Having made you aware of all the books I read in 2019, I thought I would also share with you a few of the books which caught me by surprise. It’s not that I expect to read bad books; in fact, I do all in my power to not read bad books. Nevertheless, the books I’m going to mention were either unheralded or unheard of (to me) and thus surprised me with how good they were.
The World-Tilting Gospel by Dan Philips – This was a really great book all of which I read on the treadmill at my gym. Philips’ book is a primer on the Christian life written in a very accessible—almost conversational—style. The book is divided into four sections: humanity’s problem, God’s solution, how we are saved, and the Christian life. It is theologically careful and doctrinally deep while at the same time remaining very accessible. This is a book I had heard about, but I hadn’t heard much. But, it was a pleasant surprise.
Pierced for Our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Mike Ovey, and Andrew Sach was a book I used to help prepare me for our Easter sermons on penal substitutionary atonement. This was a somewhat surprising book to me because the authors, though well known in the fields, were not well known to me. However, that says far more about the lack of diversity of my reading than it does about the authors or the book. It was very helpful in preparing the Easter sermons and I’m thoroughly glad it has been added to my library.
The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley was recommended on Twitter by our Corporis speaker Darryl Dash. I hadn’t previously heard of this book or its author. I was surprised to hear Dash’s recommendation of a book by an author, neither known to me. But, it was a delightful surprise of a book that helped reinvigorate my morning devotions and also helped me to be far more intentional about social media’s place in my life. The book’s publisher describes it as a book that “offers four daily and four weekly habits, designed to help us create new routines and transform frazzled days into lives of love for God and neighbor.”
Heart to Heart: Octavius Winslow's Experimental Preaching by Tanner G. Turley is yet another book that I had not heard of by an author who was similarly unknown to me. Apparently I’m not all that well read. But, that’s why I read. Anyways, this book is about a favourite author of mine; Octavius Winslow. Amazon describes Turley’s book as one in which the author “surveys Winslow's life and ministry and demonstrates how a strong theology of preaching provided the foundation for his preaching methodology.” As a preacher and admirer of Winslow, it seemed this book could not fail. And it didn’t, In fact, it was surprisingly good and helpful.
“The Crucial Questions Series” by R. C. Sproul including the following: Can I Trust the Bible?; Does God Control Everything?; Who Is the Holy Spirit?; What Did Jesus' Parables Mean?; and What Is Faith?. These are wonderful little books. Surprisingly wonderful. They have been around for quite some time and maybe that is why I found them somewhat eye-opening. Further, they are short; more like booklets than books. And, they’re free; how good can a free book really be? But, they are written by one of the great theologians of our day and clearly I should have had higher expectations. This series has 32 titles and all of them that I have read are concise, clear, and very helpful at answering the questions that give each book its title. I intend to read more of these this year and suggest you do the same. Get them free on Amazon and likely elsewhere.
I hope that these brief introductions to these surprising books might encourage some of you to read some of them. Let me know if you do!