Book Reviews

According to Plan. By Graeme Goldsworthy (Review | Product Info). An introduction to the art and science of “biblical theology”, which is just another way of saying “a responsible way to read the whole Bible as one story about Jesus.”  If you’ve heard the accusation that the Bible is incoherent and contradictory, then you need to wrestle with a book like this.  Highly recommended for beginning theology students and those aspiring to understand the Bible.  Apart from the Bible, I’ve read and used this book more than any other.

Against Christianity. By Peter Leithart (Review | Product Info).  Biblical and theological musings criticizing modern Christianity from a perspective longing for a return to Christendom.

An Anxious Age. By Joseph Bottum (Review | Product Info).  Sociological study by a conservative Roman Catholic.  Argues the collapse of the Protestant Mainline denominations contributed significantly to our current American problems.

Ancient Christian Devotional – A. Edited by Thomas Oden (Review | Product Info).  Devotional utilizing the words of many Church Fathers.  Follows the revised common lectionary.

Apologetics in the New Age. By David Clark & Norman Geisler (Review | Product Info).  Defense of Christianity and critique of New Age beliefs.

Archaeological Study Bible. Edited by Walter Kaiser & Duane Garrett (Review | Product Info). A Study Bible emphasizing history and archaeology.

Back to Basics. Edited by David Hagopian (Review | Product Info).  Introduction to the Christian faith from the Reformed tradition.

The Benedict Option. By Rod Dreher (Review | Product Info). As the subtitle says, “a strategy for Christians in a post-Christian nation.”  If that resonates with you, then this book is absolutely a must-read.  If not so much, then you need to read it to walk in the shoes of conservative Christians–for the sake of empathy and mutual understanding.

The Bible and Its Influence. By the Bible Literacy Project (Review | Product Info).  Introduction to the Bible and its influence upon Western civilization.  Secular high school textbook.

Bible Overview. By Steve Levy (Review | Product Info). A very readable and enjoyable overview of the Bible.  Explains the Bible by recounting the biblical story line.  Puts forward the idea that Jesus is the interpretive key to the whole Bible.  This is not a new idea, but it will be new to some.  Highly recommended for getting right the main point of the Bible.

Biblical Hermeneutics: Five Views. Edited by Stanley Porter (Review | Product Info).  Various viewpoints, compared and contrasted, on how to best interpret the Bible.  Technical.

Billy Graham: His Life and Influence. By David Aikman (Review | Product Info). A great biographical introduction to the 20th century American evangelist. Written by an award winning journalist who evaluates the life and influence of Billy Graham from his unique perspective.

Blue Like Jazz. By Donald Miller (Review | Product Info). A fun and artsy memoir of a man who tries to make sense of his Christian faith in the postmodern world in language that is both accessible and apologetic.  Worth reading with a healthy dose of theological discernment.

Bonhoeffer. By Eric Metaxas (Review | Product Info). Biography of the famous martyr from WWII Germany.  Bonhoeffer may have been more evangelical in his theology and practice than he’s been portrayed.

The Book of Kells. By Bernard Meehan (Review | Product Info). A definitive illustrated introduction to the famous Irish medieval masterpiece known simply as The Book of Kells.  Some have described the original as a book produced by angels.  Meehan’s introduction explains why.  A good place to start for Christian/Art history buffs.

The Call. By Os Guinness (Review | Product Info).  What is life really all about?  A good book for those at one of life’s crossroads.

Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport. By Richard Mouw (Review | Product Info).  Reformed theology meets the street.

A Canticle for Leibowitz. By Walter Miller (Review | Product Info). Apocalyptic dystopian novel that is widely recognized as a 20th century science fiction classic.  A very “Catholic” book, but religious and secular people will learn much from its arresting story.  Although they will surely respond to it very differently!  If you’re not Roman Catholic that is no excuse to dismiss this one.

The Case for a Creator. By Lee Strobel (Review | Product Info). A popular level overview of an alternative theory of origins (of the universe and biological life).  Argues for a specific theory of creationism called Intelligent Design (ID).  Strobel is a trained journalist, a former atheist, and converted Christian who years ago investigated the Christian truth claims, including in the realm of science.  Strobel’s book and my review attracted ridicule and dismissal in the comment section.  Ideological warfare in my corner of the blogosphere!

The Case for the Real Jesus. By Lee Strobel (Review | Product Info).  Addresses challenges to the Bible and Christianity that have become prominent in the 21st century.  Responds to Bart Ehrman, Dan Brown, and other critics.  Strobel is a journalist by training who is a popular evangelical apologist.  Reads more like journalism that apologetics, but you get both.

Celebration of Discipline. By Richard Foster (Review | Product Info).  Spiritual theology.  Explores the spiritual disciplines from the Anabaptist tradition.  A modern day classic.

Children and the Lord’s Supper. Edited by Guy Waters & Ligon Duncan (Review | Product Info).  Biblical, theological, and historical study that argues children should make a profession of faith prior to admittance to the sacrament.

