Is it ever possible to read too many books (or have too many books)? I do not think so! It was a blessing to read some wonderful, stirring, challenging, and invigorating books this past year. Here are the top five books books I read in 2020 that would be my top recommendations for you to pick up and dive into in 2021!
1. “Christ the Lord: The Reformation and Lordship Salvation” edited by Michael Horton
Michael Horton, along with a superb group of writers including men such as Robert Godfrey, deals with the late 1980s and early 1990s controversy surrounding “Lordship Salvation” involving men like John MacArthur and Zane Hodges. While the book is a little dated, the substance of the book is desperately needed still. This book provides a balanced treatment of justification, saving faith, repentance, and sanctification showing how much the evangelical church needs retrieval from the Protestant Reformation on these issues. Faithful pastoral ministry must handle the law and the gospel well. This book will equip pastors in that area.
2. “Interpreting the Scripture with the Great Tradition” by Craig A. Carter
This book will challenge your mind in many ways. I will confess that there are parts of it that required me to reread (section on metaphysics). However, keep plodding your way through the book and you will discover some rich treasures. Carter is calling the church back to biblical exegesis that marked men like Augustine, John Calvin, and were at the heart of the Nicene Creed. This is a tremendous resource for thinking about how Christ is present in the Scriptures.
3. “The Whole Christ” by Sinclair Ferguson
Sinclair Ferguson is one of my favorite preachers. Whether listening to him or reading him, I am always blessed by his labors. Our men’s group at NTBC went through this book together. Ferguson’s work is a mixture of historical theology along with a systematic unpacking of the law and the gospel. In this book, he uses the Marrow Controversy and subsequent issues to make a case that the church still wrestles with the issues of faith and repentance. I encourage you to read and discuss this book with someone.
4. “William Carey” by S. Pearce Carey
Biographies, especially written by family members, can become more of a hagiographic tribute rather than a telling of the real story. S. Pearce Carey, though the great-grandson of William Carey, does a balanced job overall of telling the story of the Baptist cobbler-preacher who left Britain to serve the interests of the kingdom of God in India. This book is written in a way that one feels that they are taking the journey with William Carey and going for an adventure! While S. Pearce Carey downplays theology some in this book, it is a biography that will encourage you.
5. “Green Pastures” by J. Ryan Davidson
I know the author of this work personally and it is out of a pastor’s heart that this book is written. Ryan Davidson explores and unpacks the concept of the ordinary means of grace in the life of a local church. So many of our churches are starving because they are led to entertainment and cotton candy theology but not the green pastures of Christ. Pastors will find great encouragement in this book to know that the ordinary rhythm of ministry is not in vain. Christ is present with His people through the Word and sacraments. This would be an excellent book to read and study with a group of people.