It is that time of year again when bibliophiles feel compelled to share lists in the hopes that others might enjoy some of the books they themselves enjoyed over the course of the year. The books on my list are not necessarily books that were published in 2018 (although some are). They are books I finished reading in 2018. My stack of books that I plan to read is ever-changing, and sometimes a newer title jumps to the top of the pile and older books end up waiting. With that said, here are ten books I found helpful in one way or another. They are not listed in any particular order.
- T. Desmond Alexander, The City of God and the Goal of Creation.
The “Short Studies in Biblical Theology” series published by Crossway includes some outstanding volumes. This one by Alexander is among the best of the best. Alexander traces the theme of the city of God showing how it culminates in the eschatological New Jerusalem.
- Jonathan S. McIntosh, The Flame Imperishable: Tolkien, St. Thomas, and the Metaphysics of Faërie.
How do I get a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien interested in Thomistic philosophy? This is a question most of us face on a regular basis—if by “on a regular basis” we mean “almost never.” All kidding aside, McIntosh’s book is the perfect book for those individuals who do have a passion for both Tolkien and philosophical questions.
- Nancy Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality.
If there were one book on this list that I wish I could have every young person in this country read, it would be this one. Pearcey sheds a lot of light on issues that have moved to the forefront of cultural and ecclesiastical debate.
- Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt, Thomas Aquinas: Faith, Reason, and Following Christ.
I’ve read a number of secondary sources introducing the life and thought of Thomas Aquinas, and many of them are helpful. This little work by Frederick Bauerschmidt is the best I’ve read thus far.
- Michael Sudduth, The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology.
Many within the Reformed world today have been persuaded that the early Reformed tradition rejected natural theology and arguments for the existence of God. Sudduth demonstrates the falsehood of that claim and responds to a number of objections to natural theology that have arisen in modern strands of Reformed thought.
- Michael Horton, Rediscovering the Holy Spirit.
Somehow, while writing his massive 900 page, two-volume work on justification, Michael Horton was also able to write a book on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. The work is vintage Horton—clear and insightful, scholarly yet accessible.
- Craig A. Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition: Recovering the Genius of Premodern Exegesis.
Carter’s book is probably the most provocative of the ten titles on this list. Carter urges twenty-first century evangelical exegetes to consider whether they have inadvertently bought into modernist and naturalistic hermeneutical assumptions. Few will agree with everything he says, but what he does say is thought-provoking in a helpful way.
- Petrus van Mastricht, Theoretical-Practical Theology, Vol. 1.
No comment is really necessary when one of the great theological works of the Reformed tradition is translated and published. The release of the first volume of Mastricht in translation is as significant as the release of Turretin and Bavinck in English in recent decades.
- Bryan D. Estelle, Echoes of Exodus. (Alastair Roberts and Andrew Wilson, Echoes of Exodus.)
In the Old Testament, the exodus is the paradigm of God’s redemptive work, and it shapes the entire biblical narrative. In 2018, two books on this biblical theme were published by separate publishers under the same title: Echoes of Exodus. Estelle’s book is the lengthier and more academic of the two, while Alastair Roberts and Andrew Wilson’s is significantly more concise. Both are helpful in different ways.
- Scott Harrower, Trinitarian Self and Salvation: An Evangelical Engagement with Rahner’s Rule.
For those who have been following the debates over the eternal subordination of the Son, Harrower’s book is a must read. He examines and critiques the way in which many evangelical theologians have uncritically adopted the use of Karl Rahner’s Rule regarding the Trinity to the detriment of their theology. A close runner-up in the must-read category for those following this particular debate is D. Glenn Butner’s The Son Who Learned Obedience.