Top-10 Books for 2011

With today being “Cyber Monday” it may be a good time to capitalize on good book deals and sales.  While I can’t endorse the consumerism mindset that runs rampant during this time of year (post to come on that tomorrow), it may be a good opportunity to save money on books that you may have purchased anyway, or may like to purchase for the bibliophile in your family.  Below is a list of the top-10 books I’ve read this year, along with a brief description.  All of the books are available through Amazon.com which you can find at the “Recommended Reading” page above.  Just a note, a purchase from Amazon linked through this site will contribute 4% of your total sale back to this site, which will help defer the costs of operation.  So it’s win/win!

1.       Pierced for Our Transgressions – Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, Andrew Sach

This was a timely book that helped put into biblical perspective the Penal Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I’ve written a full review of it here Pierced and think the book should be mandatory reading for everyone because it deals heavily with Scripture that discusses Christ’s death, the historical understanding of this doctrine, and popular objections.

2.      It is Well – Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence

This was the book that started the major debate on this site regarding the Substitutionary nature of Christ’s atonement, namely did Christ die “for” or “in place of” anyone.  The compilation of sermons by Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence are indispensable in understanding the purposes and effects of Christ’s death on the cross.  This should be read in conjunction with Pierced for Our Transgressions to provide a well-rounded view of the atonement.  A full review has been written here: It is Well

3.      Marks of the Messenger – J. Mack Stiles

I was actually surprised about how good this book really was.  It’s short, but powerful.  In fact, based solely on readability and practical application this is the first book that should be purchased on this list.  It’s message is straightforward and not only highlights the problems within evangelicalism and the understanding of the Gospel, J. Mack Stiles offers practical solutions to ensuring the proclamation of the Gospel is the correct, biblical Gospel.  A full review can be read here: Marks

4.      Apologetics to the Glory of God – John Frame

I’m not sure if John Frame’s books should be read as an introductory book on apologetics or as an intermediate book, but nevertheless it should be read by those wanting to better understand how believers are to defend the Word of God, but also possess the knowledge to advance God’s Word into the unbelieving world.  Frame does a good job of introducing apologetics in a Christ-centered way as he argues for the existence of God and addresses the ever-controversial “Problem of Evil”.  This book is well-written and while it may take re-reading a few paragraphs to fully understand some subjects, the reader will be well-benefitted by having expanded their understanding of apologetics and if nothing else will be more confident in sharing the Gospel with unbelievers.  I’ll be writing a full review of this book soon.

5.      Holiness – J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle’s classic book Holiness addresses the many issues facing the Church today, especially in Reformed circles where the emphasis is often on right doctrine (and rightly so), but the practical aspect of living a holy and godly life is often neglected if not omitted altogether.  This book will challenge you.  It’s not for the weak or faint of heart because it puts into proper perspective the biblical imperative to be holy as God in heaven is holy.  It may take you awhile to read (as it has me), but it’s well worth it and will greatly enrich your walk.

6.      To Tell the Truth – Will Metzger

This is the second book on evangelism that I read this year and Will Metzger’s book is considered a classic, often being used in seminary evangelism courses.  Metzger rightly puts the focus of sharing the Gospel on the Sovereignty of God (much like J.I. Packer in his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God ).  He seeks to make distinction, and does so convincingly, between the man-centered gospel that is so common today vs. the Christ-centered Gospel that is rightly proclaimed from the words of Scripture.  I think To Tell The Truth is a helpful book that rightly focuses on the Gospel message and messenger.  It will be a helpful tool for engaging the unbelieving world.

7.      Scandalous – D.A. Carson

This was my first time reading D.A. Carson.  Having heard him speak a number of times, I quite expected his books to be intimidating and overly complex.  That wasn’t the case with Scandalous.  Carson sets out to accomplish the goal of magnifying the scandalous nature of the cross of Christ and succeeds.  He brings fresh insights into the passages he exposits and does a good job of fully explaining their implications.  You can read the full review of this book here: Scandalous.

 8.     Atonement – Various Authors

In case you haven’t noticed, there was a strong emphasis on Christ-centered books this year that highlighted His atoning death.  If (and it is) this is the central point of Christianity, i.e. the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, then certainly we must make all efforts to understand so that we can better know and explain what we believe.  The full review of this book is available here: Atonement 

9.      Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis

Well I have a confession.  This is my first C.S. Lewis book and it didn’t make me an instant fan, like so many of my contemporaries.  From an apologetic standpoint, Lewis makes some brilliant assertions in Mere Christianity.  However, from a theological standpoint some of his views seem tainted by his Roman Catholic background.  This is often heralded as a classic of Lewis’ but I’m not sure I can recommend it to new or young believers.  I hope to do a more complete review of it in the coming weeks. 

10.  Already Gone – Ken Ham and Britt Beemer

If you’re unfamiliar with Ken Ham, he’s the “Answers in Genesis” guy and founder of the Creation Museum, so you pretty much know what you’re going to get from a book of his.  Already Gone is no exception, only this time his view of creation apologetics and high view of Genesis is applied to the problem of youth leaving the church.  Overall I think this is a good book.  Ham and co-author Britt Beemer did their own survey of young people to see why so many were leaving the church.  The results were staggering, much like those from the National Study of Youth and Religion which Christian Smith (Soul Searching) and Kenda Creasy Dean (Almost Christian) have written on.  The thoughts from Ham’s book are good and challenging, but I’m still wrestling with the conclusion that a failure to teach creation apologetics is a significant factor in a young person’s departure from church.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it isn’t true, just that I’m wrestling over the implications.  Read Ham’s book and draw your own conclusions.

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