Saturday, May 07, 2011

Book Recommendations

I have read a few books recently that are particularly useful. My sphere of reference for doing these recommendations is our church book table. These three titles are excellent books for the average Christian reader - particularly ones that don't read many books. I read lots of books that I wouldn't bother to put out for our church family to buy (by suggested donation), but I would love to see these three that I'm highlighting go out the door in quantity. They are readable, reliable and cover very practical and often overlooked subjects. I'll leave it to others to do reviews, but I will make some brief comments with these recommendations.

Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day, Edited by Kevin DeYoung (Crossway, 2011)

Let me get my prime reservation regarding this book out of the way right off the top: What's up with the title? Beyond that, this is a very helpful book. Eighteen authors have contributed chapters on what to believe and how to live in light of the Gospel. The applied theology in this book is such a important resource for the "Young, Restless and Reformed" movement. It is all too easy to grasp onto "cool theology" and then live like the world. If you follow the link above, you can see inside the book and read the table of contents. This is a remarkably comprehensive book given its moderate length. The chapters are very well written and profound in content. I hope they sell millions of these books, in spite of the odd title.

When I was in seminary about 15 years ago, my history professor made me read The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul. Maybe I was overwhelmed with my studies, maybe something was lost in the translation, but I found reading that book a nasty chore. Since that time, however, I have reflected on Ellul's arguments and observations many times to my profit. My history professor was right; this is a significant book. By all means read Ellul's book, if you have the stamina, but a better idea for most people would be to read Tim Challies' new book.

This is a book about the digital revolution and how it is changing our lives, even if we are not conscious of it happening (as most of us are not). It is as if the author lifts us up above our immersion in all this technology and lets us look at it from a high place - seeing the forest instead of all the pretty, shiny trees, so to speak. This perspective is given to the reader in terms of historical development, theology and the very personal effects brought about by the digital revolution. Challies' goal is to help the reader objectively analyse what is going on in their own lives with theological discernment. The Next Story will give you tools to develop wisdom in our times and help you to honestly assess your digital consumption.

As an added bonus, for the month of May you can download an audio book copy of The Next Story for free at If you do read or listen to the book, it may seem ironic to you this book is even available in an audio format. But I can't talk - I read it on a Kindle.

These Last Days: A Christian View of History, Edited by Richard D. Phillips and Gabriel N. E. Fluhrer (P&R Publishing, 2011).

I have never read such a satisfying book on eschatology. This is a collection of transcribed messages from the 2010 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. Contributors include Sinclair Ferguson, D.A. Carson, Alistair Begg, Michael Horton and six others (click through to the Amazon page to see the full list of contributors and more book details).

If you have been frustrated with end times teaching because it is so complicated and speculative, you will find this book a breath of fresh air. It is simple, direct, biblical and worship inspiring. Because the chapters were messages, the book flows well and is an easy read. It would make an excellent introduction to eschatology from a biblical theology perspective - that is, seeing the Bible as a continuous story - The Story - from Genesis to Revelation with Christ at the center of it all.


So, there we have three books for "the regular Christian" (if there is such a category of people). All three are profound, practical and rooted in solid theology. I believe I will be recommending them for years to come, even though they were all published in 2011.


richard said...

I've wondered for a while what the deal was with that title but I figured it would all become clear once I read the book. Alas, I see that the bemusement persists even in one who has read the book. It will just have to remain one of those unexplained mysteries, I guess.

I hope to read it soon. Thanks for the review, Terry.

Kim said...

Thanks for the reviews, Terry. I had heard about the last one you mentioned, and added it to my wishlist.

scott mckenzie said...

i think Josh is working on "The Next Story" - you should get him to post a review! via Barnabas perhaps?

stauf46 said...

I think the title simply means that this old faith does not need a shiny new "comeback" -- it never went away. Still, the content doesn't elaborate on the odd title.

Scott, Josh has read two of three. He should do a review for Barnabas! He should review all three on his blog, too!

Brad Harback said...

You know, all three books resonate with me, Terry. These are subjects I think about a lot these days and despair at times at how little time evangelicals spend working through the implications of positions we hold and especially the implications of going headlong into every technological advance that slides off the assembly line. I'll have to try and get ahold of those book.