2021 in Books

One of my favorite times of the year is when prominent Christian pastors, theologians, and websites begin posting their top ten book lists. This allows me to peruse these lists in hopes to find some good books to read in the upcoming year.

In what follows, I’ll post the ten books that I enjoyed reading the most this year (in no particular order), and then I’ll post a link to top ten book lists from other pastors, theologians, and websites. My list will include books from any particular year, while other people’s lists will usually pertain to books that were published in 2021. My hope is that you’ll find some good Christian books to read throughout 2022 that will stir your affections for Jesus.

My Top 10

Surviving Religion 101: Letters to a Christian Student on Keeping the Faith in College by Michael Kruger – Overall, I’ve been doing college and youth ministry for a little over five years. I can honestly say that I haven’t read a more important book to put into the hands of 17-25 years olds. Dr. Kruger wisely addresses topics that college professors, and our culture at large, consistently bring up to derail young people’s Christian faith. If you have children between the ages of 17-25, you’ll certainly want to buy them this book and read it along with them!

The Christian Ministry: With an Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency by Charles Bridges – When Charles Bridges (1794-1869) wrote this book in 1830, he unknowingly wrote a definitive work on pastoral ministry. Throughout the years, I’ve read many books on Christian ministry that deal with the call to ministry, the qualifications of being a pastor, pastoring, and preaching. This book, however, outranks them all. If you’re a pastor, or an aspiring pastor, then you need to take time to read through this book (even the footnotes are field with treasure!).

The Glory Now Revealed by Andrew Davis – In this book, Andy Davis gives his readers a foretaste of heaven. In doing so, he focuses in on the topic of heavenly memories. Essentially, he is addressing what we’ll remember when we have resurrected hearts, minds, and bodies. He argues against heavenly amnesia (where we won’t remember anything), and he argues for a robust remembrance of all that happened in this life. As we live our days on the New Earth, we will not be omniscient. Therefore, the triune God will masterfully educate us in all that he did during our time here to bring Himself maximum glory.

He will unveil his providential governance of human history, the workings of the spiritual realm, well-known heroes from church history, unknown and obscure heroes from church history, why we suffered in this life, and so on and so forth. This is a thought provoking book that makes us increasingly interested in what God plans to reveal to us when He comes back to establish a New Heaven and a New Earth. And since many Christians conceive of heaven as a disembodied existence where we’ll skillfully play harps to the glory of God with little knowledge of people we knew in this life, this is an important book to read. It will correct many of contemporary Christianity’s misconceptions about heaven.

Christianity & Liberalism by J Gresham Machen – This book was originally published in 1923. Since then, it has been named one of the top 100 books of the millennium by World magazine and one of the top 100 books of the 20th century by Christianity Today. In this work, Machen sets orthodox Christianity against Christian liberalism in hopes to reveal that Christian liberalism isn’t really Christian! And since liberal theology is still taught and widely promoted, Machen’s voice still needs to be heard. With this in mind, I encourage you to buy this book, begin reading it, and discover more about the difference between orthodox Christianity and Christian liberalism.

Yours, Till Heaven: The Untold Love Story of Charles and Susie Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes Jr. – I’m a lover of all things Spurgeon. Because of this, I was eager to read Ray Rhodes’ newest book that takes a close look at Charles and Susie’s love story. Let’s just say that I wasn’t disappointed. Both Charles Spurgeon and Susie Spurgeon are fascinating individuals. They just seem so well-rounded in the Christian faith. This becomes particularly evident when you look at their marriage. And as I read this book, I couldn’t help but desire to better love my wife. Perhaps MacArthur said it best when he recommeded this book saying:

There are many books that tell us how to have a good marriage. But here is something unique: a book that shows us what such a marriage looks like. . . Husbands and wives will do well to read this book and emulate the loving marriage of Charles and Susie Spurgeon.

The Death of Death in the Death of Christ: A Treatise in Which the Whole Controversy about Universal Redemption is Fully Discussed by John Owen – I tried to read this book a long time ago but I lacked the mental capability! This year, however, I picked it up and worked my way through it (though I still lacked some mental capability!). And, as was expected, it was a brilliant argument for definite atonement. Though this is a very difficult read by a brilliant Puritan, it deserves to be read by both advocates of definite atonement and opponents of definite atonement. Advocates of definite atonement ought to read it because Owen gives us a great example on how to refute arguments for general atonement with biblical texts. Opponents of definite atonement need to read it because Owen’s arguments in favor of definite atonement are hard to refute.

William Carey by S Pearce Carey – William Carey (1761-1834) is largely regarded as “the father of modern missions.” S Pearce Carey was his great-grandson. In 1923, S Pearce Carey wrote this phenomenal biography of his great-grandfather, William Carey. And it is my personal opinion that well-written biographies of faithful Christian missionaries are the most soul-stirring books any Christian can read. This is most certainly the case with this biography. As you read about Carey’s heart for the nations, his relentless work and toil, his endurance through suffering, and his genius in translation, you’ll thank God that He sent this faithful laborer to Calcutta in 1793 to advance the kingdom of Christ.

Becoming Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn – I really enjoyed this biography on Elisabeth Elliot. I’m just going to let the back of the book speak here:

Elisabeth Elliot was a young missionary in Ecuador when members of a violent Amazonian tribe savagely speared her husband Jim and his four colleagues. Incredibly, prayerfully, Elisabeth took her toddler daughter, snakebite kit, Bible, and journal . . . and lived in the jungle with the Stone-Age people who killed her husband. Compelled by her friendship and forgiveness, many came to faith in Jesus.

Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray – John Murray (1898-1975) originally published this book in 1955. Since then, this book has been both very popular and highly recommended. Speaking about this book Carl Trueman says, “The book you have in your hand is a miniature masterpiece of theology, dealing reverently on every page with matters of great theological significance.” I think Trueman is right. Throughout the pages of this book, Murray will give you a more robust understanding of the atonement and how it is applied.

Men and Women in the Church: A Short, Biblical, and Practical Introduction by Kevin DeYoung – I’ve found Kevin DeYoung to be a reliable Christian voice that’s always clear, succinct, and biblical. In his newest book, he once again demonstrates these characteristics that I’ve come to appreciate so much. With that said, here’s a brief look at what to expect when you read this book:

There is much at stake in God making humanity male and female. Created for one another yet distinct from each other, a man and a woman are not interchangeable―they are designed to function according to a divine fittedness. But when this design is misunderstood, ignored, or abused, there are dire consequences.

Men and women―in marriage especially, but in the rest of life as well―complement one another. And this biblical truth has enduring, cosmic significance. From start to finish, the biblical storyline―and the design of creation itself―depends upon the distinction between male and female. Men and Women in the Church is about the divinely designed complementarity of men and women as it applies to life in general and especially ministry in the church

Other People’s List

The Gospel Coalition’s 2021 Book Awards

21 Top Biblical Counseling Books of 2021

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s List

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s List

World Magazine’s List

The London Lyceum’s Top Books of 2021

More people and websites will post their lists. I’ll add their lists to this blog as they do so!

Counsel from John Stott

Since we are talking about books, here’s a quote from John Stott that I love. I hope it encourages you:

For there is something unique about books. Our favorite books become very precious to us and we even develop with them an almost living and affectionate relationship. Is it an altogether fanciful fact that we handle, stroke and even smell them as tokens of our esteem and affection? I am not referring only to an author’s feeling for what he has written, but to all readers and their library. I have made it a rule not to quote from any book unless I have first handled it. So let me urge you to keep reading, and encourage your relatives and friends to do the same. For this is a much neglected means of grace.

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