So, I made a list of the twelve best books I read this past year. I don't know why I do this, but it seems appropriate to share this, rather than, say, my favorite dog videos or Instagram photos of what I'm eating tonight. So, in no particular order I'll dive in:
Setting Our Affections upon Glory: Nine Sermons on the Gospel and the Church, by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Crossway, 2013). At least once each year I find myself reading a book of sermons preached by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). Simply put, he's just in a category by himself and his sermons always feed my soul, as well as stimulate thought and affections. Snippets: "There is only one thing [the Christian can] do with time, and that is to take it and put it into the grand context of eternity." And, "The great need of the church today, in our sadness and in our slowness, is to discover the secret of the burning heart."
The Christian View of Man, by J. Gresham Machen (Banner of Truth Trust, 1984). Gresham Machen (1881-1937) was a New Testament scholar, teaching first at Princeton, and later founding Westminster Theological Seminary. As a popular apologist he is best known for Christianity and Liberalism (1923). In 1935-36 he gave a series of radio messages on basic Christian themes. The chapters of this present book were given as radio messages in 1936. Companion to this is The Person of Jesus (1935, republished in 2017 by Westminster Seminary Press) and The Christian Faith in the Modern World (1936). These are clear, accessible, and compelling explanations of biblical doctrines on a popular level.
Bavinck on the Christian Life: Following Jesus in Faithful Service, by John Bolt (Crossway, 2015). The works of Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) have been translated from Dutch into English only in the past few years. What a rich discovery he is! My first contact with Bavinck was with Our Reasonable Faith (1956, originally published as Magnalia Dei, 1909). The current book was written by Bavinck scholar and translator, John Bolt, and is part of a wider series by Crossway, Theologians on the Christian Life. I'd have to say that this book was a tie with Jason Meyer' book, Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life: Doctrine and Life as Fuel and Fire (Crossway, 2018). Good series!
Interjection: My reading list always seems to be weighted toward dead writers of the last century! I have learned so much from 20th century thinkers and leaders like Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Gresham Machen, and Herman Bavinck. I would add to that list others, such as Carl F. H. Henry, Francis Schaeffer, C. S. Lewis, and G. K. Chesterton. I find that these writers had a way of seeing and preparing us for the 21st century. They saw our age coming upon them and provided much theological and literary insight to address the issues we experience as Christians in our world today.
The Life, Walk and Triumph of Faith, by William Romaine (1970 edition by James Clarke & Co.) This originally was a trilogy (1764, 1771, 1795) published by English Anglican priest, William Romaine (1714-1795), who converted to evangelical faith in 1748. I have completed the first volume (The Life of Faith) and am currently half-way through the second (The Walk of Faith). This is my go-to devotional these days. A recurrent theme of Romaine is the complete sufficiency of Christ for us, that we have everything we need granted to us in him; and that child-like faith is the way that we access and reckon those riches in Christ to be ours. The 18th century English language in these volumes has not been modernized and can be unwieldy, but this trilogy is powerful nonetheless, and has given me much encouragement to live and walk by faith in our all-sufficient Lord.
Four more book reviews coming!
Here's Part 2
Here's Part 3