Most of us enjoy reading books, and Crossway authors are no exception. John Piper shares why he plans to read until he meets Jesus face to face. Pastor and author Joe Thorn explains why reading blogs isn’t enough. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you enjoy books as well. But with the glut of books published each year—over 300,000 in the United States alone—how are you going to choose which books to read in 2013?
A few of our Crossway authors have some suggestions below as you begin considering your 2013 reading plan.
John Piper makes the following recommendations, particularly for our readers who are pastors:
- The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridge
- End for Which God Created the World by Jonathan Edwards
- William Tyndale by David Daniell
- A Puritan Theology by Joel Beeke
- Lectures to my Students by Charles Spurgeon
- Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Kevin DeYoung (author of What is the Mission of the Church, Don’t Call it a Comeback, and The Hole in Our Holiness) says if someone from his congregation asked for five books to read in the next year, he’d tell him to read:
- The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions - Let the Puritans teach you what sin is like, who God is, and how to pray.
- Calvin’s Institutes – It’s long, so you may need two years to get through it, or you may need to skip some of the more culturally specific sections, but any Christian can read Calvin. And with great benefit for mind and heart.
- Biography – Pick someone you are interested in and read about him. If the biography is insightful and well written it can help you, no matter who it is about. You could read the biography of Edwards or Wilberforce or Hodge or Churchill or Truman.
- Hymnal – Find a good hymnal and sing through all the songs you know. Learn a few you don’t know. I recommend the Trinity Hymnal and the Trinity Psalter.
- P.G. Wodehouse – No one in the last century wrote so well or so humorously as Wodehouse. Start with Right Ho, Jeeves.
Jess Thompson (co-author of Give Them Grace) recommends:
- Galatians Commentary by Luther
- Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick
- Holiness by Grace by Brian Chappell
Joe Thorn, author of Note to Self , said that the following books have been critical to his Christian life over the years, and that they have been re-read many times over:
- Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry by Mike Wilkerson. We need this book. Redemption is not a series of steps we practice or rules we follow. It is not the forced motions of religious practice. We need a redeemer. Just as God’s story is not ultimately about you but about God, so also redemption comes not from you but from God. Jesus is the main character of the story, and his life and work are the center of the plot.
- On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 by Gerhard Forde. This book is a “must have” if you want to understand the implications of being a theologian of the cross. It is a brilliant theological and pastoral reflection on the Heidelberg Catechism. The cross is itself in the first instance the attack of God on the old sinner and the sinner’s theology. The cross is the doing of God to us. A theology of the cross constantly seeks to uncover and expose the ways in which sinners hide their perfidy behind pious facades. The delicate thing about it is that it attacks the best we have to offer, not the worst. This explains why the theology of the cross is generally spoken of in contrast to a theology of glory. The two theologies are always locked in mortal combat. Wherever there is mention of a theology of the cross without indication of this combat, it is not truly the theology of the cross that is being expressed.
- Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. The one thing children need is the gospel of grace. Many probably agree with this as an idea, but what does it look like in practice? It also deals with the concern that grace will produce rebellious kids without a conscience. Living and parenting in grace is not the easy road. In fact, it is much harder to rest in his promise of grace than it is to make a list and try to live by it.
- Law & Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible by C. F. W. Walther. Law is everything in the Scriptures that commands, and gospel is everything in the Scriptures that promises God’s favor in Christ. If we confuse these, we’ll lower the law to some standard that we can actually clear, and we’ll make the gospel anything but good news. The Law is a cruel taskmaster that doesn’t lead to freedom but instead to either despair or self-righteousness. The gospel is the good news that Jesus’ burden is light and that his righteousness is ours as a gift, that the power of law is fulfilled and thus broken in our life. As Calvin writes, “Consequently, this Gospel does not impose any commands, but rather reveals God’s goodness, his mercy and his benefits” (Calvin, Institutes 2.7.5).
What books would you have on your list of recommendations?