2014 Reflections: Top 5 Books
This year I read an incredible amount of books. At somewhere over 50 books reviewed, starting in the March timeframe, the sheer number of pages and topics are staggering. When I look back it is hard to recognize the person I was before. That means the reading was good. I have not had so much free time in a long time and I took advantage of it. I read conservative stuff. I read liberal stuff. I read scholarly books. I read children's book. What follows are merely the Top 5 books I read this year. Admittedly, these are my Top 5. They are controversial, thought provoking, and utterly excellent for what I needed this year. So without further ado.
5. Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology
My bookshelves testify to my devotion to understanding Eastern Orthodoxy. After years of reading I still enjoy wandering about in the broad range of what qualifies for Orthodoxy. Andrew Louth's recent publication is another excellent book for individuals curious in understanding Christianity in the East and it is an enjoyable read for those familiar. I do not think Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology is the best introduction for Protestants but it is one of the best written and well organized efforts available.
4. Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever
It is hard to go wrong with a book on John Calvin. Michael Horton is an outstanding communicator and his subject is inspiring. The result is a book loaded to the brim with the full theology of John Calvin. Surprisingly, Calvin remains an excellent source of criticism for modern adherents of his namesake. This is because the man is not know to the degree his "theology" of God's sovereignty is. Calvin on the Christian Life is an admirable step to rectifying that issue. Until then maybe it would be best for people to drop the "Calvinist" and "Reformed" monikers.
3. Give Me Children or I Shall Die
This title starts the female dominated top three books I read this year. Laurel W. Koepf-Taylor presents an excellent introduction on child studies and the impact such studies can have on Biblical interpretation/understanding. By turning back our understanding of children and their role in society passages of Scripture come to life in rather amazing ways. Though a must read, my only complaint is that Give Me Children or I Shall Die could have been longer. The price will scare people away. That's to be understood. I was very thankful to get to review this book and hope to promote its thoughts into my teaching and hermeneutics.
2. Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church
Not that unlike the #1 book of the year, this title addresses a subject that the evangelical church ignored for a significant time and has subsequently developed a pattern of responding poorly. The mere phrase "gay christian" may turn people off. That is to be expected but the scathing common sense of author VanderWal-Gritter may prove to be too much for some readers. Ultimately, it will be the fact that Generous Spaciousness does not argue for a specific position that will upset conservative readers. It is a book about relationships. I did not take this book as an attack on my orthodoxy. It will be an assault on my faith by demonstrating that the word "neighbor" is not something consistently applied to the homosexual community.
1. The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls
No book even came close to matching the intensity of The Cross and Gendercide. No book came close to exposing the laziness of theology. I was in a foul mood throughout my reading of this book. I simply was not a happy person to be around. Conflict, turmoil, and conviction will do that to a person. The Cross and Gendercide is a must read in every sense of the word. The great sin of the American church is not relaxed theology that has generated into liberal theology and loose sexual morals. The great sin is not loving its neighbor as its self and turning a blind eye to the plights of the crushed and defeated.