Here is a summary of my take on the different books I read this year:
Pursuing Justice – This was an excellent examination of what justice really means and is pursued from Biblical perspective. Our world, even our churches, have dramatically varying ideas of what justice is, and Ken Wytsma does a fantastic job of calling us to cast aside apathy and distorted ideas to pursue God’s vision of justice.
Unfinished – This is Richard Stearn’s 2nd book, after the Hole in Our Gospel. This book gives a solid Biblical and moral explanation of why we need to engage in every global dimension of redemption and fighting poverty and how we can pursue that. If you have not read his first book, I think the Hole in Our Gospel is a better book, delightfully candid in telling how God worked in his life, and generally more engaging. However, Unfinished, while more serious, is a good follow-up book, adding more Biblical support and details.
Orthodoxy – I read some of G.K Chesterton’s classic. His brilliant writing is certainly on display here, with great quotes abounding. This book is kind of meandering, as Chesterton takes up various different lines of thought, and I had a difficult time staying focused.
Poverty of the Nations – This takes up the incredibly valuable task of looking at how we can effectively help fight global poverty. Unfortunately, this book often seems to be shaped more by American neoliberalism ideology, than thorough Biblical theology. They provide numerous suggestions for just and fair government structures that will give citizens maximum opportunity to freely pursue economic opportunities. However, when it comes to issues including taxation, welfare, aid, and debt forgiveness, a distorted theological foundation and sloppy economic analysis lead to poorly supported claims. There are some good suggestions for developing countries, but it provides little solid direction for us in developed countries in helping those in developing countries. I wrote a much more detailed response/review here.
Discipleshift – This book looks at how to make disciples and challenges churches to make discipleship central to every ministry of the church, evaluating ministries based on their propensity to lead to new disciples. The authors premise for this book is that the church should be primarily focused on discipleship and training. This book made me think a lot about the relationship between the church and the Kingdom of God, and if the church should actually be a relatively small subset of the Kingdom (surely one should only spend a fraction of the time on training compared to the time spent on what you have actually trained for).
Toxic Charity – This book delves into the critical topic of how Christians can fight poverty effectively. The author has some valuable experience from urban ministry and makes some good points, but unfortunately this book is too ideological, and not very well researched. I have more detailed review here.
Loving Your Kids on Purpose – This book gave us some interesting perspectives on raising children, and raised some good points about leading your children to make decisions, in freedom, based on relational motivations, instead of just pursuing conformity out of fear of punishment. From what I understand many of the ideas came from Love and Logic (which I have not read). However, I found this book to be quite poorly written, relying far too heavily on sarcasm and contrived examples.