Bring on the New Books!
Summer is over and publishers are now preparing to roll out a whole new season of books. Many publishers wait until the fall to release their best books, hoping that the coming Christmas season will lead to increased sales. In the general publishing world this means that we will see new titles by Tom Clancy, Ken Follett, and even George W. Bush (who between them will outsell all Christian authors put together). Even Susan Boyle (yes, that Susan Boyle) is getting in on the act. Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars is another title that is going to be flying off store shelves.
The Christian market will also see a lot of books making noise. I have spent some time combing through publisher catalogs and am going to share with you some of the books I am most looking forward to this fall.
Before we begin, here are a few caveats: Do note that I have not yet read any of these books. I have seen manuscripts for a couple of them, but no more than that. Also, not all publishers maintain a public list of their forthcoming books (though all of them should!) so I may well have missed some exciting titles. Note as well that what I have put within quotes is description provided by the necessarily-biased publishers. Finally, these are all books set to publish between now and the end of 2010. And I think that is enough caveats. Let’s have at it.
Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change by Brian Hedges
I have done quite a bit of thinking about the centrality of the gospel to the Christian life in general and to my life in particular. It has been tough going! I am very much looking forward to having Brian Hedges’ help as I seek to turn thoughts into action. “The central claim in Christ Formed in You is that it is God’s purpose to change us by progressively making us more like Jesus, and that this happens only as we understand and apply the gospel to our lives.” I have thought a lot about the centrality of the gospel and am looking forward to having this book guide me as I attempt to move from thought to action. At the end of the introduction to the book Hedges writes, “In each of these chapters, my aim has been to connect the dots between the gospel, the goal of Christlikeness, and the specific aspect of spirituality under discussion.” That sounds like just the thing! (October 1 | Shepherd Press | Pre-Order)
Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition by James K.A. Smith
“Letters to a Young Calvinist provides pastoral and theological counsel, encouraging converts to and participants in this tradition to find in Calvin a vision that’s even bigger than the New Calvinism might suggest. Noted Reformed philosopher James K. A. Smith contends that much of what traffics under the banner of New Calvinism reduces ‘Reformed’ to a narrow concern with Calvinistic soteriology. Smith introduces New Calvinists to the ‘world-formative’ Christianity that was unleashed with the Reformation, presenting the Reformed tradition as an Augustinian renewal movement within the church catholic. Offering wisdom at the intersection of theology and culture, he also provides pastoral caution about pride and maturity.” I may well be among those who is Reformed more in soteriology than in a well-rounded way, and I am looking forward to being challenged by what “Reformed” means in its historical context. (November 1 | Brazos Press | Pre-Order)
Handel’s Messiah: Comfort for God’s People by Calvin R. Stapert
Attending a performance of Messiah is a Christmas tradition I love and I am eagerly anticipating this book which seeks to make that tradition even more enjoyable. “George Frideric Handel's oratorio Messiah is a phenomenon with no parallel in music history. No other work of music has been so popular for so long. Yet familiarity can sometimes breed indifference -- and even misunderstanding.This book by music expert Calvin Stapert will greatly increase listeners' understanding and appreciation of Handel's majestic Messiah, whether readers are old friends of this remarkable work or have only just discovered its magnificence.” While we are on the subject, have you purchased your Messiah tickets yet? They are probably on sale right now. (September 15 | Eerdmans | Pre-Order)
Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper
If you read my blog consistently, you know that I am not one who automatically reads the newest books by John Piper. But in this case I’m very intrigued as the life of the mind is an issue near and dear to me. “John Piper's newest book will help Christians think about thinking. Focusing on the life of the mind helps us to know God better, love him more, and care for the world. Along with an emphasis on emotions and the experience of God, we also need to practice careful thinking about God. Piper contends that "thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God." So how are we to maintain a healthy balance of mind and heart, thinking and feeling? Piper urges us to think for the glory of God. He demonstrates from Scripture that glorifying God with our minds and hearts is not either-or, but both-and. Thinking carefully about God fuels passion and affections for God. Likewise, Christ-exalting emotion leads to disciplined thinking.” (September 30 | Crossway | Pre-Order)
Herman Bavinck: Pastor, Churchman, Statesman and Theologian by Ron Gleason
Herman Bavinck is one of those theologians whose importance is probably underestimated by most of us. I am glad to see that Ron Gleason, a family friend and former pastor, has written a thorough biography of the man. It is long overdue, I’m sure. “Highlighting the breadth of Herman Bavinck's experience in theology and politics, Ronald N. Gleason offers the English-speaking world a vivid picture of the Dutch theologian's life. Gleason, a leading authority on Bavinck's life and ideas, brings to light Bavinck's rich family heritage and contends that his family background played a crucial role in the development of the man who wrote the magisterial Reformed Dogmatics.” (October | P&R | Pre-Order)
Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free by Tim Chester
Yes, there are hundreds of books about pornography already available. But until the problem disappears, we will continue to need to remind men of what pornography is doing to them. “Pornography is everywhere. Far too many Christians regularly use and are addicted to it, warping their perception of sexuality and relationships, destroying marriages and ministries. But Christians who struggle with porn also long for change. When we realize the unfulfilling emptiness of porn, we come to yearn for freedom from it. But what do we do? Tim Chester says that we can be captured by a better vision—a liberating confidence that God offers more than pornography does. Moving beyond pat answers or mere willpower, Chester offers spiritual, practical and corporate resources for living porn free. He exposes the false promises of porn and redirects us to the true promises of God.” (November 8 | IVP Books | Pre-Order)
Inside the Voyage of the Dawn Treader by Devin Brown
One of the best parts of a new Narnia movie is the accompanying new book from Devin Brown. He has already written books about the first two movies and both have been excellent. I’m very glad to see that he is returning with a new book for the new film. “Lewis scholar and author Devin Brown takes you through The Voyage of the Dawn Treader chapter by chapter, illuminating the features of C. S. Lewis’s writing, providing supplemental information on Lewis’s life and other books, offering comments and opinions from other students of Lewis, and uncovering the work’s rich meanings.” (October 1 | Baker | Pre-Order)
Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller
If I’m no Piperite, I’m also no Kellerite. And yet like Piper, Keller makes me think and he makes me think in new and interesting ways. While i find that I sometimes disagree with what he writes, still I enjoy the journey and find that it benefits me. “It is commonly thought in secular society that the Bible is one of the greatest hindrances to doing justice. Isn’t it full of regressive views? Didn’t it condone slavery? Why look to the Bible for guidance on how to have a more just society? But Timothy Keller sees it another way. In Generous Justice, Keller explores a life of justice empowered by an experience of grace: a generous, gracious justice. Here is a book for believers who find the Bible a trustworthy guide as well as those who suspect that Christianity is a regressive influence in the world.” (Dutton | November 2 | Pre-Order)
Let’s turn to a few reference works that also look intriguing.
The Gospel of John by J. Ramsey Michaels (NICNT)
This is now the second volume dedicated to John in the NICNT series and this one will replace the 1971 effort by Leon Morris (so buy the old one now if you want it!). “In this detailed, elegantly written commentary J. Ramsey Michaels gives primary attention to the Gospel of John in its present form rather than to the sources or traditions behind it. Michaels examines both the Gospel's literary character and its theological significance for the Christian community in its own time and through the ages. This landmark commentary--seventeen years in the making, reflecting fifty years of classroom teaching, and packed with fresh insights--will prove highly useful to scholars, students, and, especially, pastors.” (September 15 | Eerdmans | Pre-Order)
The First Letter to the Corinthians by Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner (PNTC)
This volume on 1 Corinthians continues the excellent Pillar New Tesatment Commentary series (edited by D.A. Carson). “This careful, sometimes innovative, mid-level commentary touches on an astonishingly wide swath of important, sensitive issues -- theological and pastoral -- that have urgent resonances in twenty-first-century life. Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner reveal how 1 Corinthians directly addresses the claims of unity and truth, church discipline, sexual matters, the Lord's supper, the nature of love, Christian leadership, and many other significant topics. Those who preach and teach 1 Corinthians will be grateful to Ciampa and Rosner for years to come and scholars will be challenged to see this letter with fresh eyes.” (October 15 | Eerdmans | Pre-Order)
The Eerdmans Companion to the Bible by Gordon Fee and Robert Hubbard Jr.
This book promises “over two hundred user-friendly maps, charts, graphics, and photos bring ancient places to life. Numerous articles offer significant insights into the Bible’s people, places, and main ideas. Travelers who visit specific individual books will find in-depth, illuminating commentary based on up-to-date research. Reflecting a broad evangelical perspective, The Eerdmans Companion to the Bible continues the publisher’s proud tradition of providing quality biblical resources for nearly a century. This handy guidebook promises to make the Word of God come alive as never before.” I don’t exactly know what to expect from The Eerdmans Companion to the Bible but I am looking forward to it nonetheless. (September 29 | Eerdmans | Pre-Order)
The Message of Obadiah, Nahum and Zephaniah by Gordon Bridger (BST)
Like most commentary series, the Bible Speaks Today is a little bit uneven with some volumes being far superior to others. But when the volumes are good, I find them very, very helpful (especially as someone who does not have formal theological training). I am hoping that this is one of the good ones. “Obadiah, Nahum and Zephaniah are probably among the least-read books of the Bible, and rarely preached. However, Gordon Bridger encourages us to study and apply these three Old Testament prophets for several compelling reasons. … Hence, these challenging books tackle themes and issues, expounded here with clarity and conviction, which are especially relevant to todays church and world.” (December 5 | IVP Academic | Pre-Order)
And there we have it—twelve new books I am looking forward to reading this fall. What books have caught your eye?