Top Reads of the Top Reads (Part 1)

Books | Decatur Public Library

At the beginning of each year, I enjoy posting a reflection of all the books I had read and reviewed over the previous years. These “Top Reads” post have been among one of my favorites to do. Now that 2020 has come to a conclusion, I thought I would review those annual posts and collect the best of the best list.

What is striking to me is that many of the books listed below (and on the next post) were not my favorite reads of a given year, yet as the years passed, the influence of these books increased. Regardless, the following is not in any particular order and will take two posts to cover all of them.

Hillybilly Elegy by JD Vance (Review)

The best book in understanding the rural south in general and white Trump supporters in particular is this memoir by J. D. Vance. Vance provides personal insight into rural, white America – their trials, travails, and struggles. Vance lived it in both eastern Kentucky and Ohio.

This book sat on my “to read” list for far too long. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Read it now.

Beowulf by Doug Wilson (Review)

My favorite story in the history of mankind is Beowulf. Doug Wilson offers a new rendering emphasizing the phonetic sounds of the poem. Yet the real richness of the volume is the essays at the end especially his argument that Beowulf is a shrewd apologetic for the Christian faith. I think he’s right.

Sexual Morality in a Christless World by Matthew Rueger (Review)

In case you just crawled out from behind a rock, we live in a sex-obsessed, Christless culture. In this book, Matthew Rueger explores the world of the New Testament and shows that Christianity can survive and even thrive in such a sex-obsessed, Christless world. We should not fear the world we are entering. We ought to be people of faith passionate about the gospel. Rueger offers one of the best books on sexual ethics I have ever read.

The Great Evangelical Recession by John Dickerson (Part 1, Part 2)

This book was recommended to me by a group of ministry partners. It is both frightening and hopeful. Dickerson offers a real sociological take on evangelicalism in America. That’s the frightening part. He then walks the reader through where we go from here. That’s the hopeful part. This is a convicting book, but one that every pastor, Christian leader, and believer ought to consider. tole lege!

Onward by Russell Moore (Review)

The best and most important political book I’ve read is Russell Moore’s Onward. Moore, who heads the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, provides Christians with an understanding of politics and political engagement with the gospel at the center for the 21st century. Any believer serious about the gospel and how it informs our view of public policy should give this a read.

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman (Review)

This is a classic work written during the Reagan administration. I read it in college and returned to it during the 2016 presidential election. Postman has penned a prophetic volume especially if one applies his warnings to the world of digital and social media.

American Crucifixion by Alex Beam (Review)

There is perhaps no more unique religious figure in American history than Joseph Smith. This work focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on his death/murder. The author includes numerous historical insights that are key to understanding Mormons in general and Smith in particular. His chapter on the genesis of polygamy among the first generation LDS is worth the price of the book.

What Every Pastor Should Know by McIntosh and Arn (Review)

The best ministry book I’ve read is What Every pastor Should Know: Indispensable Rules of Thumb for Leading Your Church by Gary McIntosh and Charles Arn. The insight they offer is incredibly insightful and goes beyond entry-level basics of pastoral ministry (like how to perform a funeral, etc.).

We Become What We Worship by GK Beale (Review)

Beale presents a biblical theology that pierces the heart. His thesis is simple, yet profound: “At the core of our beings, we are imaging creatures. It is not possible to be neutral on this issue: we either reflect the Creator or something in creation.” (16)

Exploring J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” by Corey Olsen (Review)

One of my favorite novelists of all time is JRR Tolkien. In his book Exploring J. R. R. Tolien’s The Hobbit, the Tolkien Professor, Dr. Corey Olsen shows the beauty and power of the narrative and story. One is not a true fan of The Hobbit until they have read Olsen’s work on the subject.

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All Around the Web – January 18, 2020

Kevin DeYoung – Come, Let Us Reason Together

Deseret News – The bill that could change religious freedom as you know it

TGC – Whataboutism Is a Mark of Foolishness

John Stonestreet – Our Politics is Cracking Under the Weight of a Thinning Civil Society

F&T – 3 Ideas to Involve Church Members in Congregational Care

F&T – The Crippling Disease of Ministry Comparison

Chuck Lawless – 8 Characteristics of Missions-Minded Pastors

Cold Case Christianity – Did Jesus Really Live?

