Monday, December 30, 2013

Even More Books from 2013

Last week, I posted my first ever top books of 2013 list and also some other good books that I recommend.

This week, at the year's very end, I'll be posting my traditional list of all of the books I finished this year.

Today, I wanted to highlight several other books that I read this year for which I am grateful.  These are books that challenged me in significant ways. I don't necessarily agree with them or can't recommend them without some caveat or providing some explanatory context, but I am very glad that I read them because of how they sharpened me.

If you only have a little time for books, I recommend reading the best of the best. But if you have time and curiosity, it's really good to read books that stretch you.

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

I ran a several post series evaluating this important book:

#1 Gay
#2. Torn about Torn - Five Things I Appreciated
#3. Torn about Torn - Three Things That Disturbed Me Most

(I still have a fourth post in mind to finish that series some day.)

Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games by Kevin Schut

I read this book to coordinate its reviews in EFCA Today magazine and look forward to linking to those reviews when they come out.

I enjoyed reading Schut's book, especially because it was written by someone who is both an avid gamer and a deep Christian thinker.

I'm not sure I agreed with all of his conclusions, but it's a great conversation starter about a humongous phenomenon.

Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views ed. by James Beilby and Paul Eddy

I'm really glad I read this one in conjunction with coordinating these review at EFCA Today.

The contributors really come from incredibly different perspectives and reach very different conclusions, but they interact graciously with each other and do a good job of showing how they got where they ended up.

I learned something from each chapter but believe that David Powlison understands the Bible the best. I think this one should be read by every seminarian (if they don't read a book by each contributor). The only thing missing was a chapter by Neil Anderson to represent his popular perspective.

The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins by Peter Enns 

Challenging read. I learned a lot. I agreed with many of his values and appreciated what he felt like he compelled to attempt with this book (to honestly re-read the biblical data in the light of evolutionary science, extra-biblical context, and the new perspectives on Paul).  I also appreciated his tone--I had expected more combativeness. He was winsome and sympathetic, I thought, to his opponents.

On the other hand, I didn't agree with many many of his premises and therefore thought his conclusions were all wrong.

I was glad I read it in conjunction with this one:

Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care by C. John Collins

Collins establishes a "Mere Adam-and-Eve-Ism," trying to demonstrate the least of what is essential to affirm about A&E from the Bible. Then he explores several scenarios for reconciling this data to the current scientific conclusions.

I learned a lot and was affirmed in my faith. The author knows his stuff and is a clear writer. I still have lots of questions, though I think Collins handily answered a number of the questions Enns had raised in The Evolution of Adam. More thinking (and reading) required for me.


Thanks for this list - all of these look very interesting!

I picked up Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views as soon as it came out, as I was in the final stages of writing my MA thesis comparing the views of Wink and Boyd (and wished the book had come out sooner so I could have used it more). I felt that neither of them were very well represented in this volume as compared to their own books. It doesn't help that, as you said, each of the views come from very different perspectives. The nature of the book as dialogue between them leads to them responding to questions they just didn't ask on their own, and talking past each other quite a bit. I personally found that Powlison dodged pretty much the whole argument, but hey, his view rejects most of the premises of the other views entirely, so what can you do? All in all a decent book, but it's no substitute for the individual works, particularly because Wink and Wagner both needed help on their chapters (Wink died partway through), and thus their views aren't necessarily all their own.

I also want to echo your thumbs-up to Kevin Schut. Good stuff, and I'd like to see more like it! (If anyone's interested in more like it, check out Halos and Avatars by Craig Detweiler, or check out,, or

Happy New Year!