Because I try to stay on top of new theology book releases from Christian publishers, when I choose my books of the year, they are mostly from the field of Christian books. I do read many other books published by “secular” presses throughout the year, but I rarely read them in the same year they are published. This year, for example, I finally got around to reading Laura Hillenbrand’s incredible book Unbroken, although it was a 2010 release. And I do plan to read Walter Isaacson’s 2011 release Steve Jobs, but probably not for another year or so. So when I choose my favorite books for 2011 they are Christian books.
Choosing my top two favorites published in 2011 was no challenge. Here they are:
First, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New by G. K. Beale. The theme of “inaugurated eschatology” is not a new one in theology, but there doesn’t seem to have been many attempts to center a full theology of the Bible around the theme. Enter Beale. Beale’s work is a massive and excellent contribution, arguing that eschatology is not something relegated merely to the future. For Beale, the end-time new creation has already begun, a fact that permeates our Bibles. And he’s spot on.
Second, The Theology of Jonathan Edwards by Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott. In the last few years Yale has completed their online archive of the writings of Jonathan Edwards, so it was only a matter of time before we saw attempts to bring theological synthesis to his writings. This is the first major attempt. I’m certain more will follow in the future, but this one is a gem — readable, enjoyable, and a comprehensive look at the many God-centered facets of Edwards’ thinking. “One might interpret the whole of Edwards’s theology as the gradual, complex outworking of a vision of God’s beauty.” Bingo! In this sense McClymond and McDermott “get” Edwards’s theology.
And here is my full top-ten list:
- Greg Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Baker)
- McClymond and McDermott, The Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Oxford)
- Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God (Dutton)
- Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Zondervan)
- Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Abridged in One Volume (Baker)
- John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God (P&R), technically released at the end of 2010.
- Jared Wilson, Gospel-Wakefulness (Crossway)
- Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus (Dutton)
- Russell Moore, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ (Crossway)
- DeYoung and Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission (Crossway)