Jesus Creed Books of the Year 2019

Jesus Creed Books of the Year 2019 December 9, 2019

For a long time I have posted Books of the Year and have chosen The book of the year each year, but I can’t do that this year so I’m going to present to you my Books of the Year in a few categories, including the “Disappointment Book of the Year.” RJS offers her Science Books of the Year and Dave Moore his Interview of the Year. Finally, I give my favorite novel of the year. Each of these is #ad.

As with other Books of the Year lists, these are books sent my way or purchased by me. I make no claim to having seen all the best books.

Jesus Creed Books of the Year

Patrick Mitchel, The Message of Love. In one of my favorite series, The Bible Speaks Today, this book is a Bible-based theology of love that focuses on the major thematic Bible sections about love. If I have to choose one, this is it! I can’t imagine this not becoming a standard text for at least a series of a dozen sermons on love. It is biblical, it is theological, it is alert to how love is understood in our world, and it provides solid expositions of texts.

Andrew Bartlett, Men and Women in Christ. I have blogged through this book: it is cautious, it is clear, it is compelling. Most of all, it is fair minded. Every pastor, every elder board, every deacon board — anyone needing to sort through this topic must read this book.

Craig Keener, Christobiography: Memory, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels. The best academic book of the year, and by that I mean a book for professors and scholars. Yes, typical Keener; yes, very important. This should put to rest whether or not the Gospels are bio-graphical and whether that means they are then concerned with adequate representations of history.

Rachael Denhollander, What Is a Girl Worth?, could be seen as the heroic or courageous book of the year. A full statement of her experience with a sexual predator, a comprehensive explanation of the events, and it comes with strong words for church leaders to become more vigilant.

Miroslav Volf and Matthew Croasmun, For the Life of the World, another book I blogged through: a great reminder of what theology is for — life — and not just for intellectual stimulation. Here is a blueprint for theologians to follow and to use as a plan for their own theologizing and teaching.

Disappointing Book of the Year

David Bentley Hart, That All Shall Be Saved. If you are going to take on the whole world of Christian theology, or at least the vast majority, it will require civility to be convincing. This book lacked it. More importantly, the God he despises — a God of wrath, a God who establishes a hell of consciousness — is more like Hart’s own tone than the God he sketches, a God of love and endless mercy and compassion. Had Hart written with the tone of the God he supposedly believes in, this book might have been more credible.

Reference Book of the Year

Barry J. Beitzel, Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation. There’s just nothing like this: a commentary on the geography locations in the New Testament. Written by solid scholars, illustrated abundantly with maps and pictures, with excellent bibliographies. Excellence abounds.

Science and Faith (RJS)

This was a relatively light year for books in the category of Science and Christian faith. At the top of the list, a comprehensive and readable textbook by five  professors at Wheaton College.  Understanding Scientific Theories of Origins. Their collected expertise ranges from Physics to Old Testament: Robert Bishop is professor of physics and philosophy, Larry Funck is a chemist (now retired), Raymond Lewis is a biologist, Stephen Moshier a geologist, and John Walton, an Old Testament specialist. The book developed out of a course they have taught together for many years.

A couple of other books – not technically science, but in the related area of biblical interpretation.

Craig Allert: Early Christian Readings of Genesis One: Patristic Exegesis and Literal Interpretation

Walter Moberly: The Bible in a Disenchanted Age: The Enduring Possibility of Christian Faith

And one book on Christian faith more broadly.

Rebecca McLaughlin: Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion. While few will agree with her perspective on all of these questions, she has certainly raised the most significant questions in our secular Western culture and provides valuable insight and food for thought.

Dave Moore’s Interview Book of the Year

James K.A. Smith, On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts. Smith has a good nose for the telling quote or captivating illustration.  HIs wide reading across various disciplines showcases the brilliance of Augustine.

Honorable Mention

Frank Honeycutt, Sunday Comes Every Week.

Lucy Peppiatt, Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women.

Jemar Tisby, Color of Compromise.

Ben Witherington, Biblical Theology: The Convergence of the Canon

NT Wright and Michael Bird, The New Testament in Its World.

Novel of the Year

Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Thanks for these Scot! Every year several books that you mention always end up on my list for the upcoming year and I’ve already added a couple of these to next year’s reading list.

    I do disagree about Hart’s book though. His tone does leave a lot to be desired and I can certainly see your point that it should match the kind of God that he advocates for. I did find myself literally laughing out loud at times at statements that felt overboard and absurd. But, tone aside, I found it to be a great book to wrestle through his arguments and have had several semi-reading groups with people who have wanted to go through it. He is giving Christian Universalism a hearing in some circles that hadn’t engaged in it outside of Bell’s book several years ago.

  • Bob Wilson

    Your input on books is regular gold. And I know Hart’s caustic “tone” is a deal breaker, especially if one’s convinced world view paradigm is of a God who will fall profoundly short of effectively redeeming most of his own offspring. It’s then hard to see how those of us convinced that God’s love and power is able to ultimately win a far great victory, can resonate with Hart’s ‘uncivil’ moral incredulity.

    I prefer Robin Parry’s gracious approach, but it’s hard for us not to insensitively express the contrast in an offensive way. I’ve read many reviews offended by Hart’s harshness and his conclusions that contradict the dominant eschatology many believe is clear. I only wish his actual arguments received evaluation apart from his strident tone.

  • John C Holbert

    You can find no better novel than one nearly 100 years old? Astonishing! And far from father’s best to boot.

  • scotmcknight

    This year, partner, this year. Ones I read this year. I spent the whole year for my novel reading in Willa Cather. This is one of her best, so I think and I’ve read all but her first small novel(la).

  • Robert Limb

    Craig Keener is phenomenal. He can write faster than I can read.

  • sometypeofguy

    Parry is a gem.