I have a confession to make – I really enjoy reading good theology and having my thoughts challenged.
Having spoken to a number of friends, I’ve found I am not alone. So, because of that, I wanted to shout (well, write) about some of the books that have really made me think and/or challenged me personally. I pray that they may be useful to you too…
5) Get Real
When someone mentions the word ‘evangelism’, what do you think? I imagine knocking on the door of the house down my road with the massive dog. That, or I remember leaflet delivering, trying to avoid actually speaking to anyone. Leaving aside my introverted nature, ‘Get Real’ is a great book to remind us that it’s not about doing things better, or doing things perfectly – evangelism is about being real.
Inviting someone into your life, and actually getting to know someone may sound like common sense, but it’s surprising how little it happens nowadays. In this book John S. Leonard sets out a number of ways to do it, and shows it is not that hard!
If you’ve ever wanted to really think about evangelism seriously, and looking for some good tips, I’d highly recommend this book.
4) The Good God
I spent 2015 reading a lot on the Trinity. Unsurprisingly, two books on the topic have made their way into the top 5 list for this year. ‘The Good God’ by Michael Reeves is a short, fun-looking book, that is stuffed to the brim with well thought-out theology. Reeves is an expert at historical Christianity and shows how early church fathers approached the Trinity.
Countering the more-and-more common view of God not caring about us, or being a malicious, vindictive law-maker, Reeves actually shows how the goodness of God impacts everything. Once you can see this goodness, it changes how we can relate to him. No longer are do we see ourselves as slaves to a divine dictator, but instead as adopted into his loving and good family.
This book is only 130(ish) pages, so well worth picking up and working through.
3) Covenantal Apologetics
Another book that I highly enjoyed this year is ‘Covenantal Apologetics’ by K Scott Oliphint. This book intends to show how Christianity can be thought about and articulated in the public. In the book, the author challenges the reader to start with what God says about himself, rather than any other starting place. From there, and there only can we defend the faith.
As with all works on apologetics, it’s important to get the emphasis right, and Oliphint does this succinctly:
“Paul understood, as we must, that the ultimate persuader is God the Holy Spirit. It was not the persuasive cunning or caliber of his argument that would change minds and hearts in Athens or in Corinth; it was the sovereign testimony of the Holy Spirit, working by and with the Word, that would do that.”
Really fascinating, and seriously foundation changing.
Call it a coincidence, but the number 2 spot last year was held by a book called Futureville by Skye Jethani. This year, he has taken the same spot again with his older book ‘With’.
This book takes the different positions we can take to God (‘life from’, ‘life over’, ‘life under’ and ‘life for’) and shows them to be bankrupt. Once he’s done, he then proposes that we need to get back to living life ‘with’ God. This book is a challenge to all Christians, and I can definitely say it has made me rethink the way I relate to God.
1) Simply God
And that leads me on to my number 1 book of the year. As mentioned, this is another book on the Trinity. Sanlon makes the case throughout that theology needs to start with God and his nature. Because God is ‘simple’ (he is his attributes), everything else can fit into place. For example, because God is ‘all knowing’ – he has all knowledge – we can rest assured that he knows what has and will happen, and therefore trust he is in control.
To sum up his point, Sanlon makes the following statement:
“If we are to have a genuine relationship with God, we need more than correct information about him. We need more than an accurate understanding of the gospel or doctrine. We need God himself to come close to us, to dwell in our hearts and implant new desires for holiness and divine love.’”
I read this book with my pastor over the past year, and being able to discuss it was brilliant. I highly recommend it.
What were your favourite books this year, or what would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!
You can also see my reading statistics over at GoodReads: