2008 A Year in Books

I have been a little slow getting around to this but nevertheless the tradition continues. Previous years lists are also available:

Books are listed in alphabetical order, by author’s last name, with brief commentary/synopsis. I hope you are encouraged to read some of the books on this list and I would love to hear what you are reading.

Top Ten

  • Dematest, Bruce. The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation (Foundations of Evangelical Theology) ISBN: 1581348126
    This volume was wonderfully organized, historically thorough, and theologically solid. A pleasure to read and I commend it to you.
  • Berry, Wendell. Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition ISBN: 1582431418
    This was a great introduction to the writings of Wendell Berry, a Kentucky native, whose writing style and practical insights I have come to love. I think this is less about this specific book and more about introducing me to an author I deeply enjoy.
  • Cole, Neil. Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens ISBN: 078798129X
    This was a great and immensely challenging book. I need to read this one again. His emphasis is profoundly practical and should be an encouragement and challenge to pastors and church planters alike. I am still wrestling with some of his points and need to give them more thought, but I think that is the a mark of a great work.
  • Merrill, Eugene H. Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old testament Israel ISBN: 9780801031991
    While there are certain dates and the like that I disagree with in this volume I greatly enjoyed it as I previously had little knowledge of Israel’s history besides the disconnected fragments that I had gathered in Sunday school as a child. This volume is fairly accessible as well and I would recommend it to any church member who wished to know more of Israel’s history as a people and nation.
  • Moerman, Murray. Discipling Our Nation: Equipping the Canadian Church for Its Mission ISBN: 0969456441
    As we hope to church plant in Canada this was an encouraging collection of essays by Canadian evangelicals who desire to plant churches and further god’s kingdom in their country. I would definitely commend it to anyone interested in Canadian ministry but even more I would recommend it to American’s as we consider how to minister in our increasingly secular context. In a way what I appreciate the most about this book is its emphasis upon proclaiming the gospel and thinking missiologically about the Canadian context.
  • Neuwirth, Robert. Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World ISBN: 0415953618
    You have to read this book. Every year some 70 million individuals leave their rural homes and move to the city. This influx has created shadow cities, squatter cities, and in 20 years an estimated 2 billion people will live in these shadow cities. This book tells their stories and the story of their cities. He begins by telling the stories of individuals in four cities and then looks at various issues concerning the future of these cities and squatters. This is not a theological book, it is not a missiological book, it is not even a “Christian book” but I have not read anything in quite some time that was so challenging and caused me to wrestle with more theological and missiological issues that this text. How can the glories of Christ be demonstrated in these cities and who will go to tell of them?
  • Powlison, David. Competent to Counsel? The History of a Conservative Protestant Biblical Counseling Movement ISBN: N/A
    This was a very exciting read it was profoundly practical and informing as well. Powlison gives a detailed description of both the history and theological convictions which have undergirded the biblical counseling movement. This should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in pastoral ministry.
  • Saucy, Robert L. The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism: The Interface Between Dispensational and Non-Dispensational Theology ISBN: 0310304415
    I read this book on vacation and it was a pleasure. I actually had to superglue this book together twice and leave it in a vice so that I continue reading, not because it was cheaply manufactured but because it was so interesting and deserved a thorough working over. If you are interested in eschatology this is the book for you.
  • Sire, James W. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog ISBN: 9780830827800
    This is one of the simplest and least cumbersome introduction to worldview that I have encountered. His frequent references to film and literature as to illustrate particular worldviews make this work particularly enjoyable and easily accessible.
  • Winter, Ralph D. and Steven C. Hawthorne. Perspectives On the World Christian Movement: A Reader ISBN: 0878082891
    This massive tome is a collection of missiological and theological essays on varying topics. The only critique I have is that I wish the collection was arranged historically, rather than theologically, to demonstrate the development of missiological thought. There are a lot of invaluable reads contained in this volume and there are numerous essays demonstrating certain modes of thought that have crippled missions in decades past and I am thankful that we have overcome, or are overcoming.

