I do not get to read nearly as much as I would like. But thanks to Audible and ChristianAudio, audiobooks work well on a commute. Here are the best books I read (or listened to) in 2018. Some of them I wrote reviews for here on the Veracity blog. Consider putting one of these on your Christmas reading list (I have starred * the more scholarly books, but most of them are geared towards a popular readership):
- The Power of the Third Rail, by Jim Shaw. Short autobiography by a friend of mine, Jim Shaw, who founded the Lackey Free Clinic, who died just a few years ago. Review on Veracity.
- *The Reformation: A History, by Diarmaid MacCulloch. Started this in 2017, in time for the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, but finished the last few chapters in early 2018 (it is a big book). Hands down, this is the best book on this period, not simply in church history, but in broader European history as well. MacCulloch is not an evangelical, but he clearly loves his subject, and offers a wealth of knowledge about perhaps the most pivotal moment in Christian history. Earthly life is too short to be spent reading bad history. Scholarly, but reads like a good history book should. My reading list for the Reformation from last year is posted here.
- America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation, by Grant Wacker. Listened to this on Christmas break last year, which helped me to process Graham’s death a few months later. In many ways, we need another Billy Graham, but evangelicalism is so fragmented today, it is hard to know who would fit the bill. A Veracity review.
- Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock, by Gregory Alan Thornbury. Explains what has been American evangelical Christianity for the past forty years. If you became a Christian in the 1970s or 1980s, Thornbury will help you to make sense of those years, in particular. Simply fantastic. Reviewed here on Veracity.
- CSB Apologetics Study Bible. I must confess that I have not read the full Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation, completed in 2016, in its entirety. But the publisher of the CSB has released a whole set of different types of study Bibles, that are very useful to the student of the Bible, with very good helps along with the Scriptural texts (despite a few problems). I still lean towards the ESV as my favorite (or the NIV 2011), but the CSB is right up there. Reviewed here on Veracity.
- Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy, by the late John Julius Norwich. Read this in preparation for a trip I took with my wife to Rome, Italy, this past year. Though an erudite and fascinating writer, Norwich is an atheist, so he does not fully appreciate some of the theological subtleties he touches upon. He paints a rather embarrassing portrait of the Roman papacy (despite a few good popes here and there).
- Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians: Finding Authentic Faith in a Forgotten Age with C.S. Lewis, by Chris R. Armstrong. Written with an evangelical audience in mind, Armstrong demonstrates that the “Dark Ages” in medieval Europe were anything but dark.
- The Last Days According to Jesus, by the late R. C. Sproul. A view of the “End Times” that is contrary to what most evangelical Christians embrace, but Sproul makes a very compelling case from both Scripture, and the need for better Christian apologetics. The late R.C. calls his view a “minority report.” Reviewed here on Veracity.
- Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, by Mark Ward. Warm appreciation for the King James Version of the Bible, while rightfully rejecting the extreme of “King-James-Onlyism.” Fairly short, but packed with some gems. A perfect read for someone who loves the KJV. Reviewed here on Veracity.
- Reflections on the Psalms, by C.S. Lewis. Classic Lewis, where I regained a new love for the Psalms, reviewed here on Veracity, twice actually!
- A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War, by Joseph Loconte. All things Tolkien and Lewis, remembering the centennial anniversary of the end of the Great War. Reviewed here on Veracity.
- Four Views on Creation, Evolution and Intelligent Design, by Ken Ham, Hugh Ross, Deborah Haarsma, Stephen C. Meyer, and edited by J. B. Stump. Best single summary of the “creation debate,” all in one volume. If you want a fair treatment of the different Christian views on creation, start here. Reviewed on Veracity.
- *The Bible, Rocks and Time, by Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley. The definitive and exhaustive case for Old Earth Creationism from a geological perspective, while still being as gracious as possible towards Young Earth Creationism. My “dualist” friends may wonder, “Why bother?,” but here it is, nonetheless. Reviewed here on Veracity.
- *Augustine and the Jews, by Paula Fredriksen. Took me almost three years to get through this book (WHEW!), but it was completely worth it. Not for the faint of heart, but Fredriksen explains why relations between Jews and Christians have had a long history of being strained. If you hear Christian friends talking about so-called “replacement theology,” and you want a scholarly perspective on what the fuss is all about, read Fredriksen, who herself converted from Roman Catholicism to Judaism. Reviewed here on Veracity.
- Single Gay Christian, by Gregory Coles. If you know of someone who is wrestling with “same-sex attraction,” you should read this book, to understand how best to listen to that person, and love them with the love of Jesus. Not everyone who struggles with sexuality will have the same story as Greg’s, but it might help detractors of Greg’s view to read him more carefully. A summary of Gregory Coles’ thinking can be found here. Reviewed here on Veracity.
What do you think?