This year, I have done more reading than I probably ever have before...well, reading on my own time that is. My dad always had my brother and I reading book after book after book, and frankly, we couldn't stand it...we would rather have played our Nintendo's and XBoxes wasting our time all in the name of "fun". It seems like more recently, the opposite has taken precedence. This Christmas, as I watched my brother glancing through his new MacArthur Bible Commentary, and as I found myself turning through the pages of Leon Morris' 'The Atonement' early Christmas morning, it hit me....God has truly done a regenerating, new heart and new spirit working within the both of us. Not that we weren't saved or hadn't been living for Christ prior to our new found reading habits, but this new found love for reading and searching the scriptures and books pertaining to them was just evidence that something new had happened within us. Reading has become a love, a pastime...something to pull me away from the addictions that come with the TV, Facebook, and the many other distractions that only serve at times to keep me from reflecting upon the glorious truths in God's Word.
Furthermore, these are the ten most influential books that I have read this year. Their effect upon me has shaped me as a disciple of Jesus Christ and through re-readings, and application, I hope that they will continue to increase my learning and knowledge of Him.
10. God's Passion for His Glory - John Piper
Excellent book! Half Piper-Half Edwards. I learned more about both of these men of God and their journey to glorify God in all things. Edward's work on "The End for which God Created the World" is a very hard read - but I recommend reading his scriptural defense before reading the philosophical defense.
9. Justification and Regeneration - Charles Leiter
If I were a university professor, and were teaching a class on regeneration - this would be the textbook. Great illustrations and explanations of justification. One of the best books on regeneration I have read thus far.
8. Finally Alive - John Piper
I read this book online through DesiringGod.org and I couldn't put it down....or click on another page if you will....this book and the sermon series that produced this book was awesome! A wonderful book on what it means to be "born again".
7. The Holiness of God - R.C. Sproul
Classic. The chapters on Luther's experiences are some of the best writings on the holiness of God that I have ever read.
6. A Body of Divinity - Thomas Watson
Watson's style of writing is full of illustrations and similes that break down the great doctrines of scripture for an easier understanding. The Body of Divinity is a great catechism that has helped me to grasp a summary of the great doctrines in the Bible and it will definitely be a yearly read for me in the future.
5. The Jesus You Can't Ignore - John MacArthur
I was perhaps the most excited about reading this book. I couldn't wait for its arrival, and once it arrived - although I planned to read it next year - I jumped straight into it after reading the introduction. MacArthur in this book discusses the Jesus who confronted and at times initiated the hard situations that he encountered in the Gospels. I learned from this book that although it is never good to be the cause of strife or contention, when issues and errors arise that bring these elements, they must be confronted and counteracted with truth. Jesus never backed down or "played nice" with His enemies. Yes, he loved the Pharisees and extended the gospel to these men, but He never watered down His message, nor ceased to call them out when necessary. In this post-modern world that we live in today that runs from confrontation and softens truth, we can learn from the Jesus of the Gospels that as Christians, we must be ready to confront error and defend truth - in the most loving way as possible, yet with firmness and boldness that will strike the hearts of the hearers.
4. The Mystery of The Holy Spirit - A.W. Tozer
The last time I read a book on the Holy Spirit, it was nothing like this one. This book greatly helped me to understand and truly see, through the light of Scripture, who the Holy Spirit is, what He does, and why He is here. Tozer confronts the errors about the Holy Spirit, and the mistakes that many make by being 'scared' of Him. I really recommend this book by Tozer for a summary of who the Holy Spirit is.
3.The Faithful Preacher- Thabiti Anyabwile
Ive always been intrigued by African-American history, I love it. I really believe it is something that everybody should know about. As a race of people, like all others, we have a very beautiful history. As I've become more reformed, all the testimonies and biographies of great men that I have read have all been of European descent, white, or of other ethnicity. Before I found this wonderful book, I hadn't really heard of many great black ministers who were reformed in their theology, holding solely to the scriptures and seeking the glory of God in all things. From the history that I have learned in the past, it seems as though most of our leaders are "black first"and then the view of God and the scriptures comes second. Thabiti Anyabwile has done a wonderful job in introducing me to these 3 men of God. What I've learned from this book is that God is faithful to reveal himself to both the fathers of church history, the reformers and also to the slave who found himself in a country he was not familiar with. A high view of God and the Scriptures, proper theology and a sound education to back both was what each of these men possessed and I am truly thankful to both God and Pastor Anyabwile for revealing the lives of these men at this time. The Faithful Preacher has been a window for my young eyes to see through and appreciate these men who were both men of God and ancestors and this book has been a wonderful eye-opener.
2. May We Meet in the Heavenly World: The Piety of Lemuel Haynes - Thabiti Anyabwile
"The Faithful Preacher" introduced me to 3 great men of God from the African-American community, but out of these three men, one man captivated me in a way that no other preacher from the past has. In Lemuel Haynes, I found a mentor, a friend, and an example. Haynes served in ministry for over 60 years and many of those years were spent laboring at one church in Rutland, Vt. Haynes has greatly impressed upon me because he has the mind of an Edwards, with the persuasion of a Whitfield when one is reading his sermons. I have never seen eternity and judgment so clearly and so imminent as I have in reading Haynes' sermons. Haynes was a staunch defender of the doctrines of grace, and very reformed in his theology presenting straightforward, truthful views about the sovereignty of God and His providence that most in his day simply watered down. Everyday in this man's life was ministry. He was a wonderful husband, father and minister, and the most amazing part about his life is that this black man, pastored and all white congregation for over 30 years....in the late 1700's and mid 1800's in America. That is truly outstanding! You will definitely see more posts and quotes from Haynes' on this site in the near future....look for them!
1. The Decline of African American Theology - Thabiti Anyabwile
I guess it's no coincidence that my top 3 books this year have all been by Anyabwile, they all focus on African-Americans and they all focus on the reformed faith of African Americans. Come February 2010, Ill have alot to talk about... Let's just say that I devoured this book! I loved it. From the moment it came in the mail, I opened it, and never put it down for 3 days. I had read the introduction and first chapter online months before and I HAD to have the book. The Decline is a wonderful survey of African American theology from the beginnings of slavery to the present postmodern days. Although the book is a survey and a summary of African American theology, its(theology's) progression doesn't move in a linear fashion....it declines. I can truly say that this book has been the most influential book this year, simply because it has helped me to see the reality that, unfortunately, in slavery many more blacks had a God-centered Christianity: focusing on His Sovereignty, holding to His Word, and focusing on the relationship with Christ as primary; yet, in freedom, many blacks veered away from the proper theology they once had as slaves and ran towards heresies, liberation, and legalism. Things like the liberation movements, black power movements, and word-faith movements have creeped into the beliefs of African-Americans and although sincere in intent, these movements are sincerely wrong, and we can learn a lesson from our ancestors, many of them who may not have been able to read or write or even study a systematic or read a commentary, yet they knew the God of scriptures, never murmured against His providence in their slavery, and they knew that Christ was the only way to life. That is the impression that has been seared upon my heart as I read this book and I highly recommend it to all people, of any color.
More books that I have read this year**
Spectacular Sins- John Piper (re-read)
Don't Waste Your Life - John Piper
Desiring God - John Piper
The Doctrine of Repentance - Thomas Watson (re-read)
Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan (re-read)
The Reformed Pastor - Richard Baxter
A Call to the Unconverted - Richard Baxter
The Mortification of Sin - John Owen (re-read)
John Calvin - John Piper
The Atonement - Leon Morris
Fool's Gold - John MacArthur