Church Discipline. By Jonathan Leeman. (Review | Product Info).  Readable introduction to a very touchy subject.

Church History in Plain Language. By Bruce Shelley (Review | Product Info).  Not a history of theology, but a history of people, places, and events.  Lots of stories.  A modern day classic.

Church Planter. By Darrin Patrick (Review | Product Info).  The who, what, why, how, and where of planting a church, written by a church planting leader.

Churches Partnering Together. By Chris Bruno & Matt Dirks (Review | Product Info).  The case for reaching out to your church neighbor for the sake of working together on a particular ministry goal.  Practical how-to tips and pitfalls to avoid.

The Christ of the Covenants. By O. Palmer Robertson (Review | Product Info).  Introduction to covenant theology from a Presbyterian and Reformed perspective.  Standard seminary textbook.  A modern day classic.

The Christian Almanac. By George Grant & Gregory Wilbur (Review | Product Info).  One-year devotional.  History but not just Christian History.  Heavy on American history.  Lots of “almanac” features, facts, etc.

Classical Apologetics. By R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner & Art Lindsley (Review | Product Info).  Defense of the Christian faith from the classical perspective.  Includes a critique of presuppositional/transcendental apologetics.

Crazy Busy. By Kevin DeYoung (Review | Product Info).  Life today is more busy than ever.  Why and what can we do about it.

Creating a Missional Culture. By J.R. Woodward (Review | Product Info).  Theory meets practice for a church planter in the Emerging Church tradition.

C.S. Lewis: A Life.  By Alister McGrath (Review | Product Info).  A biography of the incomparable author of popular books in the genres of Christian apologetics, adult and children’s fiction, devotionals, and even scholarly medieval English literary analysis.  This biography gets into Lewis’s mind and heart through a close reading of his published letters and diary.

Darwin on Trial. By Phillip E. Johnson (Review | Product Info). Launched the Intelligent Design movement that has become the primary scientific rival to neo-Darwinian evolution.

Darwin’s Doubt. By Stephen C. Meyer (Review | Product Info).  A thorough case for the Intelligent Design theory of origins.  Written on an upper college level.  Examines the evidence from the Cambrian era fossil record and the complex DNA code of animals.

Deep Exegesis. By Peter Leithart (Review | Product Info).  Reading, interpreting, and preaching the Bible from a perspective informed by classical literature, biblical theology, historical theology, and literary criticism.

Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. By Phillip R. Johnson (Review | Product Info). A primer for upper high school students and beyond on the problems with Neo-Darwinism, the only scientific alternative of Intelligent Design, and how to navigate the debate in our culture, particularly in school.

The Devoted Life. Edited by Kelly Kapic & Randall Gleason (Review | Product Info).  Friendly introduction to the Puritans and their most influential books.  Best place to learn where to begin reading the Puritans.

Dynamics of Spiritual Life. By Richard Lovelace (Review | Product Info).  A Christian theologian and historian analyzes the necessary ingredient of spiritual revival.  A genre of its own.  May become a modern day classic.

Economics for Everybody. By R.C. Sproul Jr (Review | Product Info).  Video teaching series introducing young people to the basics of economics.

enGendered. By Sam Andreades (Review | Product Info). Explores the biblical doctrine of gender, concluding gender is God’s gift to human beings for relational intimacy in asymmetrical relationships. This one is ground-breaking.

ESV Literary Study Bible. Edited by Leland Ryken & Philip Ryken (Review | Product Info).  A reader’s Bible that introduces chapter-length sections with insights gleaned from literary criticism.  Broadly Reformed perspective.

ESV Study Bible. Edited by Wayne Grudem (Review | Product Info).  A massive (and massively important) Study Bible in the tradition of historic evangelical orthodoxy.  Its supplementary features make this a must-have for Christians, skeptics, and the spiritually curious.

Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace (Review | Product Info).  Seeks to awaken the American church to the need for a more biblical faithful evangelism.  The author says the way forward is a covenantal understanding of evangelism in which doing justice and preaching grace are married to each other.  Foundational to the missional conversation.  A manifesto both brief and helpful, theoretical and practical.

Every Good Endeavor. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info).  Argues that our vocation matters to God.  Seeks to remove the sharp secular/sacred distinction that tends to control our view of work.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God, but were afraid to ask. By Eric Metaxas (Review | Product Info).  Snarky apologetics for young people.  Evangelical and Arminian perspective.

Exalting Christ in Ephesians. By Tony Merida (Review | Product Info). An expositional commentary in the broadly reformed evangelical tradition.  Excellent for personal or group study.  Chapters on Ephesians 4-6 are especially engaging, helpful, and relevant.

The Explicit Gospel. By Matt Chandler (Review | Product Info).  Combines the gospel metanarrative with the way many share the gospel in systematic categories (God, Man, Christ, Faith).  Shows how we need both to grasp the whole gospel.

