Reflections on Reading: Top 10 Reads of 2020

Last year I blogged about every book I read in 2019. It was fun to do and even helped open the door to write about reading at Intersect. This year I simply want to share my ten favorite reads in 2020. I hope you’ll consider purchasing these books to not only learn from these authors, but to also support them.

  1. Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund. I didn’t realize how much I need this book until I was turning its pages. What I found was so comforting I’ll certainly read it again. Read this book and feel the warmth of Christ’s heart for you, “Your anguish is his home.”

2. 40 Questions About Typology and Allegory, Mitchell Chase. When I was a college Freshman I was assigned Graeme Golsworthy’s According to Plan. It transformed the way I saw the Bible and deepened my love for the Holy Scriptures. I think Chase’s books will do the same for many undergrad students in the future. It is absolutely excellent. Buy one, read it, and then buy one for a friend.

3.Hearers and Doers, Kevin Vanhoozer. I loved this book because it distills many of the ideas in Vanhoozers’ Drama of Doctrine into an accessible discipleship guide for pastors. He writes, “The true end of theology, its final purpose, is not an orthodox compendium of doctrine but an orthodox community of disciples who embody the mind of Jesus Christ everywhere, to everyone, at all times.” Appealing, yes?

4. Baptists and The Christian Tradition, Ed. Matthew Emerson, R. Lucas Stamps, and Christopher Morgan. Excellent from beginning to end. This multi-authored volume builds a house upon the stable foundation laid at The Center for Baptist Renewal ( Rather than a isolationist Baptist vision these contributors “affirm the distinctive contributions of the Baptist tradition as a renewal movement within the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”

Each contribution is well worth your time and money. The chapters by Putman, Stamps, Bruce, Whitfield, and Dockery were especially helpful to me

5. He Descended to the Dead, Matthew Emerson. The highest praise I can give this book is that it persuaded me to change my mind. Emerson convincingly shows that the doctrine of Christ’s descent to the dead is a biblical doctrine and historically warranted in the church’s tradition. Emerson clarifies misunderstandings and anticipates common objections. Nearly all my previous misunderstandings and hesitations were addressed and sufficiently answered.

The breadth of research is impressive and results in a thorough survey about how the descent relates to other vital doctrines in Christian theology and the Christian life. Emerson’s careful, but doxological writing style makes this book both educational and edifying. It is worthy to be purchased, read, and revisited.

6. The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, Fred Sanders. Very good. I am grateful for such an accessible and edifying book on the Trinity. I’ll be using this book for years to come for discipleship and to help in my own preaching ministry. I highly recommend it!

7. Christ and Calamity: Grace and Gratitude in the Darkest Valley, Harold Senkbeil. Harold Senkbeil has quickly become one of my favorite authors. It is brief, but in it he ministers to the weary with the heart of Christ.

8. Pagans and Christians in the City, Steven Smith. I don’t normally read books written by law professors, but this was worth it. Rather than commenting on its contents, I want to mention the clarity of writing. This may be one of the better written academic books I’ve ever read. He clears up the complicated and makes his analysis accessible. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to better understand the current state of the culture wars.

9. An Infinite Journey, Andrew M. Davis. This is as thorough of a book on sanctification you will find. In my opinion, Davis is a model pastor-theologian. Read this book and continue your journey in being conformed to the image of Christ.

10. Bush, Jean Edward Smith. A fascinating and accessible biography of President George W. Bush. Smith is fair, but also critical. Consider the first sentence of the preface, “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.” Smith’s cards may be a little too much on the table at times, but he is certainly worth reading. My hope is to read one presidential biography a year and i’ll be sure to watch for any written by Smith.