5 Books for 2016

It’s list-making time, and I never let that opportunity go by. These are the 5 books that impacted me most in 2016.

5. C.S. Lewis: A Life – Alister McGrath

I will never look at Lewis the same way after reading this book. McGrath doesn’t put his subject on a pedestal, and though at times you feel that you are learning more about McGrath’s opinions of Lewis than of Lewis himself, this is still a fascinating and informative read.

4. Reading Revelation Responsibly – Michael Gorman
Simply the most helpful book on Revelation that I’ve ever read. Gorman doesn’t pull his punches, which may not win him friends among dispensationalists. However, this is a book which brings Revelation to life. Far from a dry academic treatment, it caused me to think about how this piece of apocalyptic literature applies to our world today.

41uk28zcbnl-_sy344_bo1204203200_3. The Righteous Mind – Jonathan Haidt
Why do intelligent people sometimes behave so irrationally when it comes to their political or religious beliefs? Jonathan Haidt has written a mind-expanding book on this subject. His insights on our “moral tastebuds” are worth the price of admission alone; you will see cultural and political discourse in a whole new light after reading them. As a Christian, I didn’t find myself in agreement with all of his conclusions, but it was always worthwhile interacting with them.

2. Jayber Crow – Wendell Berry
This unassuming novel about an ex-seminary student who becomes the barber to a small town, turned out to be one of the most beautifully written stories I’ve read in a long time. Berry’s earthy, elegiac prose almost made me want to move to the country… a big achievement on its own.  But, the true beauty of this book is the way it reflects on faith. I’ll be thinking about the conversation that ensues when Jayber takes some of his existential questions to his cranky Greek teacher for a long time…

“You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out – perhaps a little at a time.”
“And how long is that going to take?”
“I don’t know. As long as you live, perhaps.”
“That could be a long time.”
“I will tell you a further mystery,” he said. “It may take longer.”

1. A Dangerous Calling – Paul David Tripp
I found this book almost painful to read. It’s shock therapy for the times when ministry can seem like a routine. Reading it in my seventh, and perhaps most challenging, year in ministry, was like having a really experienced, brutally truthful friend speaking directly to the places I needed spoken to.  At it’s heart, Tripp’s message is a simple one…

“We must remember that there is no grace that we offer to others that we don’t at once need ourselves.”

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