Fahrenheit 451. By Ray Bradbury (Review | Product Info). Classic dystopian novel from the 1950s and set in the distant future.  Except its vision of the future doesn’t seem so distant anymore.  Abounding Christian imagery skillfully employed by an unbelieving author.

Faith in the Face of Apostasy. By Raymond Dillard (Review | Product Info).  Expositional commentary on the biblical narratives of the OT prophets Elijah and Elisha.  Practical.

The Fellowship of the Ring. By J.R.R. Tolkien (Review | Product Info).  Book 1 of 3 of the epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings.  Whether you read the books before seeing the movies or not, don’t miss the books.  Immerse yourself in the fantasy world of Middle Earth–and place that operates on much of the Christian worldview–and get caught up in the adventure to destroy the ring that threatens to undo the goodness inherent in the world.  Feeds the imagination in a healthy, uplifting way.

Five Views on Law and Gospel. Edited by Stanley Gundrey (Review | Product Info).  Debate between various perspectives on how biblical law and gospel relate to each other.  Technical.

Fool’s Talk. By Os Guinness (Review | Product Info). An attempt to marry apologetics and evangelism with biblical roles in order to effectively address our post-modern culture.  Want to think carefully and deeply about why the people in your social circles don’t care about Christianity and don’t care to know?  This book will give you answers and broader your understanding for what to do about it.

Four Views of Youth Ministry and the Church. Edited by Mark Senter (Review | Product Info).  Debate between various schools of thought for doing youth ministry.  All four views fit on a quadrant grid and overlap to some degree.  Theoretical with practical aspects.

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info).  A popular sermon put into print for a wider readership.  The key to your view of self is not thinking more of yourself, or thinking less of yourself, but through the gospel you think of yourself less.

From Eden to the New Jerusalem. By T. Desmond Alexander (Review | Product Info).  Redemptive historical study of the major biblical theological themes of Scripture.  A major payoff for a small book.  Technical.

Generous Justice. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info). An impassioned plea and reasoned case for Christian involvement in mercy ministry and social justice.  Grounded in the Bible and the gospel, not in Christian ethics like the old “social gospel” movement.

Genesis 1-4. By C. John Collins (Review | Product Info).  Commentary on the first 4 chapters of the Bible.  Shows how our reading of these chapters shapes our understanding of the rest of the Bible.  Sensitive to literary analysis.

Gilead. By Marilynne Robinson (Review | Product Info).  A beautifully written novel about the spiritual battles that characterize the relationship between fathers and sons.  The author is a Christian who employs biblical imagery without hitting the reader over the head with it.  It won the Pulitzer Prize, and deservedly so.

Giving Up Gimmicks. By Brian Cosby (Review | Product Info). Argues for making youth ministry less about fun and more about discipleship.  Challenges the paradigms of youth ministry as glorified babysitting or ghettoized subculture.

The Gospel as Center. Edited by D.A. Carson & Tim Keller (Review | Product Info).  What it means for the gospel to be at the center of a person’s belief system and in the life of the church.  In many ways a commentary on the founding documents of The Gospel Coalition.

Gospel in Life. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info). A small group Bible study that doubles as a how-to manual on how small group ministry ought to function for Christians.  The thesis is that every small group ought to be a microcosm of the larger body of Christ.

A Great Mystery. By Peter Leithart (Review | Product Info).  Wedding homilies preached at real weddings.  Not decontextualized at all.  Every one is different, so the collection is sort of a theology of marriage.  Practical and theological at the same time.

The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach. Edited by Bryan Chapell (Review | Product Info).  A collection of sermons preached by accomplished and polished pastors on extraordinarily difficult occasions.  National disasters, suicides, murders, and other tragedies.

Harper Collins Study Bible. Edited by the Society of Biblical Literature (Review | Product Info).  The standard Bible textbook for secular and liberal college classrooms.

The Heart of Evangelism. By Jerram Barrs (Review | Product Info). Meditations on evangelism from biblical, theological, and practical angles.  Obviously the fruit of many years of reflection and practice.

Hillbilly Elegy. By J.D. Vance (Review | Product Info). Subtitle: “A memoir of a family and culture in crisis.”  The author is a Yale-educated lawyer who comes from hillbilly stock.  An important book that does a marvelous job of opening non-hillbilly eyes to the beauty and plight of this sometimes overlooked and often despised American subculture.  Misunderstand hillbillies and you will likely not “get” America.

The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. By Craig Blomberg (Review | Product Info).  A modern classic that answers the critics and those skeptical of the historicity of the four gospel accounts Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.  Scholarly but accessible.

A History of Western Philosophy and Theology. By John Frame (Review | Product Info).  An excellent single volume overview and analysis of just what the book title promises.  From a reformed, Van Tillian perspective.  Everything was readable and understandable except the section on Process Theology.  But that’s my brain’s limitation, not the author’s fault.

