I’m following the lead of several others who are posting their Top 10 books of 2009. I’ll start with number 10 and work down the list. Happy reading!
(10) Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional, by Jim Belcher (IVP). I didn’t always agree with Belcher’s proposed “third” or “middle” way, but he is extremely helpful in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of both emerging and traditional churches.
(9) 1969: The Year Everything Changed, by Rob Kirkpatrick (Skyhorse Publishing). Be forewarned: this book contains some raunchy language and is assuredly not a spiritual treatise by any stretch of the imagination. But for those of us who graduated high school and started college in 1969, and who continue to think of that year with more than a little nostalgia, it provides a fascinating tour of the major cultural events that transpired in “the year everything changed.”
(8) Right Time, Right Place: Coming of Age with William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Movement, by Richard Brookhiser (Basic Books). It is only fitting that in the year Buckley died (who, for many of us, has long been a towering political and social hero) a book should be written chronicling the development of the magazine he established. Far more than that, Brookhiser (still a Senior Editor at National Review), who worked closely with Buckley for several decades, provides a superb brief history of the conservative political movement in America over the last 60 years. A great read!
(7) Understanding Jonathan Edwards: An Introduction to America’s Theologian, edited by Gerald R. McDermott (Oxford University Press). Gerry McDermott, of Roanoke College, may well be the most knowledgeable and articulate Edwardsean scholar alive today. He has done all of us who love Edwards a great service by gathering this volume of 17 essays on the greatest theologian the church has ever known. Do I sound prejudiced? No, I’m just convinced!
(6) A Model of Faith and Thought: Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word, by Douglas A. Sweeney (IVP). I was thrilled to see yet another book on Edwards released this year. Here is the endorsement I wrote for Doug’s book: “I love this book! Doug Sweeney not only demonstrates the central role of Scripture in the theology and pastoral ministry of Jonathan Edwards but also provides us with a vibrant portrayal of his life and the many brilliant insights that have rightly contributed to his global reputation. Combining clarity and ease of style with a remarkable breadth of research, Sweeney has given us a treatment of Edwards that may well prove to be the standard against which all future contributions are judged. I highly recommend it!”
(5) The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, by John H. Walton (IVP). This is surely the most controversial book I read this year and one of the most challenging as well. I say “challenging” not because it is overly technical but because it proposes a reading of Genesis that is both fresh and unsettling. If you’ve grown weary of the debate between young earth six-day creationists and old earth day-age advocates, I strongly encourage you to read Walton. You may not agree with him but you won’t be bored!
(4) Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again, by John Piper (Christian Focus). It would be a strange list, indeed, were there not at least one Piper book included! This is the most biblically grounded and theologically solid treatment of the new birth that you’ll ever read.
(3) Calvin, by Bruce Gordon (Yale University Press). In the year that we celebrated the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth, Gordon’s treatment of Calvin’s life and ministry was far and away the best of the many biographies and other books released on the great Reformer.
(2) Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion, by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck (Moody). If you really want to know what I think of this book, purchase it and read the lengthy endorsement I wrote. If you haven’t read it yet, don’t let 2009 go by without digging in deeply. You won’t regret it (even if you don’t agree with all of it!).
Drum roll please . . . . The number one book I read in 2009 is:
(1) Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and not the Problem, by Jay W. Richards (HarperOne). You may find it strange that the best book I read this year is on economics, and in particular a rigorous defense of capitalism. But in a season where our country is drifting all too swiftly in the direction of socialism, this is precisely the book everyone needs to read. You don’t need to be a scholar to understand it. Richards is clear and concise and convincing. Please don’t pass it up.