the list: freedom, truth, and power. He looks at these seven broken signposts to who God is and what he is like by means of the gospel of John. Insightful reading as always.
(Australians will find most of these books at Koorong.)