Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Best Books I Read in 2011

My daughter got me a T-shirt from a bookstore in Washington, DC with a great slogan on the back: "So many books, so little time." Says it all, really.

Theology


1. Heavenly Participation: the Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry - Hans Boersma (Eerdmans, 2011) Boersma advocates going back to the Platonist-Christian synthesis of the Great Tradition as the way forward. Terrific reading for those who are convinced that Modernity is a dead end.

2. Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, Authorship - Kevin Vanhoozer (Cambridge, 2010). This is a substantial theological proposal from a fabulous writer. Best line in the book is: "We need a fully Christianized ontology." That is what Boersma proposed we can find in the 5th and 13th centuries.

3. Christianity and Liberalism - J. Gresham Machen (Eerdmans, 1929). I re-read this old classic this year and found it well-worthwhile. It is amazing how similar the issues are now to the ones he dealt with nearly a century ago.

4. Praise Seeking Understanding: Reading the Psalms with Augustine - Jason Byassee (Eerdmans, 2007). This is a wonderful book that gets down to a serious engagement with Augustine. If we Evangelicals don't shake off the chains of modernist, historical criticism and go back to the way the apostles and fathers read Scripture, we are all going to end up liberal.

Ethics

1. Godly Seed: American Evangelicals Confront Birth Control 1873-1973 - Allan Carlson (Transaction, 2012) Don't read this book if you hate having your nice, 20th century, Evangelical presumptions trampled.

2. True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis - Daniel R. Heimbach (Crossway, 2004). The title is in your face and Heimbach doesn't get out of your face for the next 400 pages. He never pretends that there isn't a war going on. My favorite part was him describing how they had to clean the porn out of the campus after the conservative take-over of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Fiction

1. The Father's Tale - Michael O'Brien (Ignatius, 2011). This is a wonderful novel by my favorite Canadian writer of all time. It is a modern re-telling of the parables of the prodigal son and the lost sheep. Too short at 1076 pages.

2. Father Brown - G. K. Chesterton. I find as I get older that I love to re-read books from the past that meant something to me at the time. It is fascinating to discover if they are as good as I remember them being at the time. This collection of Father Brown stories is better than I remember. What could be better on a cold Winter's evening than an overstuffed, recliner chair, a cold drink, an afghan, Bach playing in the background . . . and another case to solve with Father Brown?

So, what am I reading right now?

In connection with the book I'm writing . . .

Paul Gravilyk's wonderful The Suffering of the Impassible God: the Dialectics of Patrisitic Thought

Stanley Fowler's More Than a Symbol: The British Baptist Recovery of Baptismal Sacramentalism

Khaled Anatolios's Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine

And for fun and pure enjoyment . . .

Ian Ker's G. K. Chesterton: A Biography

1 comment:

Gordonhackman said...

Thanks for sharing this. I've been interested in more than a few of these and this list gives me the push to pick some of them up. I wish the Vanhoozer wasn't so darned expensive.