My Top Books of 2020
The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman
This is the most important book of the year. How did we come to the place where it is conceivable to say, “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body”? That is the question that Trueman seeks to answer in this weighty book. This is no angry screed. Nor is it a superficial gloss merely repeating conservative talking points. This is a deep dive into the philosophical and intellectual history that produced the gender and sexual chaos we are now experiencing. If you wish to understand how we got here, this essential book will be your guide.
Live Not by Lies by Rod Dreher
I may be tempted to agree with Dreher’s detractors that he is being too pessimistic or alarmist if it had not been for the last 25 years. This is essential reading. It is past time for American Christians to be thinking of themselves as dissidents in a hostile land. Dreher provides quite helpful advice on how Christians may persevere under the growing “soft-totalitarianism.”
When the Stars Disappear: Help and Hope from Stories of Suffering from Scripture (vol. 1) by Mark Talbot
This slim volume is part one of a four-part series on the subject of suffering. Dr. Talbot is qualified to write this book for a number of reasons. His knowledge of the Scriptures and personal experience come together to make one of the best books on this subject I have ever read.
Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund
I love this book. There were numerous times when I was brought to tears by the simple truths beautifully explained by the author. There is nothing sentimental about this book. Ortlund does not sacrifice the holiness and justice of God to satisfy contemporary notions of love. Rather, his robust defense of God’s righteousness makes His lovingkindness shine all the more brightly. Gentle and Lowly is a biblical, clear, compassionate, devotional meditation up the nature of our Lord. It is one of two books used in the church I serve for a congregation-wide reading challenge.
Exodus Old and New: A Biblical Theology of Redemption by Michael Morales
The author demonstrates how God used the Exodus of his people out of Egypt to establish his pattern of salvation ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Like Morales did with his excellent book on Leviticus, Exodus Old and New is filled with fresh and thought-provoking insights. Must reading for pastors, teachers, and all those who want to delve deeper into the theme of exodus in Scripture.
The Trinity: An Introduction by Scott Swain
A Place to Belong: Learning to Love the Local Church by Megan Hill
This is one of the best introductions to the meaning, purpose, and work of the church that I have read. Indeed, I cannot think of a better popular level treatment of the subject. The chapter on elders brought me to tears. A Place to Belong is one of two books used this year by the church I serve as a congregation-wide reading challenge.
Bavinck, A Critical Biography by James Eglinton
What About Evil? A Defense of God’s Sovereign Glory by Scott Christensen
The so-called problem of evil holds that there is a profound dilemma that the existence of evil presents to the legitimacy of belief in God. Christensen has given us a big, thoughtful, biblical, theological, and philosophical defense of the classical and reformed defense of God’s goodness and justice. Don’t let the size of the book intimidate you. It is a readable treatment for the thoughtful reader. What About Evil? has earned a place on the shelf for anyone wanting to think biblically about this weighty subject.
Why Social Justice is not Biblical Justice by Scott David Allen
The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ariel Sabar delves into the 2012 debacle of the so-called “Gospel of Jesus Wife” papyrus introduced to the world by Harvard Professor Karen King. Just one problem. It was a forgery, and not a very good one. This book reads like a detective story complete with shady characters. It is a sober warning of the power of confirmation bias.
Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker
Utterly compelling. This is the tragic but not hopeless story of the Galvin family who lived through the nightmare of severe mental illness. Six of the ten Galvin sons were diagnosed with schizophrenia. This is the story of the price of mental illness upon a family. Through extensive interviews and research, the author weaves together the Galvin’s story with the efforts to find a medical solution to this dread illness.