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.
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.
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