For the third year in a row (2004, 2005), here are my favorite books of the year. As I looked over the list of books I’ve read, I asked myself which ones have stirred the most thought and helped shape my thinking. Which ones initiated thoughts that continue to swirl around in my mind? There were other books that did some of this, but these books, I think, did this to the greatest degree. I recommend any of them. Here they are, presented in the order in which I read them:
Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, by Anne Rice
Blog entries: christ the lord: out of egypt, theology as fiction
Her personal thoughts at the end make this book worth reading, but I loved the depth of her research into cultural setting of Jesus’ youth.
The Last Word, by NT Wright
Blog entries: the last word
I think much of the church in North America elevates the Bible almost to a position of idolatry. Wright’s thoughts helped me to clarify my own views of how the Bible should be valued and respected, but not elevated into a fourth member of the trinity.
Jesus Creed, by Scot McKnight
Blog entries: relationship, not perfection, jesus creed
I appreciate McKnight’s deep scholarship that is evident behind this book, yet how accessibly it is written for anyone to read. This book is an excellent look at how Jesus’ core teaching of loving God and others permeates his entire message.
Leadership and Self-Deception, by The Arbinger Institute
Blog entries: leadership and self-deception, the anatomy of peace
So many leadership books seem run of the mill to me as they offer their unique spin on a few steps to make a great leader. This book spins that all around as it forces the leader to look inward rather than just modify a few of their practices.
Colossians Remixed, by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat
Blog entries: colossians remixed
I consider this a new kind of commentary that takes a deep look at the historical context to which the text was written, and then tries to translate that message into our context. It has furthered my own interest in how important the historical context of any Bible text should be taken.
Simply Christian, by NT Wright
Blog entries: so what is christianity about?, simply worship, the field guide for new creation, simply christian
This book will be a valuable resource for years to come I think. I anticipate using it regularly as a book study for those who are new to or interesting in being part of our church community. Lays out an excellent and accessible groundword for what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture, by Shane Hipps
Blog entries: right again, zach, the hidden power of electronic culture
This is a worthwhile read for anyone in church leadership. Hipps is well thought out on why kind of messages are sent out based on how we choose to communicate. Ultimately, the medium is the message, and he shows us just how true that is.
Confessions of a Reformission Rev, by Mark Driscoll
Blog entries: confessions of a reformission rev
Driscoll’s candor and openness make this an important read for anyone who has or hopes to plant a church. As arrogant as he comes across at times, there is a lot of transparency in this book as he shares things he learned in his own church planting journey.
Leadership Divided, by Ron Carucci
I read this book while I was deep in the midst of coursework, and sadly I never got around to blogging about it. This is an important book that describes the gap between the older generation of leaders and the up and coming generation. It is a noticeable gap that I’ve spent a lot of time trying to navigate. As a leadership consultant and a faculty member at Mars Hill Grad School, Ron is uniquely poised to speak to this gap, and I think his words are critical to anyone trying to grapple with this issue.
The Resurrection of the Son of God, by NT Wright
I’m kind of pulling a Zach by including this, because I haven’t actually finished it. But, because it’s so dang long, I’ve already read more pages of this book than any of the others listed above. Despite my bellyaching this summer about how lost I felt in my philosophy class, I learned a great deal about just how much Plato’s dualist thinking still influences our views of spirituality today. That class formed a great foundation for my reading of this book. Wright’s work goes to grand lengths to help us reconsider what a less dualistic view of resurrection — both Jesus’ and the future of humanity — looks like.