2014 Top Books

I suppose a “better late than never” is in order. I recently came across a 2013 Top Ten list of books I compiled for a friend on my personal blog and it made me miss the thinking involved in compiling these lists for what I read in the past year. So, I determined I ought to make one for last year, almost halfway through this year.

I typically try to have a ‘canon of theologians’ list – the goal being to read a different theologian in church history each month – to read through every year, but outside of Christian books, I also try to vary my reading. However, on this outlet I’ll limit the list to my favorite Christian books I read in 2014. Some of these will be new releases, while others are classics that I try to re-read occasionally. Other than the first book on the list, these will be in no particular order.

The King in His Beauty by Thomas Schreiner

By far the best book I read this year. Beauty is an appropriate superlative for this book. Schreiner has done an excellent job of compiling a theology of the Bible. I am in particular agreement with his thesis of “God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s reign” but for me the reason this book is beautiful is because of its content, and how this thesis unfolds through the book. The theme is a constant reminder of everything that points to “the King in His beauty.” What a beautiful hope we have as Christians. And so not only is this book doctrinally rich, with much to learn from it, but even more importantly it will make you pause and worship. I’m thankful the church has such a gift.

The Acts of the Risen Lord Jesus by Alan J. Thompson

This is an excellent work chronicling the events of Acts that primarily focuses on the work of Christ. Of course the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost is an important event in Acts, but Alan Thompson doesn’t want us to forget – as we often do – that Christ is in his “session” during this time in history as well. The Lord is Risen and is reigning, these are ultimately His acts.

Summary of Christian Doctrine by Louis Berkhof

Berkhof is one of my favorite theologians. His complete Systematic Theology is probably the work I reference most often. This summary is a great, concise resource as well. It’s a short treatment of key dogmatic issues, and is a pleasure to read. Another benefit is the opportunity to read straight through book hitting every topic. Something you most likely don’t do with a full systematic. It helps us “remember.” Something we desperateley need in order to continue to grow in areas of the Christian faith. This would be a great place to start if you’re interested in reading Berkhof. It’s also a great book to giveaway.

Expositional Preaching by David Helm

The first book I read in the 9Marks “Building Healthy Churches” series, and I’m not sure I’ve read a better introduction to expositional preaching. It’s a quick read, but it makes a great case for what is called expositional preaching. It is a style that is making a comeback in recent years, and many would argue it’s the only style of preaching that we should do regularly. Helm gives many good scriptural examples and application of what it is and how we serve our churches by preaching this way.

Behind the Ranges by J. O. Fraser

An amazing story. I was not familiar with Fraser before coming across this work and I was blown away with his pioneering work in China with the Lisu people. His endurance and patience with the work among the people is something that we should all be in awe of, and is something that I ask for more where we serve. We need more J. O. Fraser’s in the church today.

The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It seems an antiquated word in our world today. But how utterly and completely scriptural it is. Maybe the reason we need to continue reading these types of works from the Puritans. They had a real grasp of sin that eludes many of us in our modern world. Watson will guide you through this doctrine from the Word, encouraging true repentance. The day of the Lord is now.

The Presence of the Future by George Eldon Ladd

Living in the “already and not yet.” Ladd is a well known Baptist theologian who talk much of the Kingdom from Scripture. This book is a treatment of eschatology and its primary focus on Christ who ushered in the end times, but explains the time has not come to fulfillment. I enjoyed this book because of my interest in this area of biblical study.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

A classic work. One that has endured and one that I love reading. It’s truly a journey walking with Christian – the book’s protagonist – through his life. If you haven’t taken this journey through the Christian life before, you need to take a walk with Bunyan this year. The edition linked to above is the Banner of Truth edition and is a beautiful copy you can keep for years to come.

Evangelism by Mack Stiles

The second book in the 9Marks series I read this year. I have read Stiles – who often writes on evangelism – before and wasn’t disappointed. This book is very accessible and is a good defense of why the church needs to be evangelizing It’s also and encouragement to do so. I was looking for resources to give away as gifts to pastors over here and found some great ideas in this series. Evangelism is an area that is tragically neglected in our churches today.

On the Incarnation by Athanasius

I was encouraged by a couple of friends on Twitter to read this during the holiday season, and what a beautiful read at Christmas time. The incarnation being the true miracle of the season. God becoming man is something that we should constantly be in awe of and try to remind ourselves often. This book will help do that. It’s also refreshing to read something of such antiquity.

That concludes my list.

What books were your favorite from last year since you’ve had four months to think about it, and why?