Reading Romans: An incredibly thorough investigation of the kinds of church homes that probably existed in Rome and other parts of the Greco-Roman Empire. Truly stunning work.
Who is This Man?: One of the best “books on Jesus” I’ve read the last 5 years. Absolute home-run. A great book for seekers and life-long people of faith. Ortberg focuses on the humanity and historical impact of Jesus. His timing is great as the New Atheist Movement gains PR steam, Ortberg offers a necessary corrective daring us to imagine what the world would look like with Jesus or Jesus’ followers.
Chasing Francis: My good friend, Ian Cron, has given us a gem of a narrative. I don’t like to say too much about fiction. It’s a compelling piece. You will fall in love with Jesus and St. Francis and the church all in one sweeping story. Ian and I will be co-teaching a class at the Pepperdine Lectures in May. Make note!
My Bright Abyss: So poetic and profound, you have to chew on this book slowly. Provocative and theological, Wiman takes us beyond certainty and control and into the dark place of suffering and faith.
Scarred Faith: Josh Ross’ debut book (full disclosure: he’s one of my best friends)–I simply can’t believe the quality and power of this, his first book. Remarkable. I know it is speaking to thousands of people. Don’t be left out.
David and Goliath: Vintage Gladwell. The best all-disciplines story-teller we have in North America. And, he’s a person of faith (who knew!) who grew up in an Anabaptist tradition (who really knew?). He recently preached his first sermon and I got to be there for it, with 15k of his closest friends.
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: Oldie but a goodie. Klosterman is a beast. How did it take me this long to start reading? Probably the smartest culture guru I’ve ever read. His work is intensely theological. Stunningly so.
Everything Belongs: With God, nothing is wasted. Perhaps Calvinists and Arminians/Open Theists are both right. I can’t believe I just wrote those words. Rohr is part Yoda part St. Paul part Rumi. Provocative and fun.
The Denial of Death: My first interaction with Becker (thanks to Richard Beck, his work in Unclean–on last year’s “best of list”) and it won’t be my last. I think I finally get Freud and Kierkegaard. That’s no small feat. This book is helping me with the preaching and teaching I’m doing in 2014.
God, Sexuality, and the Self: Coakley is a five-tool theologian. No weaknesses in her game. She’s a power theologian and will require you to work and discern. Very thankful to have started reading her work this year. This is her most recent book.
The Promise of Despair: My favorite read of 2013 (written a few years ago). Moltmann for pastors and church leaders. “The love of God protects us from nothing but prepares us for everything” is one way to summarize this book on death and all the minions working for death (sin, disease, sickness, divorce, addiction, etc.). I’m leading a 12 weeks series at Otter Creek straight from the raw material and insight of this book.
*N.T. Wright’s work on Paul, Barbara Brown Taylor, Scot McKnight (I’ve read it but it’s not out yet)–all books that will surely make the 2014 list.
***I left out Bill Simmons’ book The Big Book on Basketball because I realize 90% of you don’t care about NBA hoops (even though you should, but I digress, that’s a discussion for another day). His book is probably the most engaging, entertaining book I read in 2013.