I try to read a lot. This is hard work for me as I am not naturally a geek. The biggest frustration for me is reading a book which is junk so I am constantly getting suggestions of good books to read. With that in mind here are the best books I have read in 2011. Note that some of them were published before 2011 and these are in no particular order.
Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins. This is a book every leader should read. In it Collins takes a look at what things great companies do by choice. The results are very surprising and sometimes counter intuitive. There is much to be learnt from this book!
Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership by John Dickson. Another book all leaders should read. It is different from C.J. Mahaney’s book on humility because Dickson writes about humility from a historical point where as Mahaney writes how humility springs out of the gospel. But, this is not some dry historical survey of an idea for there is much food for thought about the importance of humility for leadership and life.
The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach: Help from Trusted Preachers for Tragic Times. Bryan Chappel ed. This is a collection of sermons written on difficult topics like abortion, suicide, child abuse, Sept. 11, etc. Some of the contributors include John Piper and Tim Keller. This is an amazing resource for anyone who preaches. Buy it for your pastor for Christmas!
Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill Wesley Hill is a gay man who is also a Christian and because he is a Christian he is not sexually active. This book goes though some of his life which is told beautifully. What is really great about this book is the theology in it. He gives people great hope as he explores this theology and how it relates to sexuality and singleness. I wish every Christian could read this book. Yes it is that good!
Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page by Larry Osborne. Sticky teams deals with leadership in the church. But this is no theological treatise on leadership in the church, it is a book which outlines how to get leadership, staff and congregational alignment. It is full of humour and great practical advice. Both the elder board and women’s ministry team at Resolved are reading this book together in the new year.
Justification and Variegated Nomism: The Paradoxes of Paul Carson et al eds I preached through Galatians earlier this year so I dipped into a fair bit of Pauline theology. This book is not a light read as a lot of the arguments go into the Greek text of the New Testament. It argues for the traditional view of Justification by faith alone in a way which shows that this is not a Lutheran idea but it springs from the text of the bible. It also points out where New Perspective authors are helpful and where they are not. If you have been to Bible College and you are going to preach through Romans or Galatians by this book and read it!
Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics by Stephen Westerholm. Here is another book which deals with the related problems of Paul, the law and justification. In this book Westerholm outlines the major strands of thought regarding these issues and then in the second half of the book seeks to define what Paul meant by Law, righteousness, grace etc. A very clear a brilliantly written book. If you want a primer about where scholars land on these issues or you are confused about issues related to Paul and the law buy this book and read it!
He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World by Al Mohler. This a great book about preaching. It is not a primer on how to preach rather it outlines theologically what we are trying to do as preachers. The chapter entitled “the Preacher as theologian” is worth the price of admission alone.
Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context by David Instone Brewer. Having not done hard work on the related topics of divorce and remarriage I picked up a few books on the issue. This book stood far above the pack. Its aim is to exegete every passage of the bible which pertains to the topic. It is an extremely rewarding book to read on these very important topics.
Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity by Lauren Winner this is probably my favourite book on sex. It is real, biblical and very practical. It is a book which is written by a woman who became a Christian in her early twenties and then got married later. In the book she outlines how she thinks theologically and practically about a raft of issues related to sex and relationships. A great book to buy and read if you are preaching on Sex and relationships any time soon or if you want a great book on sex.
What were your favourite reads of 2011?