Honorable Mentions

  • Bell, Rob. Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith ISBN: 9780310273080
    I am planning to do an in-depth critique of this book in the near future because of its popularity and problematic teachings. While I clearly take issue with Bell’s doctrinal error the most disappointing aspect of this work is his research, or lack thereof, which is primarily seen in his failure to cite the cultural and historic resources which have led him to his various conclusions. Needless to say this book is for discerning readers only.
  • Blaising, Craig A., Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., and Robert B. Strimple. Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond (Counterpoints) ISBN: 0310201438
    I do not typically read counterpoint books; however, this was an informative read. I would also recommend The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views ISBN: 9780877847946 as the essays by Hoekema and Ladd are also very good.
  • Blakke, Ray and Jim Hart. The Urban Christian: Effective Ministry in Today’s Urban World ISBN: 0877845239
    This is a great little book. It is more autobiographical in nature and that is why I enjoyed it so much. Blakke underwent much hardship and suffering to minister in his urban environment and we would do well to spend more time contemplating and emulating his life than we do formulating urban strategy.
  • Blomberg, Craig L. From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts Through Revelation ISBN: 9780805432480
    This volume is more of a one volume commentary than a New Testament introduction. He spends too much time explaining the text and too little time on matters like author, date, and setting. The content is theologically solid I would have just appreciated more in the way of actual introduction.
  • Coleman, Robert E. The Master Plan of Evangelism ISBN: 0800731220
    Coleman has given us a fantastic work detailing evangelism and discipleship. This is a must read for every pastor, missionary, and church member.
  • Conn, Harvie M. Planting and Growing Urban Churches: From Dream to Reality ISBN: 080102109X
    This is a helpful and well organized collection of essays on urban church planting. I especially appreciate Conn’s introductory sections and his emphasis upon the imago Dei.
  • Dever, Mark. A Display of God’s Glory: Basics of Church Structure Deacons, Elders, Congregationalism, and Membership ISBN: 0970125224
    This is required reading for our church’s membership class and it should be for yours as well.
  • Galloway, Bryan K. The World as They See: A Workbook on “Writing Ethnographic Records” ISBN: N/A
    This is a brief workbook on writing ethnographic records. Its brecity and clarity make it a great introduction to the subject.
  • Gmelch, George and Walter P. Zenner. Urban Life: Readings in the Anthropology of the City ISBN: 157766194X
    This is an interesting collection of anthropological essays.
  • Hall, Ron and Denver Moore. Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together ISBN: 9780489919107
    I think the timing of this book made its message so powerful. Hall and Moore’s story is a powerful picture of racial reconciliation. However, as a spiritual book it is interesting at times and lacks clarity concerning the gospel; although I doubt elucidating the gospel was their purpose in writing.
  • Hammett, John S. Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology ISBN: 9780825427695
    There are far better works on ecclesiology available and I would not recommend this work. It was not terrible but it lacked organization and theological depth.
  • Hill, E. Andrew and John H. Walton. A Survey of the Old Testament ISBN: 0310229030
    This survey features helpful overviews and outlines. They maintained a balanced and evangelical stance throughout although they do deny Mosaic authorship of certain sections of the Pentateuch, among other significant weaknesses.
  • Hoekema, Anthony A. The Bible and the Future ISBN: 0802835163
    While I disagree with amillennialism this book was a pleasurable and very informative read. This is a fantastic work that I will continue to return to throughout my studies.
  • Hoffmeier, James K. Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition ISBN: 9780195155464
    While I disagree with some of the dates and his description of the Red Sea crossing this book is a fantastic source of information on Israel’s presence in the wilderness. His section on archaeological method and the importance of suzerainty/vassal treaties and dating particular texts are intriguing.
  • Lawless, Chuck. Discipled Warriors: Growing Healthy Churches that are Equipped for Spiritual Warfare ISBN: 082543159X
    I would recommend reading Robert E. Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism instead of this book as it gives a far more natural and organic picture of discipleship.
  • Lawless, Chuck. Membership Matters: Insights from Effective Churches on New Member Classes and Assimilation ISBN: 9780310262862
    Lawless allowed statistics to dictate the message of this book rather than the text of Scripture and as such it was doctrinally weak and disappointing. There are several practical forms/worksheets in the appendices but there are far better books available on membership.