History of Theology. By Bengt Hagglund (Review | Product Info).  The title says it all.  An important seminary and reference work.  Informative as it connects the dots, but not fun reading except for the enthusiast.

Homosexuality. By Edward Welch (Review | Product Info).  The best little booklet I’ve read on the biblical and theological position regarding the topic of homosexuality.  Pastorally sensitive.

Hope in the Midst of a Hostile World. By George Schwab (Review | Product Info).  An expositional commentary on the book of Daniel.  Despite some questionable hermeneutical presuppositions, the end product is evangelical and reformed.

How Then Should We Work? By Hugh Whelchel (Review | Product Info). An seminary integrative paper in published form.  Approaches the topic from more of a redemptive historical than a systematic theology method.  The author founded the Institute of Faith, Work, and Economics.

Immanuel in Our Place. By Tremper Longman (Review | Product Info). An expositional commentary on the biblical passages that teach on tabernacle, temple, the priesthood, and worship.  Redemptive historical method.  Christ-centered.

In Search of Deep Faith. By Jim Belcher (Review | Product Info).  A travel memoir, sketches from church history, and parenting tips all weaved together.  It’s the account of the author taking his family on Christian pilgrimage into the heart of European Christendom.

Is God Anti-Gay? By Sam Allberry (Review | Product Info).  A booklet written by an Anglican priest who is single and struggles against his same-sex attraction, striving to live a holy and celibate live for Christ.  Deals briefly with most of the relevant biblical passages on homosexuality.  We need more books that tells these kinds of stories, and for many to hear this side of the argument.

The Israel of God. By O. Palmer Robertson (Review | Product Info).  A biblical-theological study that traces OT Israel through to the NT Israel, which the author identifies as the Church–composed on Jews and Gentiles.

Jayber Crow. By Wendell Berry (Review | Product Info).  A hauntingly beautiful novel that speaks to the subtle goodness of human life in community before modernization, statism, and the information age squeezed out folk cultures.  All wrapped in a most unusual but satisfying love story.  It’s biblical imagery is wonderful.

John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life. By Herman Selderhuis (Review | Product Info).  A biography that tries to get at John Calvin the man as a man of his times and a man for all times.  Portrays Calvin as sincere, an imperfect yet model Christian.  This book is not hagiography.

Judges For You. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info). A devotional commentary on Judges: a particularly strange and difficult book of the Bible.  Very practical, relevant, and well received by people who engage in small group Bible study.

Judges: Such a Great Salvation. By Dale Ralph Davis (Review | Product Info). Want to read an expositional commentary on the difficult, strange, but rewarding and relevant Bible book of Judges.  You couldn’t do much better than this one.  Practical, funny, interesting, insightful, informed, accessible, God-centered, Christian, and faithful.  Written at an intermediate popular level (technical details most confined to footnotes).

Keeping Holiday. By Starr Meade (Review | Product Info).  A fictional allegory written for children, to be read during the Christmas season.  Two kids discover what Christmas is all about.  Endearing enough to be read more than once.

Knowing God. By J.I. Packer (Review | Product Info). A classic practical and devotional book on how to really know God.  By a modern day Puritan.  A beloved masterpiece and best seller.

The Language of God. By Francis Collins (Review | Product Info).  The lead scientist of the historic Human Genome Project chronicles his personal experiences in coming to Christian faith alongside his quest for scientific knowledge of genetics, biology, medicine, and the origins of life.  From a theistic evolutionary perspective.

The Leadership Dynamic. By Harry Reeder (Review | Product Info).  How to be a leader in the mold of this pastor-general.  Author seems to think his style of leadership (Man up and lead from the front line!) is the best.

Liberal Arts for the Christian Life. Edited by Jeffry Davis & Philip Ryken (Review | Product Info). A festschrift in honor of long tenured Professor Leland Ryken. Essays by professors and notable alumni of Wheaton, a Christian liberal arts college. Makes the case, from soup to nuts, for pursuing the liberal arts academically (and for life) from a Christian perspective. Don’t get caught up on chapter one’s closing illustration. Recommended for lovers of the liberal arts, whether rising college students or life-long learners.

Lost Women of the Bible. By Carolyn Custis James (Review | Product Info).  Argues the traditional view of women as submissive to and helpers of men/husbands is at best incomplete and at worse misleading.  Men and women are designed to work as a Blessed Alliance.

Love into Light. By Peter Hubbard (Review | Product Info).  A biblical view of homosexuality, written by a pastor with years of experience ministering to those with same-sex attraction and those who have left the homosexual lifestyle for life in Christ.  Practical and encouraging.

Make College Count. By Derek Melleby (Review | Product Info).  A manifesto to wake up slumbering high school and college students to the life of the mind and its compatibility with a vibrant, exciting faith in Christ.

Making Sense of God. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info). A sophisticated, up-to-date, comparison of the secular and Christian worldviews.  Approaches questions with an eye to reason, emotion, and culture.  Highly recommended for serious readers and book clubs.

