The 53 Best Books of 2014

2014 was a great year in Christian non-fiction, and while I doubt I saw every noteworthy title (who can?), I did come across 53 books this year that caught my attention. Here now is the list I’ll be using to select my favorite books of the year — an unenviable task:

New Hannah More Biography

moreKaren Swallow Prior’s new bio releases tomorrow, Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More — Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist (Thomas Nelson).

Here’s my endorsement:

When Christ shed his blood for women he forever exalted them to their true and undeniable dignity, Hannah More has said. Blood-bought dignity was the bedrock for all her fierce convictions. She cultivated her intellect and imagination, and helped other women do the same, knowing sharp female minds would magnify Christ-honoring femininity and strengthen marriages, homes, and churches.

Abandoned at the altar by her fiancé and never married, More poured out her life to educate women, care for the poor, pen bestselling literature, and help abolish slavery in Britain. She embraced God’s script for her life with tireless zeal. In the pages of this vibrant biography, Karen Swallow Prior paints a living picture of Hannah More: a modest and imaginative woman with the courage to cultivate biblical femininity and the wisdom to avoid the snares of early feminism. Her story must be retold in every generation. Ours is now covered.

One Anthem

This may be my favorite quote from the pen of Hannah More (1745–1833), the poet, reformer, and abolitionist, as published in The Works of Hannah More (New York; Harper & Bros., 1846), 1:434:

What a triumph for the humble Christian to be assured, that ‘the high and lofty One which inhabiteth eternity,’ condescends at the same time to dwell in the heart of the contrite — in his heart! To know that God is the God of his life, to know that he is even invited to take the Lord for his God. To close with God’s offers, to accept his invitations, to receive God as his portion, must surely be more pleasing to our heavenly Father, than separating our happiness from his glory.

To disconnect our interests from his goodness, is at once to detract from his perfections, and to obscure the brightness of our own hopes. The declarations of inspired writers are confirmed by the authority of the heavenly hosts. They proclaim that the glory of God and the happiness of his creatures, so far from interfering, are connected with each other. We know but of one anthem composed and sung by angels, and this most harmoniously combines ‘the glory of God in the highest with peace on earth and good will to men.’ …

This God is our God — God, even our own God, shall bless us. How delightful the appropriation! To glorify him as being in himself consummate excellence, and to love him from the feeling that this excellence is directed to our felicity! Here modesty would be ingratitude; disinterestedness rebellion.

This is a beautiful description of what we now call Christian Hedonism.