Disrn – Poll: Republicans and Democrats both agree that America is falling apart

Disrn – Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin backs idea of digitally removing Trump from “Home Alone 2”

Disrn – Report: Killing of Christians increased 60% in 2020, mostly due to Islamic violence in Nigeria

Cord Cutters News – Young Viewers Watch Almost as Much Online Video as TV Shows and Movies

Babylon Bee – Millions Kicked Out Of Heaven Following Enforcement Of New Diversity Quota

Babylon Bee – Nightmare: Here Is The Democrats’ Complete Legislative Agenda For The Next 2 Years

Babylon Bee – Conservative Homeschool Families Prep For Next Four Years By Adding Armor Plating, Gatling Guns To 15-Passenger Vans

Babylon Bee – Trump To Be Digitally Edited Out Of ‘The Apprentice’ Reruns

All Around the Web – January 16, 2020

Carl Trueman – Evangelicals and Race Theory

Open Doors – World Watch List

Christianity Today – The 50 Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus in 2021

Evangelical History – How Bad Is This Moment in American History?

WORLD – The day mobs overran the Capitol

John Stonestreet – Navigating the News in 2021 from a Christian Worldview

TGC – How Veracity Suffers in the Age of Virality

Joel Beeke (TGC) – Holiness Does Not Mean a Drab Life

Think Theology – Locked Down for 38 Years

Chuck Lawless – 10 Descriptions of a “Sweetheart Love” for Jesus

Disrn – Missouri declared the first “abortion-free” state

Disrn – Kentucky born-alive bill reaches Democratic governor again, expected to be vetoed

Disrn – U.S. executes first female inmate since 1953

Disrn – A quarter of Americans support splitting nation over increasing ideological divides

Babylon Bee – In Brilliant 4D Chess Move, Trump Tricks Media Into Condemning Riots

Babylon Bee – While Scanning For Accounts That Incite Violence, Twitter Algorithm Mistakenly Bans Planned Parenthood

Babylon Bee – Initiative: Kamala Harris Stays Up Late Working Ahead On Biden’s 25th Amendment Proceedings

Babylon Bee – Pelosi Cancels Impeachment Press Conference After Remembering She Doesn’t Have A Podium

All Around the Web – Babylon Bee Edition

We live in a Babylon Bee headline. I usually try to include no more than 4 Babylon Bee articles throughout the week in the daily “All Around the Web” posts. Yet given the upside down world we live in, they have had too much material to work with. So to stay caught up, here are several of them from the past week.

Babylon Bee – Pence Rolls Out Ambitious Agenda For First 100 Minutes In Office

Babylon Bee – Biden Says First Act As President Will Be To Impeach Trump

Babylon Bee – To Protest Siege On Capitol, Kamala Harris Helps BLM Burn Down A Target

Babylon Bee – After Being Kicked Off Social Media, Trump Forced To Go Door To Door And Shout ‘RIGGED ELECTION!’

Babylon Bee – Trump Sneaks Back On Twitter By Disguising Self As PR Rep For Chinese Communist Party

Babylon Bee – Antifa Accuses Trump Supporters Of Cultural Appropriation

Babylon Bee – Experts Say Controlling Toddler During Church Service Burns More Calories Than Going To Gym

Babylon Bee – To Avoid Tech Censorship, The Babylon Bee Announces Innovative New Print Edition

Babylon Bee – Out-Of-Work Waitress Excited To See Congress Spend Time Impeaching Trump Again

Babylon Bee – In Devastating Blow, Trump Banned From Sun Tan City

Babylon Bee – After Capitol Riots, Sesame Street Pulls All Episodes Featuring The Letter ‘Q’

Babylon Bee – Evil Fascist Dictator Censored And Voted Out Of Office

Babylon Bee – FBI Finds Buffalo Guy Grazing At Yellowstone Park

Babylon Bee – 20,000 Troops In D.C. For Inauguration Said To Not To Be Enough To Stop Trump’s Battlemech

All Around the Web – January 15, 2020

Trevin Wax – The “Evangelical” Label Doesn’t Belong to the U.S.

