Here is a list of all the books I read from 2015, and since they are from a lot of diverse categories I will focus on those which fall into the scope of this blog pertaining to theology and Biblical Studies.
Some of the books listed below are hard to list as one being better than the other in the top 5 list since I recommend them all as very profitable and worthwhile books to read and some will be directed towards different audiences such as Dr. Dolzeal’s book on Divine Simplicity being a book that I wouldn’t recommend to everyone since it is technical, whereas the 2 books on the doctrine of vocation are written at a level profitable to anyone.
- Recovering a Covenantal Heritage: Essays in Baptist Covenant Theology Edited by Richard Barcellos
This book was an excellent compilation of chapters by multiple authors on 1689 Federalism covering different branches of theology such as systematic, historical, biblical, and exegetical theology providing a thorough and up to date reference for understanding 1689 federalism in contrast to other forms of covenant theology such as WCF Federalism.
2. God Without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness by James Dolzeal
I read this book to understand the doctrine of Divine Simplicity and in preparation for the 2015 SCRBPC since Dr. Dolzeal was the guest speaker. It is a technical books to read since it is Dr. Dolzeal’s dissertation, but it is worth reading through since it defends the classical, historic, orthodox doctrine of God and the importance of Doctrines such as Simplicity and Impassibility and how they are necessary preconditions for God’s immutability. We can not merely jump into the Impassibility debate without studying the preceding foundational elements, so this is necessary reading for anyone who wants to better understand the current debates on God’s Impassibility.
3. I’m going to put two books for #3 since they both cover the same topic and complement each other well on the Doctrine of Vocation:
I. Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton
II. God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.
Both of these books give an excellent overview of the doctrine of vocation/calling. They stress the importance of God’s ordinary Means of Grace and the local church against the common trend of individualism and radical extremes as presented in books like David Platt’s Radical, which I also read last year. The “Radical” mentality isn’t sustainable, people will burn out and then often be filled with guilt since they weren’t “Radical enough” rather than learning to be content with God’s means of grace. This is an important difference between Confessional Reformed Believers and Calvinistic believers who don’t have a robust doctrine of the local church and how it relates to their sanctification and growth since they place a greater emphasis on the individual. Far too often Christianity is reduced to me and my personal relationship with Jesus in America and we over emphasis our personal relationship with Christ, prayer, reading of Scripture (which I don’t deny are important) over the corporate Means of Grace within a local Church: Corporate Prayer, Worship, the Preaching of the Word of God, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, which are the primary means which God uses to sanctify and strengthen the faith of believers. Too often we are oblivious to the fact that the American overemphasis on individualism can be very egotistical and fall into mysticism with Bible studies often asking “what does that verse mean to you”, thereby placing the authority in ourselves rather than in Scripture.
4. The Christian Family by Herman Bavinck
This isn’t a how to guide for marriage as contemporary books. This is a translation from the original which was written in Dutch in which theologian Herman Bavinck gives a biblical theology of man and the family tracing its development through the Bible to provide a Biblical view of Marriage. There are also useful excursuses dealing with topics such as courtship, but the overall thrust is to understand the Bible’s teaching of man and marriage by tracing its development through Scripture.
5. In Defense of the Decalogue : A Critique of New Covenant Theology by Richard Barcellos
After finding a copy of this book it was great to finally read it to get an overview of New Covenant Theology (NCT). Although NCT is a fluid system that is developing and can’t be pinned down on all of its points since some authors take different nuances this book helps to respond to some of the general overarching elements of NCT. It helps clear up confusion regarding commonly misunderstood topics such as NCT proponents citing John Owen to support their view of the Decalogue and a response to NCT proponents showing the biblical support for the perpetuity of the 4th commandment which is often a matter of debate for those new to the confessional reformed baptist position. This book provides excellent exegetical support for its claims, but is also careful to respond to NCT proponents graciously with an earnest desire to bring clarity to important issues regarding the Decalogue that affect our view of the Gospel, as well as the local church in our ecclesiology and other doctrines such as sanctification.