  • Lawson, Steven J. Famine in the Land: A Passionate Call for Expository Preaching ISBN: 0802411215
    This is an encouraging and quick read from an author whom I love and appreciate.
  • Logan, Robert E. and Neil Cole. Beyond Church Planting ISBN: 1889638498
    This is a fantastic, although absurdly expensive, church planting resource. The material is fantastic, I even formed a discussion group with several of my friends to read this volume and talk about its contents, however; I cannot understand why a three-ring binder and some CDs costs $100.
  • MacArthur, John. A Take of Two Sons: The Inside Story of a Father, His Sons, and a Shocking Murder ISBN: 9780785262688
    I have heard MacArthur preach the sermons that this book is based off of several times so this was a pleasure to finally read. I appreciate his ability to take this parable and demonstrate its Christological importance in a way which it engaging and profoundly convicting.
  • Malphurs, Aubrey. Advanced Strategic Planning: A New Model for Church and Ministry Leaders ISBN: 0801091810
    This book tended to treat church planting like a business venture and I did not enjoy it.
  • Mohler, R. Albert, Jr. Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth ISBN: 9781590529744
    This is a collection of posts from Mohler’s blog on key issues facing America. This is a quick read and I always appreciate what Mohler has to say, even when I disagree with him.
  • Mouw, Richard J. When the Kings Come Marching In: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem ISBN: 0802839967
    This volume presents the reader with a thought-provoking understanding of what is means to seek the city that is too come. I appreciate that Mouw avoids the over-politicized stance taken in so many books like this one.
  • Myers, Bryant L. Exploring World Mission: Context and Challenges ISBN: 1887983511
    This little book is loaded with charts and maps that help the reader to visualize the current state of world missions.
  • Nash, Ronald H. Faith and Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith ISBN: 0310294010
    Nash introduces the reader to various issues from worldview, to epistemology and the existence of God. I would recommend reading Life’s Ultimate Questions first as this book is a more difficult read. I also find Francis Schaeffer’s writings on similar topics to be far easier to grasp.
  • Nash, Ronald H. Life’s Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy ISBN: 0310223644
    This introduction to the world of philosophy is a lucid and informative read.
  • Neighbour, Ralph W., Jr. Where do We Go from Here?: A Guidebook for the Cell Group Church ISBN: 1880828170
    Part one and two of this work are fantastic as he provides insightful critique to the program based church and positive examples of an organic cell-based structure. However, the third section is a total disappointment as his church structure becomes unnecessarily complex and reproducible only in its simplest form.
  • Payne, J. D. Missional House Churches: Reaching Our Communities with the Gospel ISBN: 9781934068250
    J. D. is a good friend and this book is a fantastic examination of house churches in the United States. What I appreciate most about this book is that it begins with a lucid explanation of ecclesiology and this emphasis is seen throughout this work as he focuses on both theology and methodology. This is a must read for anyone interested in church planting or house churches.
  • Powlison, David. Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition Through the Lens of Scripture ISBN: 087552608X
    This is a collection of essays written for the Journal of Biblical Counseling between 1985 and 2003. The third chapter is worth the price of the book; the whole book is great but that chapter is mind-blowing.
  • Redford, Jack. Planting New Churches: Nine Well-tested Steps for Starting New Churches ISBN: 0805463143
    This was a great fun read. It is very encouraging to see how far church planting has come since this book was written in 1978.
  • Rendtorff, Rolf. The Old Testament: An Introduction ISBN: 0800625447
    Rendtorff views Scripture as a piece of uninspired literature written by a nomadic people. Beyond his denial of Scripture’s inspiration there are other weaknesses with this volume. While he understands that they are writing for primarily theological purposes he pays little attention to Israel’s creation narrative in comparison with other ancient near eastern creation narratives. While emphasizing the theological nature of the text he fails to note how the validity of the theological message hinges on the historicity of the account.
  • Roberts, Vaughan. God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible ISBN: 0830853642
    This is a fantastic introduction to biblical theology. This volume is well organized and concise. I would love to see a simplified version for children. I would recommend this as a precursor to Graeme Goldsworthy’s According to Plan.
  • Ross, Hugh. The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God ISBN: 1576832880