F&T (Trevin Wax) – Why Pastors Should Lead the Way in Praying for the New President

A Pilgrim in Narnia – How to Read All of C.S. Lewis’ Essays

Tim Challies – The Greatest Christians and the Most Visible Gifts

John Stonestreet – The Ethics of the COVID Vaccine

TGC – Our Hope Isn’t Political—It’s Christ

Chuck Lawless – 12 Reflections on 20+ Years of Church Consulting

Church Answers – Three Helpful Ways for Older Pastors to Mentor Younger Pastors

Cripplegate – The Importance of Physically Present, In-Person Church

LifeWay Voices – The Imago Dei and the Fight for Life

TGC – How to Go Deep into Bible Study without Getting Lost

Babylon Bee – Trump Close To Filling Impeachment Punch Card For Free Sub Sandwich

Babylon Bee – Nation’s Liberals Point Out That Conservatives Could Always Leave Earth, Make Free Society On Some Other Planet

Babylon Bee – Ron Paul Banned From Facebook For Inciting Dangerous Levels Of Liberty

Babylon Bee – Biden Unveils Skin Color Chart To Determine Who Gets Federal Aid

“40 Questions About Biblical Theology” by DeRouchie, Martin, and Naselli

40 Questions About Biblical Theology: DeRouchie, Jason, Martin, Oren,  Naselli, Andrew: 9780825445606: Amazon.com: Books

Since graduating from seminary with three degrees in systematic theology, I have spent an inordinate amount of time exploring biblical theology. My love for Scripture has grown immensely since focusing on themes consistent throughout the Bible.

In their book, 40 Questions About Biblical Theology, authors Jason DeRouchie, Oren Martin, and Andy Naseli explore the general aspects of biblical theology as well as exploring specific themes throughout Scripture.

I have read several volumes in the “40 Questions” series. All of them have been excellent and contributed to the field of Biblical and Theological Studies. This volume is no different. The format and approach to each subject makes for insightful reading. I have learned as much from these volumes as most others.

Compared to other volumes, however, this book is perhaps more dense. Perhaps this is a matter of perception and not reality. Perhaps what I thought the book would be is informing my opinion here. I hoped for more explorations of various themes of Scripture. They are highlighted and some are explored in the text, but few are developed beyond the periphery. Instead, the book goes deep into foundation issues surrounding biblical theology. Having not explored these issues before, this was beneficial to me.

Overall, this volume fits well within the other works in this series. The format and approach offer a robust introduction to the subject of biblical theology and is worth having on your bookshelf.

This book was given to me courtesy of Kregel Publications for the purpose of this review.

All Around the Web – January 14, 2020

Russell Moore – The Roman Road from Insurrection

John Stonestreet – ‘Soul’ and the Life Well-Lived

Sean McDowell – 5 Things Public Speakers Need to Have

F&T – Pastors Less Likely to Preach on Race Now

Chuck Lawless – 12 Questions Church Leaders Need to Ask Monthly

TGC – How Can I Think About an LGBT Vote at My Secular University?

Aleteia – 104-year-old man finishes doctoral thesis during the pandemic

Not the Bee – Mind-blowing: Guy takes paintings of historical figures and uses A.I. to create super realistic “photographs” of what they actually looked like in real life.

Cord Cutters News – The Average Household Now Subscribes to Four Streaming Services

Babylon Bee – Democrats Declare Unity Mandatory

Babylon Bee – Conservative Mental Health Up 300% After They All Get Banned From Twitter

Babylon Bee – Trump Orders Flags Lowered To Half-Staff Over Loss Of His Twitter Account

Babylon Bee – Trump Praised For Accepting Election Results 4 Years Quicker Than Hillary Clinton Did

All Around the Web – January 13, 2020

Joe Carter – Why Complementarian Men Do More Housework

TGC – The Cost of Staying in Silicon Valley

Tim Challies – Would It Be Okay For Me To Be Angry With God?

Evolution News – How to Destroy Love with Darwinism

F&T – 4 Principles for Recalibrating Your Ministry Vision

thom Rainer – Comparing Pastors

Chuck Lawless – 5 Ways to Use Your Electronic Calendar to Pray

GetReligion – It’s civil war among American charismatics and Pentecostals, but few reporters are covering it.

TGC – Does It Matter if Schools and Hospitals Remain ‘Christian’?

Think Theology – Why a Dove?

Babylon Bee – Amazon Banned From Amazon Servers For Selling Trump’s Art Of The Deal

Babylon Bee – Trump Hides Nuclear Codes In Bible Where Pelosi Will Never Find Them

Babylon Bee – Apple Removes All Apps Since Any Of Them Could Be Used To Incite Violence

Babylon Bee – ‘Let’s All Remain Peaceful,’ Says Trump In Clear Incitement To Violence