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Favorite Books of 2012

The Christian publishing world continues to pump out hundreds of books each year. And many of them are excellent, providing Christians with biblically-grounded, theologically-rooted, historically-driven works. Picking your favorite book of the year is tough. Nonetheless, we asked some of our contributors what their favorite book was for 2012. We hope that you benefit from this short list and please leave a comment and tell us what book(s) you would add to the list as well!

Thomas Schreiner

James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Rob Lister’s book, God is Impassible and Impassioned: Toward a Theology of Divine Emotion (Crossway), evinces a mastery of philosophy, historical theology, systematic theology, and biblical theology. His writing style, even though he examines a difficult subject, is wonderfully lucid. I learned much from this outstanding volume.

Paul Helm

Helm was appointed J.I. Packer Chair of Philosophical Theology at Regent College, Vancouver, in 2001. He is presently a Teaching Fellow there.

Barry D Smith’s new book, The Indescribable God: Divine Otherness in Christian Theology (Pickwick), sets out in clear and illuminating terms the diverse ways in which Christian theologians have used non-biblical language to character God’s transcendence. A first-rate introduction to the primary sources, letting them speak for themselves.

Fred Zaspel

Pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.

I think I have to give first place to Tim Keller’s Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Zondervan). So much more than a “how to do church” reference guide, this offers a large-vision way of thinking toward gospel ministry.

Because I think I can get by with it, I will mention a second – Carl Trueman’s The Creedal Imperative (Crossway). This was a most enjoyable read, partly because Carl is fun to read anyway, but also because he nails his subject so very well. I highly recommend both to pastors everywhere!

Matthew Barrett

Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University (OPS). He is also the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine.

As the debate over inerrancy and biblical authority continues, two books that students, pastors, and scholars alike should pick up include Inerrancy and Worldview (Crossway) and Inerrancy and the Gospels (Crossway), both by Vern Poythress. In the former Poythress applies the doctrine of inerrancy to worldview categories, including the nature of humanity, evil, and the purpose of life. And if you read carefully you will notice that Poythress critiques the worldview of theologians like Enns, Sparks, Allert, and McGowan. In the latter Poythress resurrects the discipline of harmonization and seeks to answer tough questions over differences between the gospel accounts.

Luke Stamps

Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University (OPS). He is also a Ph.D. candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in systematic theology.

For whatever reason, I didn’t grow up reading fantasy.  Most of my contemporaries are astounded to find out that I have never Tolkien’s classics, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  So this year, in preparation for the upcoming movies, I decided to read J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. I am actually reading it aloud to my four-year-old son, and we are currently nearing the Battle of the Five Armies. Tolkien spins a tale so full of imaginative fancy and, at the same time, moral weight that, most nights, it’s hard to tell who looks forward to the reading more: the four-year-old or the thirty-one-year-old. The fantastic illustrations by Alan Lee, who has also worked as a concept artist for the Peter Jackson films, only enhance the experience.

Owen Strachan

Assistant Professor of of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College.

While not technically published in 2012, my favorite book of the year was Paul Gutjahr’s Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy (Oxford, 2011). It managed to be scholarly, engaging, and even spiritually profitable. Hodge’s story shows us just how strategic professors and scholars can be. Hodge was a man of great learning but also strong faith. This was a man who viewed his research as an investment. He stretched himself in order to be of use to the church. But he did not get lost in his books. I loved reading how Hodge would welcome his children in his study, and it is clear that friendship meant a great deal to him. Lastly, I was encouraged by this work itself. It’s published with Oxford, but it doesn’t hold evangelicalism at a distance; it feels no need to sniff at real-life Christians because it is produced by an elite press. Such an approach is not lost on younger scholars. You really can be a Christian and a respected intellectual, as Gutjahr (and Hodge!) shows.

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