Man is the Measure. By Reuben Abel (Review | Product Info).  An introduction to the enduring problems of philosophy.  Seems to be Kantian in perspective, arguing for common sense realism.  Gives short shrift to Christian philosophy and the Bible (because the author it not familiar with sophisticated Christian philosophers?).

The Marrow of Modern Divinity. By Edward Fisher (Review | Product Info).  An old Puritan classic that explains and explores the differences between legalism, antinomianism, and the gospel.  Written as a dialogue between characters taking the three positions.  A classic book of history that caused quite a controversy in England and Scotland back in the day (the Marrow Controversy).

The Meaning of Marriage. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info).  An extended study on marriage from the teaching of Ephesians 5.  Based on the author’s famous marriage tape series recorded in the 1990s.  The best book on marriage written to date.  Period.

The Message of Acts. By Dennis Johnson (Review | Product Info).  Not quite a commentary.  More like commentary on key passages from the book of Acts, arranged by topic, and approached from a redemptive historical method.

The Message of Daniel. By Dale Ralph Davis (Review | Product Info).  An expositional commentary on the book of Daniel.  Each chapter reads like a sermon.  Reformed and covenantal perspective.  Davis is a master expositor.

Ministries of Mercy. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info). Not quite a handbook on mercy ministry, but certainly a theological rationale and how-to plan for doing mercy ministry in the context of the local church. Useful for church leaders just beginning a journey into this vast need, the mercy ministry veterans, and all those in between.  Read with other church leaders and begin praying how to put it into practice.

The Modern Search for the Real Jesus. By Robert Strimple (Review | Product Info).  Takes the roof off the three historical-critical searches for the real Jesus by unmasking the movement’s presuppositions: antisupernaturalism, Bible as man’s religious musings rather than divine revelation, uniformitarianism.

New Living Translation Study Bible. (Review | Product Info).  A good English Bible translation that leans hard in the “dynamic equivalence” direction on the translation spectrum.  Great for devotional reading, but not for textual study.  The notes and study helps are mostly excellent, with a few exceptions.  Evangelical.

The New Man. By Dan Doriani (Review | Product Info).  Not just another Christian book on “how to be a Man”.  This one is really about a man being more like Jesus.  Theological,  practical, and refreshing in a realistic down-to-earth way.  Good for group study.

The Next Story. By Tim Challies (Review | Product Info).  A wake-up call for techies and those who love the latest electronic gadgets.  Remember that first we shape the technology, and then it shapes us.  Stay alert and in control to avoid addiction and idolatry.

NIV Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible. Edited by Third Mill Ministries (Review | Product Info).  Thoroughly reformed in the notes and study helps.  I find the notes more insightful than many commentaries.  Out of print, but lives again online.

The One Year Christian History. By Michael & Sharon Rusten (Review | Product Info).  Packed with engaging stories from Christian and biblical history, written as a devotional.  I wrote a topical index to make it easier to mine for illustrations.

Orthodoxy. By G.K. Chesterton (Review | Product Info).  Classic apologetic work from the early 20th century.  Still reads as if it were fresh.  The author is a master of turning a phrase and utilizing paradoxes to shine light on the hidden truths we already know.

The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness. By Donald Optiz & Derek Melleby (Review | Product Info).  High school and college students like being challenged.  Not just in their Christian faith, but to live out the academic and vocational implications of their faith with excellence.  God’s calling is no less.

Parenting in the Pew. By Robbie Castleman (Review | Product Info).  Tips for parents with small children struggling to make it through the church service without going crazy.  Emphasizes patience, congregational support, and training for worship (not babysitting).

A Patriot’s History of the Modern World: Volume 1. By Larry Schweikart & David Dougherty (Review | Product Info). A (mostly) “just-the-facts” recounting of the history of the world from 1898 to 1945.  Written from a politically conservative perspective that espouses American Exceptionalism.

A Patriot’s History of the Modern World: Volume 2. By Larry Schweikart & David Dougherty (Review | Product Info). Continues the story begun in Volume 1, picking up at the beginning of the baby-boomer era.  Ends half-way through Obama’s presidency.  Whereas the pessimism for the future was veiled in the first volume, in this book the pessimism ends in alarmism.  Will America’s four pillars of exceptionalism soon crumble?

The Person of Christ. By Donald Macleod (Review | Product Info).  A historical study on the doctrine of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  A readable seminary textbook.  In the important Contours of Christian Theology series.

The Pilgrim’s Progress. By John Bunyan (Review | Product Info). An allegorical novel on the Christian life, narrated as a journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City.  Written in the 17th century.  A readable classic!

Popologetics. By Ted Turnau (Review | Product Info).  And now for something completely different.  Well, not exactly.  It’s apologetics applied to popular culture.  Through the lenses of creation, fall, redemption, and re-creation.  Eye opening, interesting, and entertaining.