    As a presuppositionalist I think Ross places too much of an emphasis upon man’s need for information. Romans 1 paints a far different picture of the human condition. I would argue that he often reads a 21st century understanding of astrophysics into the text rather that exegeting what is really there. Nevertheless this book may prove helpful to someone seeking evidence for the existence of God. Because Ross argues elsewhere that the curse is retroactive before the fall of man, among other things, I would caution against using his works as a source of theology.
  • Schreiner, Thomas R. and Shawn D. Wright. Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ (NAC Studies in Bible & Theology) ISBN: 9780805432497
    I only read the chapter by Stephen J Wellum and it did a great job explaining the relationship between baptism and the biblical covenants. The other chapters are all written by leading Baptist scholars so they should be helpful as well.
  • Scoggins, Dick. Planting House Churches in Networks: A Manual from the Perspective of a Church Planting Team ISBN: N/A
    This book is available for free download at Dick Scoggins Online. This is one of the best resources available on planting elder-led house churches. Take the time to download this fantastic, and massive, resource as well as the many other resources available at their website.
  • Searcy, Nelson and Kerrick Thomas. Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch ISBN: 9780830743100
    If you want to start a business then this is your book; if you want to plant a church then I suggest you begin elsewhere.
  • Smith, Marsha A. Ellis. Holman Book of Biblical Charts, Maps, and Reconstructions ISBN: 9781558193598
    This is a book of maps and charts; it is the only one I own so I have nothing to compare it to. It could be snazzier but it gets the job done.
  • Stetzer, Ed and Mike Dodson. Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can Too ISBN: 9780805445367
    This is similar in nature to Membership Matters by Chuck Lawless but what I appreciate about this volume is that Stetzer and Dodson begin by setting forth a theological understanding of the church and its responsibilities and then explaining their research. This helps to avoid the pragmatism present in so many books researching church success. This would be a helpful volume if your church is struggling but I would suggest you begin with a sobering theological examination prior to turning to a volume like this.
  • Tiffe, Armand P. Transformed Into His Likeness: A Handbook for Putting Off Sin and Putting On Righteousness ISBN: 1885904525
    This is a very practical booklet which gives a lengthy list of behaviors which should be put off followed by Scripture references to aid in the process of change. This is a simple yet helpful aid for anyone seeking to counsel biblically.
  • Thumma, Scott and Dave Travis. Beyond Megachurch Myths: What Can We Learn from America’s Largest Churches ISBN: 9780787994679
    Thumma and Travis tried too hard to vindicate all megachurches while offering biblical critique of none. If they had offered real critique by providing both positive and negative examples of megachurch ministry then this work would have been great. However, they offer little to no critique and approach megachurches as a broad phenomenon rather than individual ministries so this work has little value.
  • Tripp, Paul David. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change ISBN: 0875526071
    This is a practical and helpful book on the method of biblical counseling.
  • Ware, Bruce A. God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith ISBN: 1581344430
    In the follow up to God’s Lesser Glory Ware provides the reader with an apophatic theology of the sovereignty of God. He does this by contrasting a reformed evangelical understanding of sovereignty with that of open and process theism. His section of the freedom of the will is fantastic.
  • Wright, Steve and Chris Graves. Rethink: Decide for Yourself is Student Ministry Working? ISBN: 9781931548694
    While I agree more with individuals like Voddie Baucham on issues of youth ministry this volume offers helpful critique of the “youth group” model of youth ministry. Not a bad book but not amazing either.
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6 thoughts on “2008 A Year in Books

  1. I actually did read it all…not sure what exactly that says about me. It might say that I’m at work and bored, but I’m not sure. Hope you guys are doing well!

  2. My first thought was “was this an old post, it says 2008?” My second thought is “Man, you should really read some non-religious texts…some socio/politico/economico or maybe some poetry or political thriller…”

  3. Dang, Keith. You are a reading machine. By the amount of knowledge you digest, one would think you’re an aging old hermit withering away on some mountaintop. Really impressed witht he blog, man.

  4. Justin,
    Your first thought should have been “this guy is a terrible procrastinator!” As for your second thought I agree. I have a bunch of fiction, classic literature, history, and philosophy books that I need to read. I keep buying them but have not had time with school, study for church, and work. Now that I have graduated I am hoping that will change. But there are a couple of non-religious anthropology books on the list; that is all I have had time to squeeze in thus far.

    Doug,
    HA! How did you know I was withering away? I am only sustained by lots of free coffee! Thanks for the compliment and you rock.

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