Best Books of 2021 – Part Four
Finally, the fourth and last installment in this series of articles talking about the best books of 2021. It was difficult deciding which books would make it into the top five. The first fifteen that I’ve already listed in previous articles could easily have made the final five. But enough, already. Here they are.
(5) The Glory Now Revealed: What We’ll Discover about God in Heaven, by Andrew M. Davis (Baker Books, 232pp.).
I know that there have been numerous books written about heaven, but this one, in my humble opinion, is the very best. When Andy asked me to read it and perhaps write an endorsement, I reluctantly agreed. But once I dove into it, I never looked back. Trust me. It’s great! Here is the endorsement I wrote:
“In this powerfully enlightening and hope-filled book, Andy Davis asks the question: How much heaven do you want? You may think that strange, until you’ve read his portrayal of what awaits the child of God in the age to come. This is the best and most biblical book on heaven that I’ve read, and it prompted me to shout aloud, in answer to his question, All of it!”
(4) Survival and Resistance in Evangelical America: Christian Reconstruction in the Pacific Northwest, by Crawford Gribben (Oxford University Press, 210 pp.).
Not everyone will enjoy this book as much as I did. It is a meticulous exploration of the migration to the Pacific Northwest of countless Christians who are committed, to one degree or another, to postmillennial eschatology and to the principles of what is known as Christian Reconstruction. The book focuses primarily on the church and ministry of Doug Wilson in Moscow, Idaho.
Gribben does an admirable job of describing the emergence of Theonomy and Christian Reconstruction (although they are not altogether the same), beginning with the influence of Rousas John Rushdoony and extending to the present-day influence of Christ Church and Doug Wilson in Moscow. This isn’t the first attempt to portray the nature of Christian Reconstruction. I earlier read Christian Reconstruction: R. J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism, by Michael J. McVicar (UNC Press), and Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction, by Julie J. Ingersoll (Oxford). These two books are helpful, but Gribben addresses the more recent expressions of the movement, especially as it is being lived out in the Pacific Northwest.
In his book, McVicar announced the death of Reconstruction. “But the argument of” Gribben’s book “is that Christian Reconstruction is not dead anymore” (139).
(3) Providence, by John Piper (Crossway, 751 pp.).
This could easily have been number one on my list. And yes, you read that correctly. It is 751 pages long! This is far and away the best and most comprehensive treatment of the providence of God ever written. Piper defines providence as “purposeful sovereignty.” If you have struggled with the sovereignty of God (and who hasn’t?), this is the book for you. If you have wondered how to reconcile God’s providential orchestration of history with the existence of both moral and natural evil, this is the book for you. Don’t be put off by its length. No one can read it at one sitting. Take a few months and digest it bit by bit. You won’t regret your decision.
(2) A Simple Guide to Experience Miracles: Instruction and Inspiration for Living Supernaturally in Christ, by J. P. Moreland (Zondervan, 274 pp.).
J. P. and I were classmates together at Dallas Theological Seminary in the 1970’s. I had no idea at the time that he would go on to become one of the world’s leading and most highly respected Christian philosophers and apologists. He is an active member of the Anaheim Vineyard and has written extensively on the on-going validity of spiritual gifts in today’s church.
This book is wonderful. Although J. P. and I disagree a bit on the subject of God’s sovereignty and its relation to prayer, I can recommend this book without qualification. Here is the endorsement I wrote for it:
“Whether you are still skeptical and doubt the reality of the miraculous or are a passionate proponent of the supernatural, this book is for you. With remarkable depth and clarity, J. P. Moreland brings to bear on this subject his gifting as a philosopher, apologist, theologian and student of the Scriptures. He explores with profound insight and biblical grounding such issues as the nature of the miraculous, whether we should pray for miracles, and how we might know if a miracle has happened. The specific stories of the miraculous cited in the book as well as J. P.’s personal experience will both serve you well as you explore this fascinating topic. I can’t recommend this excellent book too highly.”
OK. Drum roll please. My selection for the best book of 2021 is . . .
(1) Miracles Today: the supernatural work of God in the modern world, by Craig S. Keener (Baker Academic, 284 pp.).
Many of you may recall that Craig published two huge volumes (more than 1,100 pages!) on the subject of Miracles several years ago. In this book, Craig addresses the same issue but in a much more concise manner. The stories of miracles in this book are almost entirely new and different from the ones he shared in the two-volume masterpiece of a few years ago.
Craig spends a couple of chapters defining the word miracle and responding to those who would insist that they no longer occur (if they ever did). He has extensive medical documentation of people being healed of blindness, paralysis, cerebral palsy, leprosy, and numerous other afflictions. He has credible accounts of people being raised from the dead and a variety of nature miracles. He is unafraid to address the question of why we don’t see more miracles in the West and why some physical healings are temporary.
Whether you are already a believer in the reality of miracles today or still somewhat skeptical, this book is one that you won’t be able to put down. It is well-deserving of being placed at the top of my list of best books of 2021.