Bookworms everywhere have already posted their favorite books of 2013, so I’m late. I also didn’t read much last year (only 35 books), so a top ten list is not warranted; I have three standout, hands-down favorites from last year.
- I love systematic theology; but I don’t generally read newcomers because there are so many great classic works in addition to Grudem’s reigning contemporary introduction. However, Michael Bird‘s Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction caught my attention right away and ended up being my favorite book of 2013. It is unique in the world of introductory systematic theology texts because “the beginnings, boundaries, and interpretive glue are determined by the evangel,” because it is richly canonical and creedal, and because the author allows his sense of humor to come through the text in a way that is uncommon (and refreshing) for theology books. Accessible as an introduction yet stimulating for those well-read in systematic theology, this is a volume every evangelical will enjoy and benefit from. Full review here.
- I’ve loved apologetics for almost as long as I’ve been a Christian, but I’m newer to the presuppositional school. Van Til can be daunting, and in Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith K. Scott Oliphint has provided a significant contribution by bringing Van Til to the masses in a highly accessible and intensely practical package. This book should be the “go to” primer/introduction on presuppositional (or “covenantal,” the alternate name Oliphint advocates for) apologetics. Full review here.
- My favorite locus of systematic theology is soteriology, and I love the Westminster/Old Princeton tradition. So naturally, Richard Gaffin’s By Faith, Not By Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation was a delight for me to read. A masterful summary of Pauline soteriology and ordo salutis firmly rooted in Reformation theology and the Vos/Ridderbos tradition of biblical theology, this little book packs a huge theological punch. Full review here.
- Antinomianism: Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest? by Mark Jones. Debates surrounding law versus grace are alive and well in our day with much confusion surrounding sanctification. There are prevalent teachings in our day with an antinomian flavor, and this is therefore a very important book that illumines the distinctions between antinomianism and Reformed orthodoxy. Full review here.
- Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors: Reading an Old Story in a New Way by Voddie Baucham. The way that we commonly read and preach the biblical narratives surrounding the life of Joseph miss the point of the story. Written at a popular level, this book helps us see the redemptive-historic significance of Genesis 37-50. Not only is this book illuminating about the gospel in the narrative of Joseph, but it models a biblical hermeneutic that can be applied to other Old Testament narratives. Full review here.
Favorite books I didn’t read last year:
There were two releases in 2013 that I was very excited about but that I didn’t have a chance to read. Had I read them, I know they would have been among my favorites (they will probably end up on my 2014 favorites list).
- The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments by Thomas Schreiner. Schreiner is rightfully renowned for his commentary on Romans in the BECNT as well as his New Testament Theology. And now he has produced this gem of a whole-Bible biblical theology. I can’t wait to read it this year.
- From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective. Amongst the doctrines of grace that I so cherish, none is more misunderstood and rejected and vilified than that of “limited atonement” (an unfortunately misleading name chosen to make a pretty-looking flower). In this 700-page team-written volume, we have what will probably become the definitive resource on definite atonement. I can’t wait to dig in.