Yesterday I shared a list of the upcoming books on politics and culture that I’m looking forward to reading in 2016. Below is a list of theological and spiritual/reflective books that I’ll be reading this year.
I disagree with Ron Sider on many things (pacifism, feminism, etc.), but I admire him greatly because he is no hack. It would have been easy for Sider, a theologically orthodox Anabaptist, to conform to the expectations of his progressive tribe and, as many have, jettison or deemphasize his commitments to the right to life of the unborn, a Christian sexual ethic, and a Christian definition of the family. He didn’t, because, again, he’s not a hack. I’ve read a pre-publication manuscript of this book, and I don’t agree with everything in it, but I’m exceedingly grateful for the conversation, especially about how older and younger Christians are to grapple together with challenges facing the church.
I’ve obviously already read this one, since I wrote the foreword, but I’m looking forward to it being published because I anticipate how widely God is going to use this book for the good of the church. The Wilsons have a child with autism. This book is a personal, honest look at the challenges of marriage and parenting in such circumstances. Those of us who parent special needs children will immediately identify. Those who minister to such families (and shouldn’t that be all of us?) will find it invaluable.
Hebrews is one of my favorite biblical books—rich, deep, arresting. It’s a book that fits the whole canon together and addresses the totality of the Christian life. I find myself returning to it again and again, no matter where I am in the Bible. Peter O’Brien is one of my favorite Bible commentators. His commentary on Ephesians had deep influence on me, and if this volume isn’t just as good, I’ll be shocked.
I don’t exactly know what this book will be, but I am definitely going to read it. Since reading the Pensees as a young Christian, I have loved Blaise Pascal. He might be the only mathematician I’ve ever enjoyed reading. I want to read this volume because I think Pascal’s famous wager on God’s existence is just as easily caricatured as Kierkegaard’s leap of faith.
Andy Crouch is one of the most gifted writers in the Christian world, and one of the most influential because his writings get right to the root of important questions we should be asking but aren’t. See his book Culture Making, which challenged evangelicals toward new ways of thinking through the creation mandate when culture warring was at the forefront of most of the contemporary rhetoric on the subject. His book Playing God dealt with power, and the sanctification of the right use of it. This book continues that theme of power and how to rightly steward power for the common good. This will be an important volume you will want to read.
Many ask how the early church grew so quickly, from a persecuted sect to a global religion, from Pentecost to Constantine. This book provocatively advertises that it was not about specific strategies but about the virtue of patience. It could be, of course, that this book downplays evangelism and missions, in which case I’ll take issue with it. It could be, though, that it will add to our discussions a fruit of the Spirit we often see as merely a personal, rather than an ecclesial, issue: patience. I look forward to finding out.
The book promises to look at how orthodox Christians formulated their vision of Jesus, from the Bible, over and against the heresies of their time. Then, as now and ever, the question was, “Who do you say that I, the son of man, am?”