5 Great Books We Read in 2010
Last week we asked around the offices at Ligonier to see what staff members would consider 5 great books they read in 2010. And here are the answers we received. Maybe you’ll find a treasure or two of your own.
Steve Adamson, Dean of Distance Learning, Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies
- On Natural Theology Volume 1 by Dr. Thomas Chalmers - An excellent example of 19th century apologetics based on the historical teleological argument (i.e. argument from design) for the existence of God, with direct responses to David Hume’s criticisms.
- In Defense of Natural Theology, Edited by James F. Sennett and Douglas Groothuis - Provides a complete overview of traditional apologetic arguments from the field of natural theology, all directed at refuting David Hume’s attacks on Christianity.
- David Hume’s Argument Against Miracles by Francis J. Beckwith - An interesting defense of Biblical miracles using a legal defense.
- Crowded with Genius, The Scottish Enlightenment by James Buchan - A thoroughly interesting historical and technical description of the flowering of intellectual thought in 18th century Scotland.
- Natural Theology by William Paley - The standard work on the existence of God via design, containing the well-known watchmaker analogy.
Greg Bailey, Director of Publications, Reformation Trust Publishing
- The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris - The first volume in Morris’ three-book biography of “Teddy” is, simply put, “Bully!”—detailed, well-paced, and engrossing.
- The Prodigal God by Tim Keller - This well-written, convicting book taught me that I am an older brother in the sense of the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son.
- The Unquenchable Flame by Michael Reeves - This book is a very good introduction to the Reformation, with abundant detail and a nice meditation on “always reforming” at the end.
- The Narnian by Alan Jacobs - Not a typical biography, The Narnian presents the life of C. S. Lewis with special attention to the realm of his imagination.
- The Great Bridge by David McCullough - If you think a book about the design and construction of the Brooklyn Bridge must be deadly dull, think again; McCullough, as always, makes another time and place come alive.
Scott Devor, Production Manager, Tabletalk Magazine
- Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Bavinck. A challenging, but extremely rich systematic theology set that embodies much of our reformed tradition.
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Probably one of the best Russian novels ever written, this story takes the reader through some of the deepest questions and greatest struggles of human experience.
- Holiness by J.C. Ryle. This is a book I continue to pick up year after year, and it remains one of the most spiritually formative books I have ever read.
- Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen. In this work, which many have called a modern classic, Machen has done a masterful job at showing why liberalism is not compatible with Christianity.
- The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. From the perspective of a Dutch Christian holocaust survivor who helped hide Jews, this book has given me the clearest picture of the struggles and sufferings that were part of Jewish life under Nazi Germany.
Chris Donato, Senior Associate Editor, Tabletalk Magazine
- The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology And Worship by Robert Letham - This book on the Holy Trinity stands next to the other great texts on the subject of the past century, and is known not for breaking ground or innovation but for being wonderfully orthodox and refreshingly broad in its scope from the perspective of a confessional Reformed theologian.
- Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters and Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger - Though I honestly don’t like Catcher in the Rye, I often return to these other stories, mostly because of Salinger’s wit and honesty and awesome turn of phrase.
- Byzantine Theology by John Meyendorff - A clear and useful introduction to Eastern Orthodox thought laid out with the average Westerner in mind.
- Collected Poems, 1909–1962 by T.S. Eliot - One of the more challenging poets I read (and often don’t understand), yet always enjoy the way he strings his words together. His penchant for hiding hope in the most darkest corners has always appealed to me.
- The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come by Rob Moll - Unless you’re a pastor or layperson whose ministry is regularly filled with visitations to the sick and dying, as well as their caretakers, this book served me well as a helpful reminder of how to live fully into my eventual death, and provided me with the exhortation I needed to pass on this encouragement to others.
Chris Larson, Executive Vice President
- Confessions by Augustine - Here is a man delivered from sin by grace and still in awe.
- Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D. Wilson - While the narrative is at times purposefully dizzying, I’ve enjoyed reading and discussing this with my 11-yr-old son on Monday mornings and encouraging him to think (and live) with joy and wonder at God’s story of redemption.
- The Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life by John Calvin. This booklet excerpts part of Book 3 of the Institutes (Chs. 6-10). The editors do a masterful job of emphasizing pithy and provocative exhortations from the Genevan reformer. I can’t read a paragraph before stopping to repent for something.
- Voices from the Past by Various - A new Puritan devotional reader from Banner of Truth similar to The Valley of Vision.
- First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman — Dr. Sproul read this last year and recommended it to me. Compiled from a massive Gallup research study over 25 years, this book helps leaders think through practices to find, focus, and keep talented employees.
Keith Mathison, Associate Editor of Tabletalk Magazine, Dean of Curriculum Development
- Protestants in an Age of Science: The Baconian Ideal and Antebellum American Religious Thought by Theodore Dwight Bozeman. Bozeman’s book provides a wealth of important insight into conservative nineteenth-century American theological thinking.
- Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries: From Paul to Valentinus by Peter Lampe. This book makes my list because it provides an absolutely brilliant and exhaustive study of the rise of the earliest churches in Rome and points out some facts that Roman Catholic apologists will have a difficult time explaining.
- The Westminster Assembly: Reading Its Theology in Historical Context by Robert Letham. Letham’s book is very helpful because of the use he makes of recently unearthed primary sources related to the Westminster Assembly.
- The Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer - This was one of the most fascinating additions to the ongoing debate and discussion about the relationship between science and faith.
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. I try to read this book at least once every year or two because I never cease to be amazed at the depth to be found within its pages.
Robert Rothwell, Associate Editor, Tabletalk Magazine
- Contours of Pauline Theology by Tom Holland - Though a bit choppy at times, this work makes excellent points regarding the bad methodology that underlies the New Perspective on Paul, Paul’s view of the church as a corporate entity, and the propitiatory nature of the Passover as background to the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
- The Holy Trinity by Robert Letham - Protestants need to better emphasize the centrality of the Trinity, and this book is an excellent biblical, historical, and practical survey of what it means to confess one God who exists eternally as three persons.
- Pentecost Today? by Iain Murray - I had to read this book for a class on revival within the Reformed tradition, and I found it to be an excellent survey that taught me so much on the biblical roots of revival and the work of the Holy Spirit.
- Republocrat by Carl Trueman - Evangelicals in the United States, in my opinion, need a more thoughtful approach to politics that works for the common good while avoiding the compromise of biblical principles, and Trueman’s work is a great introduction to how this might be achieved.
- Scripture Alone by R.C. Sproul - The longer I engage in theological research and writing, the more I am convinced that a sound doctrine of Scripture is essential to Christian faith and living. This book covers all the major points of a sound doctrine of Scripture in an accessible format.
Geoff Stevens, Creative Director
- Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis - This is the fascinating and personal account of C.S. Lewis’ conversion to Christianity from atheism.
- The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton - An entertaining and common sense defense of Christian theism through an overview of anthropology, mythology and the history of the world.
- Crazy Love by Francis Chan - Perhaps a bit thin on commending the right motivation for obedience, this book rings true with it’s core message: Christians should be pouring themselves out for the poor and weak.
- The History of Rome (Vol 1) by Cyril Robinson - This is a broad and sweeping overview of the birth, life and decline of Rome.
- Resources for Deacons: Love Expressed Through Mercy Ministries by Tim Keller
Fowler White, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Biblical Studies, Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies
- John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor by W. Robert Godfrey – Godfrey invites us to appreciate the extraordinary ministry of the Reformer.
- Calvin by Bruce Gordon – Gordon’s biography of the Reformer is one of remarkable depth and breadth.
- An Uncommon Union: Dallas Theological Seminary and American Evangelicalism by John D. Hannah – Hannah brings alive the history of DTS under its five presidents and, in the process, opens windows on the theological landscape of present-day evangelicalism.
- The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards by Steven J. Lawson– Prepare to be humbled and challenged by Lawson’s reflections on the “Resolutions” of Edwards.
- Word, Water, & Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism by J. V. Fesko – Fesko’s monograph makes an important contribution to our considerations of the sacrament of baptism.