Popular Crime. By Bill James (Review | Product Info).  The quirky writer on all things baseball ventures into his other lifetime passion: famous and historic crimes in American pop culture.  James tells the story of each crime and then argues his solution.  Clever, witty, populist, and snarky.

Porn Nation. By Michael Leahy (Review | Product Info).  A Christian writes for Oprah’s audience, warning us of the dangers of porn addiction.  His story is a cautionary tale.  His solution is the gospel.  Sobering and hopeful.

Prayer. By Tim Keller. (Review | Product Info).  This one revolutionized my prayer life because after reading, studying, thinking, digesting, and practicing this book, I feel like prayer is finally something I basically understand: it’s like rowing while waiting for the winds to fill the soul’s sails.  Want to learn about prayer from someone who learned from the Christian “masters of prayer”?  Start here.

A Praying Life. By Paul Miler (Review | Product Info).  Along with Keller’s book on prayer, this book helped me to get over the hump to a “natural” prayer life.  Now prayer feels a little more like breathing to me.  Want to learn how to “pray without ceasing”?  Start here.

Preaching. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info).  This should follow closely on the heals of every seminarian’s Preaching 101 class.  Probably as the last assigned text in that first class.  And for the non-preacher?  You need this book to discern good biblical preaching from a poor sermon or a good lecture.  Preaching is unique speech.  Keller will show you what it is, and how to do it in this era of late-modernity.

Preaching Christ in All of Scripture. By Edmund Clowney (Review | Product Info).  The author’s method of preaching redemptive-historical Christ-centered sermons.  Sound too technical?  Then start with the second half which includes examples of his best sermons.

Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture. By Graeme Goldsworthy (Review 1 & Review 2 | Product Info).  A supplement to Clowney’s book.  Highly recommended for those who are not quite sure how to find and preach Christ from every Bible passage.

The Prodigal God. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info).  Highlights both the younger prodigal son and older Pharisee-like brother to magnify the “prodigal” (lavish) grace of God.  This book will expose the latent Pharisee in your heart, which is good medicine for Christians.

Pulling Back the Shades. By Dannah Gresh & Juli Slattery (Review | Product Info).  Two women sound the alarm regarding “Mommy Porn”.  The titillating literature is bad enough, but the poison becomes more potent in Hollywood movie form.  But they also highlight the gospel’s hope for women (and men) who have fallen into sexual temptation and sin.

A Quest for More. By Paul Tripp (Review | Product Info).  Somewhat like “The Purpose Driven Life” but better because it’s more faithful to the Bible.  Stop pursuing your little kingdom and settle for nothing short of the Big Kingdom (of God).  Insightful on heart idols.

Quitting Church. By Julia Duin (Review | Product Info).  Why are so many Christians (especially singles) leaving the institutional church but not their faith?  Religion Journalist Duin sheds light on the question, sharing her personal struggle to not quit church too.

Read/Mark/Learn Romans. By St. Helen’s Bishopsgate (Review | Product Info).  A small group study book on Paul’s epistle to the Romans.  Commentary and discussion questions.  Highly recommended.  Anglican and Reformed.

Real Sex. By Lauren Winner (Review | Product Info).  Why is sexual activity outside the bounds of biblical morality wrong?  Lots of Christians in our hyper-sexualized culture need better answers than the church sometimes gives.  They need the Bible’s theology of sex narrated in the Story of Love.  Winner tells of her search for answers, placing her story of searching for and finding love into the Bible’s metanarrative of Love.

The Reason for God. By Tim Keller (Review | Product Info).  An apologetics book for today’s masses.  Both defensive and offensive (but not abrasive).  Keller is a top-rate apologist who continues to actually do apologetics through dialog with unbelievers in their forums.

Redeeming Science. By Vern Poythress (Review | Product Info).  Rebuilding the thoughtful, responsible, and faithful foundations of modern science.  Seeks to give God’s written Word the primary place of authority, yet open to reexamining the accepted human interpretation of the Bible in light of our observations of God’s natural world.  Brilliant and original.

Reformed Means Missional. Edited by Samuel Logan (Review | Product Info).  The title is the thesis.  As controversial as it is in the wider Christian world, the evidence bears it out.  A collection of essays, with more content included in the ebook than the print edition.

Resilient Ministry. By Bob Burns, Tasha Chapman & Donald Guthrie (Review | Product Info).  An interesting sociological and psychological study of what factors help and hinder ordained ministers in being successful and faithful to their calling.

A Return to Modesty. By Wendy Shalit (Review | Product Info).  Written by a young secular Jewish woman who calls the modern West back to a traditional modesty for the sake of true feminism and femininity.  Part memoir, part research.  Reaches many conclusions to which Christians can say “Amen!”

The Returning King. By Vern Poythress (Review | Product Info).  A study guide and commentary on the book of Revelation.  Possibly the best place to begin studying when you aren’t sure which millennial position or school of interpretation is right.  Sees the good, the common ground, and the not-so-helpful aspects of the various ways of reading this beautiful book of the Bible.  Essentially amillennial and idealist.

