My Top 15 Books of 2016

I’ve always enjoyed reading but only in the last couple of years have I recovered a love (and a regularity) that was birthed as a kid reading the likes of Roald Dahl and J.R.R. Tolkien. Life has a way of pushing out the slower, measured spaces needed to read this type of literature but as I’ve prioritized this discipline, it has unearthed much fruit. This list is comprised of hard copies of books (seen above) that impacted me the most, regardless of publication date.*

And yes, this was “The Year of Keller.” Having already read his books on gospel life, the gospel of Mark, self forgetfulness, mercy ministry, urban ministry and preaching, I tried to make my way through the rest of his catalog this year and I almost did it. I’ll need to tackle his recently released prequel to The Reason for God and his book on Christmas, as well as his book on faith and work and he and his wife’s book on marriage in the upcoming year.

My favorite books from 2016:

15. Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practical Guide by Cameron Cole and Jon Nelson (ed.) (Crossway, 2016) // A blueprint for modern ministry to youth. No stone unturned. Clear and cogent.

14. The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing by Jonathan Dodson (Zondervan, 2014) // Contextualized evangelism for the 21st century. Astute. Challenges our gospel fluency.

13. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God  by Tim Keller (Penguin, 2016) // The new standard on prayer. Comprehensive. Personally reinvigorating.

12. Tradecraft: For the Church on Mission by Larry McCrary, Caleb Crider, Wade Stephens, and Rodney Calfee (CreateSpace, 2013) // Affirms the concept that all are missionaries wherever they are. Strategic. Purposeful.

11. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Tim Keller (Penguin, 2011) // Religion and irreligion are both ways to avoid God. One of Keller’s most potent insights. Humbling.

10. Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters  by Tim Keller (Viking, 2009) // Delves deeper in idol diagnosis than any that have come before. Attacks culture’s biggest golden calves. Weighty.

9. The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything by Fred Sanders (Crossway, 2010) // Foundational. Deeply biblical. Pastoral.

8. Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller (Penguin, 2015) // Exhaustive. Hopeful. Takes into account the diversity of humanity and their responses to suffering.

7. Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore (B&H Books, 2015) // Penetrating. Ahead of its time. Foreshadowing. “A prophetic minority…”

6. Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves (IVP Academic, 2012) // Accessible yet deep. Clever. Stopped almost every paragraph to distill. Funny. My new favorite book on the Trinity.

5. Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just by Tim Keller (Penguin, 2012) // Helpful. Incontrovertible. Puts to rest the debate on the Christian and church’s responsibility to the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the refugee.

4. How (Not) to be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor by James K.A. Smith (Eerdmans, 2014) // Smith brings Taylor from the air to the ground. Profitable. Effective.

3. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller (Penguin, 2009) // Ground-breaking. Thorough. A new apologetic. In my opinion, Keller’s most important tome.

2. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit by James K.A. Smith (Brazos, 2016) // You become what you set your affections upon. Visionary. Bettering.

And the book I read in 2016 that was my favorite was…

1.  The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism & Gospel Assurance – Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters by Sinclair Ferguson (Crossway, 2016) // I know this is #1 on most people’s year-end lists but I have to agree with them, this was the cream of the crop for 2016. An amalgamation of church history, biblical theology, and pastoral application masterfully woven together unlike any I’ve seen before. At it’s center is something as relevant as its ever been – the ditch of legalism or antinomianism as we seek to apply the relationship of the gospel with the law. And Ferguson swimmingly maneuvers in these difficult waters with deft and proficiency in a way that not only instructs the mind but reengineers the heart.

Honorable Mention:

Learning Evangelism from Jesus by Jerram Barrs (Crossway, 2009)
I Am: Exploring the ‘I Am’ Sayings of John’s Gospel by Iain Campbell (Evangelical Press, 2011)
Good News to the Poor: Social Involvement and the Gospel by Tim Chester (Crossway, 2013)
Delighting in the Trinity: Why the Father, Son, and Spirit are Good News by Tim Chester (The Good Book Company, 2010)
Reordering the Trinity: Six Movements of God in the New Testament by Rodrick Durst
Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions by Tim Keller (Penguin, 2015)
You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church…and Rethinking Faith by David Kinnaman (Baker Books, 2016)
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer by C.S. Lewis (Mariner Books, 2002 printing)
The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World by Gabe Lyons (Multnomah, 2012)
Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness by Eugene Peterson (Eerdmans, 1992)
Honest Evangelism by Rico Tice and Carl Laferton (The Good Book Company, 2015)
The Story of Everything: How You, Your Pets, and the Swiss Alps Fit into God’s Plan for the World by Jared C. Wilson (Crossway, 2015)
The Story Telling God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Parables by Jared C. Wilson (Crossway, 2014)

*I enjoy other kinds of mediums of reading as well. I probably read the equivalent of another 5-7 books from the blogs, journals, and news sites that I save and read via Feedly and Pocket.

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