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Enjoying God Blog


In the past I’ve gone beyond ten books for the year, but this time I’ve limited my list to the traditional ten. I hope you enjoy each one!

(10) Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners, by Dane Ortlund (Wheaton: Crossway), 186 pages.

In something of a sequel to his best-selling book, Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund, my former student at Wheaton College and son of one of my close friends, Ray Ortlund, has written a superb and accessible explanation of the way Christians grow deeper in holiness (it was actually released in 2021). As Dane points out, “some believers think change happens through outward improvement” while “others think change happens mainly through intellectual addition” (16). Still others think “it comes centrally through felt experience – sensory increase as we worship God” (16). He acknowledges that all three of these elements are included in Christian growth but that “change is a matter of going deeper.” To find out what that means, you need to read this book. It is short but substantive, and is destined to be included among the classics on how Christians grow in ever-increasing, ever-deepening conformity to the image of Christ.

(9) Romans: A Concise Guide to the Greatest Letter Ever Written, Andy Naselli (Wheaton: Crossway), 231 pages.

This is not a full-length commentary on Romans but a shorter guide to reading and interpreting the book. Andy does provide brief explanations of each verse and paragraph, but only so much as is needed to give the reader a grasp of Paul’s overall argument. If you have tried to study Romans before but felt overwhelmed by its depth, this excellent introductory guide is the book for you.

(8) Why Believe? A Reasoned Approach to Christianity, by Neil Shenvi (Wheaton: Crossway), 269 pages.

Books on apologetics or the defense of the Christian faith are in plentiful supply. Some are good, others aren’t. This is one of the good ones. Shenvi received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and worked as a research scientist at Yale and Duke University. This is an exceptionally good book that addresses virtually every objection to Christianity. But it does more. It provides solid and persuasive reasons to believe in the truth of the Christian faith. If you’ve never devoted much time and study to apologetics, this is a good place to start.

(7) Embodied: Living as Whole People in a Fractured World, by Gregg R. Allison (Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 260 pages.

This excellent book by my friend Gregg Allison actually was released in 2021. I should have included it in my list of best books for that year. But it is simply too good not to include it in this year’s list. Gregg concentrates on what it means to say, “I am my body.” Not, “I have a body” or “I live in a body,” but “I am my body.” The proper state of human existence, he argues, is embodiment. He calls on us to “renounce the infection of Gnosticism and its prioritizing of the immaterial/spiritual over the material/physical aspects of your life. Stop viewing your body as an instrument to use and steward like you do your time, your treasures, and your talents” (259).

Gregg calls on us to “affirm the idea, ‘I am who I am principally in virtue of the fact that I have the body I have.’ That is, realize that if you had a different body – say, that of your spouse or that of your best friend – you would be a different person altogether. Consider as truth ‘without this body I do not exist, and I am myself as my body’” (259-60).

This is a fascinating and thoroughly biblical treatment of how your understanding of your embodiment affects all of life, both in the present and hereafter in heaven. Highly recommended!

(6) Perseverance and Apostasy in the New Testament: Unpacking the Dynamic of God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility, by Dongsu Kim (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press), 985 pages.

The debate among Christians as to whether a born-again, justified-by-faith believer in Jesus can fully and finally apostatize and forfeit their salvation shows no signs of slowing down. Every so often a new book appears arguing for one or the other position. But this one is different. Kim has written what I consider the most comprehensive treatment of this issue in which he examines every biblical text in considerable detail and interacts with virtually every author who has written on the subject. His defense of the reformed doctrine of perseverance is clear and convincing. It is a massive study, extending to 985 pages. Here is the endorsement I wrote for it:

“The debate over the issues of perseverance and apostasy will likely remain in the church until the coming of Christ. Many despair of ever coming to a definitive conclusion, often contending that the biblical evidence is inconsistent and beyond resolution. Don Kim’s near-exhaustive analysis of the relevant NT texts proves otherwise. He is thoroughly conversant with virtually all contributors to this subject and his meticulous contribution will surely prove to be the standard for future dialogue. Anyone who proposes to engage with this controversial matter cannot afford to overlook this remarkably helpful and insightful book.”

(5) The Kingdom Case Against Cessationism: Embracing the Power of the Kingdom, edited by Robert W. Graves (Canton, GA: The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship), 225 pages.

This excellent collection of essays refuting the doctrine of cessationism is one more addition to the growing number of volumes that demonstrates the validity of all spiritual gifts today. It has chapters from Derek Morphew, Michael Brown, Don Williams, Graham Twelftree, and three by Jon Ruthven (taken from his doctoral dissertation), among others. Here is the endorsement I wrote for it:

“I struggle to understand how cessationism is still regarded in the church of Jesus Christ as a viable perspective on the ministry and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Numerous books and articles have thoroughly answered the objections it raises and a solid case from both the text of Scripture and church history have demonstrated the on-going validity of the Spirit’s supernatural work. The approach taken in this excellent volume isn’t necessarily new, but it does draw our attention to yet another irrefutable (in my opinion) argument for the contemporary operation of the full range of spiritual gifts. The kingdom of God is central to all that we believe about NT Christianity, not least of which is the way it bears witness to the ministry of the Spirit through the variety of charismata outlined in the Scriptures. I heartily and happily recommend this volume to everyone, especially to those beloved believers who still cling to their cessationist convictions."