Romans. By Paul Barnett (Review | Product Info).  A beginner’s commentary on Romans that combines interpretation, exposition, and application in a good balance.  By an  Reformation Anglican from Australia.

A Royal “Waste” of Time. By Marva Dawn (Review | Product Info).  Worshiping the King of kings could not possibly be a waste of time.  Dawn provides the theological answer why this is true, and then offers practical suggestions for helping worship services to feel more alive and worthy of the God we serve.

Same Lake, Different Boat. By Stephanie Hubach (Review | Product Info).  A theology of disability, written by a mother of a grown Down-syndrome child.  The premise of the book is that we live in world where the abnormal is normal.  This both humanizes those who are different and allows room for lament.  This is not the way it’s supposed to be, and one day it will all be made right again.  Until that day, we all live in the normality of the abnormal.

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. By Rosaria Champagne Butterfield (Review | Product Info).  Inside the mind of  a formerly “churched”, then prodigal lesbian professor, and now a heterosexually married pastor’s wife and mother.  Her description of her conversion to Christ as “a train wreck” is honest, raw, and gripping.

Scaling the Secular City. By J.P. Moreland (Review | Product Info).  An introduction to the art and science of Christian apologetics by a philosophically-minded Arminian-leaning evangelical.  There is much for a Reformed Christian to glean from Moreland.

Seven Men and the Secret of Their Greatness. By Eric Metaxas (Review | Product Info).  Biographical essays of seven Christian male heroes.  Mextaxas holds them up as worthy of honor and imitation.  Not quite hagiography, but certainly not touching much on their sins and faults.

The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses. By Vern Poythress (Review | Product Info).  Want to know how the Mosaic Law may be profitably read, understood, and applied by Christians?  Start here.

Should Christians Embrace Evolution? Edited by Norman Nevin (Review | Product Info).  Answers with an emphatic, unqualified NO!  The essays are a mixed bag.  For those more interested in the arguments from science than theology and biblical studies, this book might not whet your appetite for thorough answers.  But the scientific arguments contained therein are still useful.

Side By Side. By Edward Welch (Review | Product Info).  Want to be a certified Christian counselor?  Better to start reviewing the basics of true friendship.  That’s what this book is essentially about–being a true friend.  Provides very doable tips on how to walk with others side by side.

The Songs of Jesus. By Timothy Keller (Review | Product Info). A wonderful devotion through all 150 psalms.  Arranged as a one-year Christian devotional, with each day including on a single page a psalm (or a portion thereof), a small paragraph of Keller’s reflections and meditations, and a brief summary prayer.  This devotional is simple and deep.  You may not think so at first, but I found it really grows on you.  A future classic?

Spiritual Classics. Edited by Richard Foster (Review | Product Info).  From an ecumenical perspective.  Reading these will give you a glimpse into how lots of different Christians, from various traditions, places, and eras pursued the discipline of spiritual piety.  Not everything will scratch your itch, but there is likely something here for everyone.

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. By Donald Whitney (Review | Product Info).  The author is a recognized authority on the classic spiritual disciplines.  This is a readable introduction to the ins and outs of daily living as a Christian.  Evangelical.

The Stories We Tell. By Mike Cosper (Review | Product Info). A reverent but folksy meditation and analysis of popular TV and movies from a Christian perspective.  With an eye to cultural engagement.  A fun and insightful read.  Broadly reformed.

The Story of Christianity. By Michael Collins & Matthew Price (Review | Product Info).  A coffee-table styled book with lots of pictures, charts, diagrams, tables, and blurbs.  But don’t be fooled.  This is not fluff.  Although written for a popular audience, the reader will have a good grasp of the story of Christianity just by using this book.  Ecumenical.

The Symphony of Scripture. By Mark Strom (Review | Product Info).  A introduction to the Bible from a “biblical theology” perspective.  Unfortunately, this one seems antagonistic to systematic theology in a few places.  It also has a couple places where it runs off the rails.  Evangelical and reformed.

Tactics. By Greg Koukl (Review | Product Info).  A simple game plan for Christians to engage in apologetic conversations in order to stay in the “driver’s seat”, turn the tables on objections, and find the flaws in bad arguments.  A sort of meta-evangelism.  Every Christian should read this book, beginning with college students.

Taking God at His Word. By Kevin DeYoung (Review | Product Info).  Why trust the Bible in this day and age?  This is a good, succinct answer.  Easy to read and finish.  It’s a short book that packs a wallop!  Reformed.

Teaching to Change Lives. By Howard Hendricks (Review | Product Info).  Written for teachers and those who are teachers at heart.  By all accounts Hendricks was a beloved and universally-admired seminary professor.  You’ll wish you knew him, and be glad you learned his wisdom on great teaching.

