Here's a top 10 list from our College of Bible and Ministry Faculty. Enjoy!
- from Rubel Shelly
Larry Hurtado, Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World (Baylor University Press)
I read this book in pre-publication form and had the chance to interact with Hurtado on a panel at the Lanier Library. It is an insightful and readable work on the “uniqueness” of the Christian message that brought it into conflict with time and place. It could be used in undergraduate as well as graduate courses on Christian origins.
- from Terry Briley
Philip D. Jamieson, The Face of Forgiveness: A Pastoral Theology of Shame and Redemption (IVP)
Brené Brown popularized the distinction between guilt and shame, and Jamieson provides a biblical/theological frame of reference for the distinction. His foundational question is, “What if it is our shame rather than our guilt that most needs to be addressed?” Jamieson works through the implications of this question for the way we understand sin, its impact on our relationship with God, and how God frees us from shame in Christ and enables us to forgive others.
- from Mark Black
John Barclay, Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans)
Barclay opens up a new world by looking at the idea of gift (grace) in the ancient world and then interpreting Romans and Galatians in light of it. In doing so, he manages to go beyond the impasse between the New Perspective on Paul and the Old Perspective. A remarkable and already very influential book, though a bit long at 672 pages.
- from Holly Allen
Kara Powell, Jake Mulder & Brad Griffin, Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church (Baker)
This book is based in the Fuller Youth Institute’s recent research with 250 congregations that are successfully welcoming, engaging, and empowering youth and emerging adults. The authors assume a strong role for the church and recognize the significant role all the generations play in spiritual formation across the ages. Good, practical suggestions for churches as they seek new ways to integrate teens and twenty-somethings into the full body of Christ.
- from George Goldman
N.T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus' Crucifixion (HarperCollins)
This book teaches Christians to see the purpose of the cross as bigger than our individual sin problem. Humans were created for a vocation in this world but have thrown over that vocation and become idolaters. So the gospel is not best summarized as the message that guilty people have been forgiven so that they can go to heaven when they die. Rather, idolatrous humans have been rescued in order to be part of a cosmic restoration movement, the kingdom of God.
- from John Mark Hicks
Matthew Bates, The Birth of the Trinity (Oxford University)
Bates outlines how early Christians—within the New Testament as well as in second-century liturgy—exhibit a high Christology by recognizing a dialogue within the divine life through a theological reading of the Hebrew Scriptures in the light of the church's experience of God. This dialogue gives access to the nature of the Triune life of God, which is poured out into human community through Incarnation and Pentecost.
- from Walter Surdacki
Doug Koskela, Calling and Clarity: Discovering What God Wants for Your Life (Eerdmans)
Working with young adults at the preface of their careers, this text help articulate what calling is and is not in some practical terms that aids a student in the discernment process of figuring out biblical vocation.
- from Richard Hughes
Robert P. Jones, The End of White Christian America (Simon & Schuster)
Documents the end of an era, a major turning point in American life in which white Christian America has lost its dominance over American life.
- from Ken Durham
J. D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (HarperCollins)
Not so much a book about religion and faith (though there’s much to learn here about the faith of the white working class), Vance helped me better understand the world of many of my students—those who grew up near or below the poverty line. His reflections on culture, poverty, religion, and education were an eye-opener for me. And, it’s just a good read.
- from Leonard Allen
Andy Crouch, Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk & True Flourishing (IVP)
This small book on Christian leadership cuts against the grain of the leadership literature. The key point: “flourishing [as a leader] comes from being both strong and weak.” Only in the embrace of hidden vulnerability do we become people who can be trusted with true authority. And we need honest friends who can help us discern how much authority and vulnerability we can stand.