(4) Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church, by Michael Kruger (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 164 pages.

My friend, Michael Kruger, President of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, has done a masterful job of describing the nature and destructive consequences of pastoral bullies in the church. Here is the endorsement I wrote for the book:

“Who would ever have thought we would reach a point in the life of the church where the adjective ‘bully’ would modify the noun ‘pulpit’? Yet, sadly, we have arrived. Michael Kruger’s new book is both urgent and timely, as the presence of domineering and abusive leaders in the local church continues to make headlines. This book is not only for pastors and elders but should be read by all Christians who care about the life and health of the body of Christ. I highly recommend it.”

(3) Is God a Vindictive Bully? Reconciling Portrayals of God in the Old and New Testaments, by Paul Copan (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic), 304 pages.

The author of Is God a Moral Monster? has written a superb sequel that demonstrates clearly that the God of the OT and the God of the NT are one and the same. You may wonder who would ever have suggested otherwise. Sadly, a growing number of professing Christians are reverting to second-century Marcionism that pits the supposed vindictive and wrathful bully of the old testament against the loving and compassionate God of the new. Copan examines a wide range of texts in both testaments to demonstrate that the God of the Bible is one, and that he is perfectly holy and just as well as gracious and kind.

Those heretical voices he identifies in the book contend that there is a world of difference between what they call the textual God (the “God” who is described in the biblical text) and the actual God (the “God” who is not fully and accurately revealed to us until the coming of Christ). Be prepared to be challenged, as Copan does not spare any detail in his exhaustive treatment of the truth about God that he contends, rightly, is consistently portrayed in both testaments of our Bible.

(2) The War on the West, by Douglas Murray (New York: Broadside Books), 300 pages.

There are two slight surprises regarding this book that may cause you to wonder why it is on my list of the best books for 2022. First, it isn’t related in the least to the Bible or theology. Second, its author is by his own admission an atheist and a homosexual. That being said, this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Murray is an associate editor of The Spectator and also the author of another best-seller, The Madness of Crowds. His argument is that “everything connected with the Western tradition is being jettisoned” (11). Or if not jettisoned, blamed. Whatever is wrong with the world, so say the critics, is the result of western culture. Murray begs to differ.

Murray’s analysis of critical race theory is one of the best I’ve encountered. Among other things he says of it:

“The hallmarks [of CRT] were there from the beginning. An absolute obsession with race as the primary means to understand the world and all injustice. The claim is that white people are in their totality guilty of prejudice, specifically racism, from birth. That racism is interwoven so deeply into white-majority societies that the white people in those societies do not even realize that they live in racist societies. Asking for proof was proof of racism” (19-20).

He demolishes everything associated with the 1619 Project and other matters related to the re-writing of history. His devastating analysis of all things Woke is worth the price of the book, as well as his response to those who argue that math, good grammar, and standardized tests (indeed, all things “objective”) are inherently racist. He has an excellent and unapologetic chapter on gratitude for what we have in the West and addresses other issues such as religion, reparations, music, and all things cultural.

Don’t let the year pass without reading Murray.

(1) What is a Woman? One Man’s Journey to Answer the Question of a Generation, by Matt Walsh (Nashville: DW Books), 253 pages.

I had never heard anyone ask this question of another person until the congressional hearing to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States. When asked, “What is a woman?” she said something to the effect of, “I can’t answer that question. I’m not a biologist.” I wish I had been on the committee conducting the interview, as I would have followed up by saying: “Ok. President Biden said he wanted to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. Are you that person?” I assume she would have answered, “Yes, I am.” To which I would have responded by saying, “So, you obviously know what a woman is. You are that woman whom the President nominated. So, since you are one, what are you? What qualifies you to be the ‘woman’ whom the President nominated?”

I don’t know how she would have answered, if an answer was even forthcoming. Matt Walsh spent nearly an entire year asking this question of doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, politicians, and transgender people, and rarely received a clear answer. Since many (most?) today draw a clear distinction between one’s sex and one’s gender, between biology and personal identity, it comes as little surprise that he labored in vain to get a clear answer to his question.

This book is nothing short of stunning. It is painful to read. I found myself getting angry with every page I read. My anger wasn’t directed at Walsh but at the insanity of our world that is endorsing the mutilation of our children and prosecuting those who dare to stand in opposition to it. The so-called “transgender” phenomenon has engulfed our society and shows no signs of slowing down. You simply can’t turn a blind eye to it any longer. And the best place for you to start is with Walsh’s book.

Actually, there may be a better place to begin. If you struggle to read a book or don’t think you have the time to work your way through 253 pages, then please watch the full-length documentary that Walsh produced. You can find it at This, sadly, is the world in which we live. Get used to not getting an answer to the question.



Sam, I have always appreciated your well reasoned and highly exegetical approach to theology. I just finished "Kept for Jesus" and loaned it out to a sister in Christ who is struggling with her wayward sibling and wondering what happened. I pray that the book will encourage her and "clear the air" for her as much as it did for me. On a side note, was wondering if you could direct me to any readable Amillenial commentaries on the book of Revelation as a whole? I would love to begin a verse by verse study of the book as I am leading a group of guys through "The Promise of the Future" by Cornelis Venema.
What a day we live in! It's sad that the top two books on your list had to be written. God, please send an awakening to our country and revival to Your Church.

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