Ten Things I Wish Jesus Never Said. By Victor Kuligin (Review | Product Info).  Sort of a “Hard Sayings of Jesus” updated.  Written by a first time author who is a seasoned missionary in Africa.  His perspective and illustrations are fresh and convicting.  Here is a man who takes the words of Jesus seriously and seeks to follow his Master wherever he leads.  Evangelical.

To Change the World. By James Hunter (Review | Product Info).  A sociological study that argues Christians have been going about culture change all wrong.  Turns out if you want to change the world, rather than focusing on “one heart at a time,” we should concentrate on building and maintaining institutions.  Heart change will happen apart from and through faithful institutions.  We’ll neglected the latter and lost the culture.  Scholarly.

True Community. By Jerry Bridges (Review | Product Info).  Explores the biblical idea of fellowship (koinonia) and how Christians can cultivate more of it.  Evangelical and reformed.

True Truth. By Art Lindsley (Review | Product Info).  Apologetics in the the school of the late great Francis Schaeffer.  Argues for absolute truth in an age of relativism and post-truth.  Evangelical and reformed.

Unbroken. By Laura Hillenbrand (Review | Product Info).  A biographical novel that narrates the story Louis Zamperini–the man, the myth, the legend!  Seriously, what a life this man lived.  Like any good biography, you’ll be changed by reading it.

War of Words. By Paul Tripp (Review | Product Info).  Biblical counseling on family and marital communication.  Tripp understands your struggles because he’s made all your same mistakes and more.  He’s at his best when unpacking a longer passage of Scripture and teasing out implications.  If you fight with your tongue (actively, passively, or via the silent treatmnet), this book could be very helpful.

Washed and Waiting. By Wesley Hill (Review | Product Info).  The author identifies as a “celibate gay Christian.”  His foundational identity is as an evangelical Christian first.  But his lifelong sexual desires lead him to identify as gay.  But he sees those desires as disordered and broken, so in submission to Christ lives in celibate obedience.  This book is basically his testimony and story.  If you don’t know anyone who identifies as gay, then you could start here.  And it might be a provocative read for those who struggle with same-sex attraction.  There is abundant life in living chaste, especially by pursuing spiritual friendships.

The Way of the (Modern) World. By Craig Gay (Review | Product Info).  A socio-theological analysis of the shape and power of the secular culture that characterizes so much of the modern world.  The author lumps post-modernism into the modern world as  a late-modern phase of the Enlightenment experiment.  Conclusion: It’s tough being a serious Christian these days!  Evangelical and scholarly.

What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an. By James White (Review | Product Info).  Written by one of today’s foremost Christian apologists.  Years ago White saw the need in the very near future for an answer to Islam.  He was right.  Thankfully he prepared and now get to profit from the fruit of his labors.  This book focuses less on Islamic theology and more on the Qur’an itself.  For Muslim detractors–yes, White does know Arabic so he reads the Qur’an in the original language.

What’s Your Worldview? By James Anderson (Review | Product Info).  A “choose your own adventure” style apologetics primer on the various worldviews that people hold throughout the world.  This is a fun and eye-opening read.  The author makes self-assessment fun!  The book is also a GREAT conversation starter.

When Shall These Things Be? Edited by Keith Mathison (Review | Product Info).  A biblical and theological reply to the heresy of hyper-preterism (the belief that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD–including Christ’s second coming and the consummation of the new heavens and earth).  Not all essay contributors are partial-preterists, but some are such as Ken Gentry.  If you’ve picked up hyper-preterist convictions on the internet (I think the web is its last habitat!), then you owe it to yourself to grapple with this book.

When Sinners Say “I Do”. By Dave Harvey (Review | Product Info).  A helpful marriage preparation book.  The author loves his wife and marriage as a glorious covenant between husband and wife.  But he doesn’t harbor any fantasies about what real marriages look and feel like.  Engaged couples: put all your cards on the table beforehand by working through a book like this one.  Your future selves and grown children will rise up and call you blessed.

Wild At Heart. By John Eldredge (Review | Product Info). A valiant attempt at calling men to biblical masculinity.  Asserts every man has a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and beauty to rescue, and that these are God’s design for every man’s life.  The book is soul stirring, but unfortunately riddled with serious problems.  Nice try Eldredge, but no cigar.

Wise Words. By Peter Leithart (Review | Product Info).  Allegorical faith lessons for children.  Leithart is a deep thinking intellectual who a master communicator.  Sort of a renaissance man.  Those familiar with Leithart’s theological work know his ideas can be untrustworthy.  But not here.  This book is worthy of reading to your children as devotional or bed-time stories.  Reformed.

World War II: A Definitive Visual History. By DK Publishers (Review | Product Info).  A coffee-table book that begs to be picked up.  There are no “buffs” like WW2 buffs, and this history will not disappoint them.

You Asked. By William Edgar (Review | Product Info).  A Christian apologetic for 21st century youth.  Some of the issues and questions are timeless, but every generation asks its own peculiar questions that pertain to the culture they inhabit.  Suitable for mid- to late-teens up to perhaps college students.  Reformed.

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