When Luke was born earlier this year I knew I would not read at the pace of previous years. Newborn life is a joyful, but tiring life and the first six months of his life were tiring indeed. I am still grateful for the opportunities I did have. Few things bring me as much joy as sitting alone with a book in my hands and a cup of coffee by my side. If I were not busy writing this I would be reading my most recent purchase, The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism.
As a top ten list, this does not include everything I read this year. I was in and out of John Gill’s magnum opus, A Body of Doctrinal Divinity. I read the vast majority of Michael Bird’s Evangelical Theology as I prepared outlines for Sunday Evening Theology at HBC. I read the vast majority of the Exodus commentaries by Christopher Wright and T.D. Alexander for sermon preparation and monographs by L. Michael Morales and W. Ross Blackburn. I read numerous journal articles, online pieces, and newsletters (especially Digital Liturgies ) to my benefit. I also read for the third time Mark Dever’s classic Nine Marks of a Healthy Church with some brothers from my church.
I always have minor regrets at the end of the year. I don’t read nearly enough fiction and literature (this year not any) and my non-fiction reading consists mostly of biblical and theological studies. I wish I could say I’ll read more widely next year, but I’m seriously considering reading nothing but my Bible and John Webster in 2023.
I hope you’ll consider purchasing and reading one of the wonderful volumes below! I am confident you will enjoy them as much as I did.
The Top Ten
Biblical Reasoning, Bobby Jamieson & Tyler Wittman. This is without question one of the most helpful books I have ever read. Jamieson and Wittman clarify confusing but common interpretive problems by equipping readers to interpret the Scriptures in a way that is befitting of God. They offer clear principles for interpretation that build upon each other. This book is a doctrinal and doxological delight!
Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition, Craig Carter. We didn’t realize it, but many of us were taught to read the Bible through the eyes of the enlightenment. We would have never claimed to share the hermeneutics of modernity, but that was our practice. Carter helps his readers interpret the Bible with the communion of the saints throughout church history. The result is an orthodox, trinitarian, and Christological reading of Scripture that aims to behold the glory of God in Jesus Christ. It is necessary reading for any serious student or teacher of the Bible.
Spurgeon the Pastor, Geoff Chang. I purchased this book on a whim while skimming the shelves at a bookstore on my birthday. I began reading it that night and could not put it down. Chang has provided pastors with a thorough and accessible treatment of Spurgeon’s pastoral ministry. When faithful examples are in such short supply, this account of Spurgeon’s ministry will encourage pastors to maintain their Baptist convictions and believe in the Spirit’s work through the ordinary means of grace. It convinced me that reading Spurgeon’s two-volume biography will most certainly be worth the effort. I hope Chang’s book is under the tree of every pastor this Christmas.
Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands: Recovering Sacrament in the Baptist Tradition, Michael A.G. Haykin. Despite some diversity throughout Baptist history, Haykin shows persuasively that there is a rich theological heritage in Baptist ecclesiology for viewing the ordinances (sacraments) as means of grace. Haykin gives an essential survey of that heritage. It’s mandatory reading for Baptist pastors wanting to deepen their congregation’s understanding of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. His concluding theses are worth the price of the entire book.
You’re Only Human, Kelly M. Kapic. A masterful and accessible work of theological anthropology. Kapic helps readers better understand themselves by exegeting their burdens and reassuring them of God’s love, presence, and acceptance in Christ through the gospel. He answers questions readers often ask themselves but might be hesitant to admit to others. Kapic’s reflection on God’s love for his people is particularly edifying in this regard. Because of this, it is both a serious reflection on the theological anthology and an exemplary model of pastoral soul care.
The Mystery of Christ, His Covenant, and His Kingdom, Samuel D. Renihan. A really insightful introduction to Baptist covenant theology. I read it after Nehemiah Coxe’s Discourse of the Covenants to help clarify my understanding of 1689 Federalism. My understanding of the covenants aligns mostly with progressive covenantalism, but I confess to desiring a convictional confessionalism. I am not yet convinced my understanding of the covenants is radically inconsistent with the Second London Confession, but I want to remain teachable. There are important distinctions, but they are often exaggerated. As of now, I’m fine departing from the confession where I believe Scripture leads me to do so. That said, Renihan’s treatment is the kind of book that could persuade a teachable person to change his mind.
The Glory Now Revealed: What We’ll Discover about God in Heaven, Andrew M. Davis. This is not your ordinary bestseller on heaven. It is a serious theological reflection on Scripture centered on the glory of God in redemptive history. Heaven, according to Davis, is an eternal education in the glory of God. The redeemed will retain their memory in heaven while also growing in their understanding of God’s works in the world. It is accessible, soul-stirring, and hope-inducing.
Deacons: How they Serve and Strengthen the Church, Matt Smethurst. I loved this book. I purchased a copy for each of our deacons the moment I finished it. The Lord has already used it to bless our church. In my opinion, it is the most biblical and accessible book on the office of deacon in print.
The Baptism of Disciples Alone, Fred Malone. A thoroughly biblical and theological treatment of credobaptism. Consider this endorsement by Timothy George, “Fred Malone presents the best case I have seen for believers’ baptism from a covenantal perspective.” Sometimes an endorsement can sell a book and Dr. George’s words were enough to sell this volume to me! Malone proved him correct. Its strength is its analytical argumentation and clear organization. I’ll return to it throughout my ministry as I teach baptism to the saints at HBC.
Elders in the Life of the Church, Phil Newton. This is a practical guide on the plurality of elders from an experienced pastor. The details that Newton provides about his time at Capitol Hill Baptist Church are fascinating! Any pastor in the midst of revitalization should prioritize this book because it includes both the biblical case for a plurality of elders and a practical plan to make the transition in a local church.