Results tagged “book recommendations” from Reformation21 Blog

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ"
Philippians 3:8

Do we live as described by the Apostle Paul above or has our love lost its fervor? As Christians we are commanded to know Jesus. Commanded to do that which is a glorious privilege. And this for our own good, so we may grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ to His glory. 

Inspired by J.I. Packer's Knowing God, which had a considerable impact on his life, contributor Mark Jones endeavors to give God's people a glimpse of the person of Christ in his new book, Knowing Christ.  Mark wrote this book "for God's people, not the academy." The goal of this book according to its author "is to look at the person of Christ and give readers - particularly those in the church - a reason to love him more."

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has several copies of Knowing Christ to give away. Sign up to be in a drawing or purchase at

"This is a work that will serve the church permanently in helping readers 'to know', whether much better or for the first time, 'the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge'. I commend it most highly." -Richard Gaffin

Text links:
Reformation 21
Reformed Resources - Knowing Christ
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The Top Ten Books that I Read in 2014

This is the time of year when book lists come out. Mine is a little less ambitious than others in part because I don't try to confine my reading to what is new. Sometimes I go on "kicks" where I'll read a lot on a particular topic (this year, it was Scottish history and theology). However, I finished 52 books this year (and started many that I didn't finish); this is the best of what I read in 2014 (in the order in which I read them, with the exception of Keller--explanation below):

1. Rory Muir, Wellington: the Path to Victory, 1769-1814.
I thoroughly enjoyed this first volume in a two-part biography of the Duke of Wellington. Muir not only relayed Wellington's genius as a military commander during the Iberian Campaign, but also helped me feel as though I knew Wellington as a result. Looking forward to the second volume when it comes out in spring 2015. 

2. Heath Lambert, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace.
I'm constantly on the lookout for books that will be helpful for ministry. And especially in our current day, where countless men struggle with internet porn, this book is a wonderful Gospel-centered resource that I've used already several times with others.

3. David Robertson, Magnificent Obsession: Why Jesus is Great
While I didn't particularly enjoy The Dawkins Letters, I did thoroughly enjoy, appreciate, and recommend this book. Robertson not only answers objections raised by Christopher Hitchens, but has provided a winsome defense of the doctrine of Christ in ten useful letters. Both of my teenage children have read this. Very, very good--it is one of two evangelism books that I use (with Keller's Reason for God).

4. Robert Crawford, Of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
I have never been to Scotland--but I felt like I was there, exploring these two cities in Crawford's books. In fact, I had Google Maps on my iPad in satellite view, figuring out where everything was, reveling in the histories and stories and anecdotes, wishing that somehow I could see it all some day. Very enjoyable. 
5. Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement.
I read a lot of Donald Macleod this year. I have never read a theologian who made me worship until I read Macleod. Even Calvin and Edwards, whom I revere and love, did not move my heart and shape my mind quite like reading this particular book. 

6. Ann Patchett. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.
I'm a fan of good writing--and this is a beautiful book. A collection of short stories by one of the best selling novelists of our times, Patchett's brokenness and hopefulness comes through the stories. But just the way she uses words and tells stories--much to admire.

7. Steven Garber, Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good.
8. Tim Keller, Prayer: Experience Awe and Intimacy with God
I've put these two together because I've already mentioned these books here and here so I won't re-promote them. But they are still good. 

9. Bradley Gundlach, Process and Providence: The Evolution Question at Princeton, 1845-1929.
This is, quite simply, one of the most brilliant books that I've ever read. And it mystifies me that it has gotten exactly zero notice from evangelicals, especially compared to recent books on George Whitefield and Billy Graham. Gundlach surveys this very difficult topic with a sure hand. Not only does he write beautiful prose--clearly, coherently, gracefully--and not only does he advance the ball historically by covering the topic, clarifying misunderstandings, offering sure interpretations, and correcting previous scholarship: he also offers a profound historical meditation on science and evangelical religion that is desperately needed in our day. 

10. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography.
I feel ashamed, as a church history professor, to have to list this book. No doubt I should have read it before--but I'm glad that I read it now. This is so well-written, so clear, so thoughtful about Augustine as a Roman African and the role Africa played in his theology and ministry; the interaction between theology and philosophy; and his own theological development. I'm glad that I finally have this under my belt.

So there you have it: the top ten books that I have read in 2014. There were many other things that I've read, including books that I have shown up on other lists, but these were my favorite books of the year. 

A Thoroughly Reformed Book on Prayer

This morning, I finished reading Tim Keller's new book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. I very much appreciated the book--I read it a chapter at a time during my morning worship times and found myself reminded of much that I knew, but also spurred on toward a genuine engagement with God through prayer. It was hugely encouraging, thought-provoking, and insightful (and the discursive endnotes are mini-treatises not to be missed).

The thing that particularly struck me about the book was how thoroughly Reformed it was. That shouldn't be a surprise to those who really pay attention and who have recognized how well Keller popularizes our Reformed tradition. Still, this book was a distillation of several Reformed sources on prayer: John Calvin (along with his Lutheran friend, Martin Luther), John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, and especially the Westminster Standards. 

And from these impeccable Reformed guides, Keller emphasizes that Word and Spirit combine together as we pray: our praying is rooted in the Bible. Not simply Bible study, but meditation upon Scripture provides the material for our praying. The Psalms, especially, serve as a kind of prayer book that, along with the Lord's Prayer, offer guidance; praying but also singing these psalms are a way to be shaped even as we pray. And yet, this praying is not simply intellectual; rather, our hearts are engaged as we pray and our affections moved so that we come to enjoy God. All of these themes come directly from the Reformed tradition.

In fact, this book was so Reformed at points, I couldn't help but wonder what a non-Calvinist Southern Baptist, United Methodist, or even Roman Catholic who bought this book at Barnes and Noble or on Amazon would make of it. At one level, I think they would find the best of our theological tradition on display--its fine balance of heart and head. And they would find it to be winsome and attractive: hardly anyone presents the outlines of the Reformed faith in a more winsome fashion than Keller. That said, I wondered how they would take the repeatedly references to Reformed bona fides

On the other side of things, I also wondered about those who for a variety of reasons have criticized Keller for not be Reformed enough. What would they make of the repeated references to Calvin and Owen, the appeals to the Westminster Standards, the clear teaching on repentance? How can Reformed critics not see that this is an excellent book that is distilling and popularizing our tradition in the best way possible? 

Tim Keller's Prayer takes its place among the very best Reformed books on the topic--no, check that. It is one of the best books on prayer, period. It is one to which I will return year-by-year as a benchmark for my own praying as my heart and life is Reformed according to Scripture.