Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My favorite reads in 2015

It is the time of year when every pumps there favorite books of the year.

Scot McKnight's list

Kevin DeYoung's list

Christianity Today has numerous books that I have marked as things I would like to read maybe someday. Especially anything by Lauren Winner

But here is my list of books I read this year. That are not in any particular order. I wish I would have read more but alas there is always next year and I still have two weeks left.

1) Faith Speaking Understanding by Kevin Vanhoozer
This was a book I used as the basis/inspiration for the "Summer Study" class we did in partnership Awakening. I actually got to meet Vanhoozer and talked to him about the class and he asked, "would you do it again?" He expressed the difficulty for even himself to teach to congregations about his theater metaphor for theology lived. This was a challenging read and it was an attempt by him to distill his larger works and move beyond theory to practice.

2) Prayer by Timothy Keller
I think I started this book in late 2014 and read it in January. There were many gems in this book but his advice for recovering a devotional practice was very helpful. He just released a devotional book going through all the Psalms in a year called, The Songs of Jesus.

3) Pastoral Theology by Thomas Oden
I read a lot of books about pastoral ministry this year. Many of them were either highly critical of modern excesses in large churches or more popular level leadership type books. There are always nuggets to take away but they often lack the sense of things that transcend our day. Oden specializes in the early church and aims in a lot of his writings to immerse in the wisdom of the church throughout the centuries. This is why I found his book so helpful, especially on topics like pastoral care, visitations for the sick and care for the poor. It is theological rich and practical and spoke to things a pastor ought to do regardless of the times. I don't share several of Oden's theological commitments but there was little in this book to dispute.

4) Soul Keeping by John Ortberg
This book kind of felt like Ortberg's tribute to Dallas Willard. It was easy to read and filled with a lot insight in caring for our neglected souls.

5) Spirituality of the Psalms by Walter Brueggemann
Books on the Psalms fall into two categories: sentimental and fluffy devotional reading that ignores the insights of scholarship or overly technical scholarship that robs the Psalms of their heart. Breuggemann's aim in this book was to wed the two through a basic categorization of the Psalms as orientation (creation focused and innocent in outlook), disorientation (wrestling with sin, suffering, and evil), and reorientation (moving beyond the previous to a deeper view of God and life with him). He also included some wonderful reflections on the difficult parts of the Psalms dealing with suffering and calling on God to destroy one's enemies.

6) Shrink by Tim Shuttle and Deep Church by Jim Belcher
These two books were from people of contrasting church traditions (Anabaptist and Reformed respectively) but both had good insights into what the church should look like today.