Books I Read in 2014

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Here’s my list (in the order I read):

Should You Believe in God? by K. Scott Oliphint

If you’re looking for a concise, Van Tillian like apologetics, this one helps. Only 25 pages.

The First Book of Samuel, NICOT (Intro) by David Toshio Tsumura

A good exegetical commentary on the biblical book. The author interacts with various views as many in the NICOT series do.

Numbers, TOTC (Intro) by Gorden J. Wenham

Rarely Christians understand or preachers excited about this inspired, canonical book of the Bible. Yet as the author points out one would see the glorious attributes of God, especially, through the essence of ritual and the substitutionary aspect of sacrifice. Although it is not technical as NICOT series, TOTC series do interact with others and offers helpful and concise treatment of the text in sections.

The Battle for the Beginning by John MacArthur

The subtitle implies what the book is about: “Creation, Evolution and the Bible.” Like  typical MacArthur, the book has sermonic and polemic tone. He offers thorough exegetical and theological arguments throughout. Very enjoyable read. Anyone who is planning to preach or teach on the first three chapters of Genesis should definitely consult this book.

Saving Eutychus by Gary Millar and Phil Campbell

The subtitle implies what the book is all about: “How to preach God’s word and keep people awake” (emphasis theirs).

The book was recommended to me by David Helm of The Charles Simeon Trust. All I can say is that if you (who preach) haven’t read it, you need to read it (and perhaps re-read it once a year thereafter). It is concise, yet packed with gems. Also, if you haven’t been to workshops by The Charles Simeon Trust, you need to (especially, on how to preach Old Testament narrative).

The Book of Deuteronomy, NICOT (Intro) by Peter C. Craigie

Although a number of commentaries on Deuteronomy have been published since Craigie’s work (e.g., Wright, Merrill, Block, Grisanti, etc.), this is still one of the better works. He offers helpful sections on the background, unity of composition, date and authorship, occasion, canonicity, theology, interpretive issues, and more. Definitely worth having it in your library for anyone who’s serious about studying the last book of the Pentateuch.

Numbers, NAC (Intro) by R. Dennis Cole

The author posits that the Book of Numbers has been neglected in evangelical circles. Preaching from it often has been about Balaam, the rebellious spy, or occasional reference to the Nazirite material to support a sermon on alcoholism or some other moral lessons. Rarely the book gets expounded to show the nature and work of God, especially, on his holiness and faithfulness. This book offers helpful exegetical and theological exposition on Numbers.

Leviticus, TOTC (Intro) by R. K. Harrison

As noted in the author’s preface, Leviticus is a book that is read all too infrequently by Christians – let alone hear sermons from it. Yet a closer study of the book reveals insights into the character of God, particularly his holiness. Like other commentaries in TOTC series, this commentary helps the student to understand what the text says and what it means. Moreover, the work is done by one of the highly respected Old Testament scholars in his field. A good resource to have.

The Book of Leviticus, NICOT (Intro) by Gordon J. Wenham

Unlike Harrison’s Leviticus (TOTC), this one is more technical and exegetical as in all of NICOT series. It is considered an older work in Leviticus, yet many of the newer works cite and interact with Wenham. All that to say, it is a standard exegetical work on Leviticus for any serious student.

Aliens in the Promised Land by Anthony B. Bradley (editor)

The subtitle is telling: “Why Minority Leadership Is Overlooked in White Christian Churches and Institutions.” This work is contributed by Christian leaders from African-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American communities. Racism is a hot topic. But rarely it is addressed in conservative evangelical churches. Many are oblivious it even exists within conservative Bible teaching churches, conferences, or in denominations. Here’s a book that at least helps start the conversation. Everyone (especially, white Christians and their leaders) ought to read this.

Church Planting is for Wimps by Mike McKinley

The subtitle hints what the book is all about: “How God Uses Messed-up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things.” This is a fun book. It is also painful. But you have to read it to understand. Overall, it is encouraging and hopeful. Every pastor (or lay folks) who are thinking about church planting or revitalizing needs to read this book.

Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims by Daniel R. Hyde

The word “Reformed” can mean different things to different people. It can be something pejorative or positive. In layman’s terms, the author briefly sketches the historical roots of these churches, their biblical and confessional basis, and the ways those beliefs are practiced. It is as the author points out “a road map for those encountering this new world for the first time and a primer for those who want to know more about their Reformed heritage.”

What Is Biblical Theology? by James M. Hamilton

The Bible tells a single story – one that begins at creation and will continue until Christ’s return and beyond. The author introduces this narrative and the worldview of the biblical writers so that the readers can read the two testaments as those authors intended. According to Hamilton, “Studying biblical theology is the best way to learn from the Bible how to read the Bible as a Christian should” (19-20). This book will help understand Scripture’s unified message and find your place in the great story of redemption.

Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons by Thabiti M. Anyabwile

This book explains the biblical qualifications for the two office bearers in the Pastoral Epistles. And it does so by offering practical questions in what/how to look for in the potential candidates.

What to Expect in Reformed Worship: A Visitor’s Guide (2nd Edition) by Daniel R. Hyde

If Hyde’s other book Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims gives a general picture of what a Reformed church is, then this booklet focuses specifically on what Reformed worship is like.

Beyond the Bible: Moving from Scripture to Theology by I. Howard Marshall

This book includes three scholarly essays from three notable experts in hermeneutics: I. Howard Marshall, Kevin Vanhoozer, and Stanley Porter. Marshall first offers guidance in how the Bible speaks authoritatively to contemporary issues in ethics, doctrines, and practices. The other two scholars then respond to Marshall in where they agree and disagree.

Memoirs of An Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson by D. A. Carson

This is a biographical book of D. A. Carson’s father, Tom Carson. You don’t have to be a fan of D. A. Carson to enjoy this. However, if you are a fan of faithful pastors who persevere through difficult challenges, hardships, discouragements, disappointments, and even depressions in dark times, this book will bring much encouragement and appreciation for those who faithfully serve.

The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards

In connection with the Awakening of 1735, Edwards preached a series of sermons to his congregation in 1742 and 1743 to help discern what are genuine marks of a work of the Holy Spirit and on the revival. As a result, those sermons were published in 1746 as the Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections. Edwards is challenging to read by many contemporary readers due to his wordiness and what some may perceive as circular reasoning. But if the reader can overlook those challenges, he/she will find many gems in the book.

Generous Justice by Timothy Keller

This is perhaps one of the better books on the ministry of deacons. While many Christians talk about “doing the work of justice” (so often independently or in disconnection with their local church), this book provides biblical and practical ways of doing the work in the context of their local communities through the local church.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

This is a fun book to read in helping writers to overcome issues that many face (e.g., fear, lack of motivation, etc.). It is short and easy read.

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction (25th Anniversary Edition) by William Zinsser

Unlike The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield, this book has more substance and actual how-to’s. The book is divided into four parts: 1) principles, 2) methods, 3) forms, and 4) attitudes. If you’re serious about writing well, consult Zinsser’s work. Although this book may seem like a textbook, it is easy to read.

MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response by Samuel E. Waldron

At the 2007 Shepherds’ Conference, John MacArthur delivered a controversial message entitled, “Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Premillennialist.” In this book, Sam Waldron addresses the assertions of MacArthur exegetically, theologically, and historically. Most of all, Waldon does so respectfully and graciously. A good example of how Christian debates should be – in a Christian manner.

The Legacy of John Calvin: His Influence on the Modern World by David W. Hall

In this short and easy reading, the author presents ten ways how modern culture is shaped because of John Calvin, for instance, in education, care for the poor, ethics and law, freedom of the church, politics, economic, church music, etc. The book also offers helpful biography, and mentions notable evangelicals (past and present) that have been greatly influenced by Calvin. Highly recommend this book if anyone is interested to have an easy access to Calvin.

Also, if you’re interested, here’s my list of Notable Books of the Year (2014).

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