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My Top Books of 2022

My Top Books of 2022

As another year draws to a close, I wanted to take some time to consider the books I read in 2022 and to assemble a list of my top picks. Apart from the first book, which I consider the best I read this year, the rest are in no particular order. In each case I’ve included a brief excerpt from my review. (You can read all of my book reviews here.)

Only HumanYou’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic. You know as well as I do that you are a finite being. Yet you know as well as I do that at times you fight against your finitude, you battle against your inevitable limits and boundaries as if they are a problem to be overcome or even a sin to be repented of. Yet what if your limits are not a bug but a feature of your humanity? What if these limitations are God’s gift and, therefore, good and worthy of embrace? These are the questions Kapic considers in this book. The answers are rooted in Scripture and tremendously encouraging. Best of all, it frees us to be who and what God created us to be–people who are little, limited, finite, and deeply loved. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books | read my review)

the Air We BreatheThe Air We Breathe: How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress, and Equality by Glen Scrivener. In the West today we are witnessing an attempt to “dechristianize” our society—to identify and destroy the influence of Christianity wherever it exists. The goal, of course, is to create a society that is post-Jesus and, therefore, post-Christian. Christian sexual morals are now said to be bigotry, Christian understandings of marriage and family are now said to be oppressive, Christian notions of justice are now said to be discriminatory. On and on it goes and over time this seek-and-destroy mission is transforming society around us. But there is a strange irony to all of this—an irony few people are willing to understand or acknowledge: the very tools people use to criticize Christianity are tools they owe to Christianity. This is the fascinating subject of Scrivener’s book. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books | read my review)

The Men We NeedThe Men We Need: God’s Purpose for the Manly Man, the Avid Indoorsman, or Any Man Willing to Show Up by Brant Hansen. This is one of two books I read this year that deals with masculinity. And though I’m certain this has always been a crucial subject for Christian men, it must be particularly crucial right now when the society around us is both disparaging and seeking to overthrow all notions of masculinity. The Men We Need is not one of those books—those trite and cheesy books for men that focuses on a clichéd version of masculinity bound to a particular culture and a bygone century. Hansen isn’t advocating a form of masculinity that depends on swinging hammers, wrestling bears, or distributing swords. In fact, he says he’s not even capable of writing that book because “I don’t even hunt. I play the accordion. … I’m an avid indoorsman. I own puppets.” He advocates something far better, far purer, and far more biblical. (Buy it at Amazon | read my review)

Strange New WorldStrange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution by Carl Trueman. Whatever else is true of the modern, Western world, this much is beyond dispute: It is not what it used to be. We have entered into a new world that is very different from the one that came before, a new world that in many ways feels so very strange. Many of us feel like immigrants who have inadvertently found ourselves in a new world and are learning to adapt to its new rules, its new norms, its new mores. Many of us are struggling to do so. Carl Trueman has studied the origins of these changes and written about them first in The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self and then in this more reader-friendly work. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books | read my review)

PurePure: Why the Bible’s Plan for Sexuality Isn’t Outdated, Irrelevant, or Oppressive by Dean Inserra. Do you remember the purity movement? Or perhaps it’s better to ask this: How could you possibly forget the purity movement? Though in many ways its aims were noble—sexual purity among teens and young adults—its methods were more than a little suspect and, in the long run, often even harmful. Dean Inserra witnessed this movement as an evangelical teen and this book is his analysis and response. It is a good and helpful book that insightfully analyzes the shortcomings of the purity movement and offers a much better, much more compelling, and much more biblically-grounded vision for singleness, dating, marriage, and sex. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books | read my review)

Embracing ComplementarianismEmbracing Complementarianism: Turning Biblical Convictions into Positive Church Culture by Graham Beynon & Jane Tooher. My convictions of gender roles in church and family align with complementarianism—the view that God, while creating men and women equal in value and dignity, has ordained a kind of complementarity between them so that in the home and church men are to take a position of Christ-like leadership. But while I find the Bible leading me to complementarian convictions in a relatively straightforward way, what has been far more difficult is working out exactly what this looks like in real life. That’s the subject of this book, to promote a complentarianism that is faithful to God’s Word, that celebrates both the distinction and equality of the genders, and that frees both men and women to serve in all the ways God permits and invites them to. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books | read my review)

The ManualThe Manual: Getting Masculinity Right by Al Stewart. This is the second book on masculinity I read this year. It is well-documented that masculinity has fallen on hard times. In fact, when we hear it spoken of at all, it is most often with the word “toxic” preceding it. If not that, it is presenting a new form of masculinity that looks suspiciously like femininity. Society has many ways of disparaging masculinity but almost no good or healthy vision for it. Little wonder, then, that men are confused about what it means to be a man, to be manly, to be masculine. Into this void steps Stewart with his attempt to bring his self-described “crusty-old-bloke perspectives.” And, better, his drawn-from-the-Bible and good-old-fashioned-common-sense perspectives. It’s well worth a read. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books | read my review)

When Church Leadership Goes WrongPowerful Leaders?: When Church Leadership Goes Wrong And How to Prevent It by Marcus Honeysett. Over the past few years we have witnessed quite a number of leadership failures within the church. We have learned of pastors who have used their position to enrich themselves, to use their prominence to run roughshod over others, to use their prestige to feed their flesh. Some of these failures have been shocking, some almost expected. Some of these failures have been public, some very quiet. But each of them has, in its own way, been grievous and harmful. Each of them shows that, at times, leadership can go tragically wrong. Honeycutt’s book is about what happens when leadership goes wrong and how to prevent it. (Buy it at Amazon | read my review)

Retractions: Cultivating Humility After Humiliation by Pat Nemmers. We all have a few memories that cause us to cringe, memories of things we did or things we said that leave shame flooding our minds and little trickles of sweat running down our foreheads. Embarrassing things. Awkward things. Shameful things. Sinful things. Most of us do our best to push these memories away, to do all we can to get them out of our minds. But what if they can actually provide valuable lessons for our own lives and those of other people? Pat Nemmers’ book is meant to help us embrace these memories so we can allow them to grow in humility and serve others. (Buy it at Amazon | read my review)

TurnaroundTurnaround: The Remarkable Story of an Institutional Transformation and the 10 Essential Principles and Practices that Made It Happen by Jason Allen. For the past 10 years, since he was 35 years old, Allen has been the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He took on the position at a time when the seminary was in grave peril—it was mired in controversy, burdened with debt, and financially upside-down. Its campus facilities were in a state of disrepair and its faculty undistinguished. Little wonder, then, that there was talk of closing it down. Today, though, MBTS is a thriving and world-class institution that is financially solvent, that has strong campus morale, that features some lovely new buildings, and that is the envy of many other seminaries. Under Allen’s leadership and through God’s kind providence it has experienced a significant turnaround—a turnaround that he uses to illustrate principles of Christian leadership. (Buy it at Amazon | read my review)

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