Posted by: Tim | January 19, 2009

Books I read in 2008

Below is a list of the books I read in 2008. Looking it over, I would say I didn’t quite read enough, and that I got bogged down in a few that I just found to be tough reading. Maybe I’ll put those sort down this year so that I don’t spend a month or two on one book, or maybe I’ll get more disciplined and plow through them! We’ll see. I guess 16 books isn’t too bad, but then again I recently read that US President George Bush read something like 50+ books last year, all while leading the free world on the side.

Here’s my list, with some links to reviews I wrote on some of them.

1. The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel – I read this near the beginning of last year – like all of Strobel’s “Case for…” books it was interesting and helpful (but his apparent downplay of biblical inerrancy in one chapter was a bit troubling). I enjoyed it and read it quickly. Recommended with that one caution regarding inerrancy.

2. Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg – This is an end times / prophetic book with speculations about the future in light of the prophesied war of Gog and Magog (see Ezekiel 38-39). It was very interesting though if you don’t have a premillennial dispensational bent, you probably won’t like it. It was by far the most viewed page on my blog in 2008 (over 1000 hits), as I think a lot of people bought and read this book and wanted to learn more, being shocked by what Rosenberg wrote. My review is here. Recommended (but take it for what it is – interesting but speculative.)

3. The Gospel According to the Apostles by John MacArthur – I really enjoyed this one. It is MacArthur at his best. My review is here. It was one of the most visited page on my site in 2008, which is interesting considering that this book is about 15 years old. Recommended.

4. The Courage to be Protestant by David Wells (no not the former Blue Jays southpaw). This book summarizes his previous three books about the troubled stated of the evangelical church. I found it to be good, but difficult reading at times, due to some wordiness to make a point. I don’t think I read the entire thing, but I did get through most of it! Recommended.

5. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer – This book is considered a classic on evangelism. It isn’t very long but it is very good.  My review is here. Recommended.

6. Why We’re Not Emergent by Two Guys Who Should Be by  Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck   – I found this book very interesting as it deals with an area that concerns me in the evangelical world – the emergent church (calling some emergents ‘evangelical’ is probably generous, but the impact is definitely felt in evangelical churches). The authors put some of my concerns into words and I found it to be easy but stimulating reading. Best line in the book (paraphrase): “So I’m riding with D.A. Carson in my Toyota Echo.” There’s just something really funny to me about the idea of Carson riding around in a Toyota Echo. Recommended.

7. Tell the Truth by Will Metzger – This is a book about evangelism that I found very good, but I also found it to be tough slogging to get through it. I haven’t actually finished it yet, but plan to, sometime…. Recommended.

8. The Future of Justification by John Piper – Piper’s book is a theological work responding to the well known theologian N.T. Wright.  My review is here. Recommended, but probably not for everyone. There are other John Piper books you will want to read first, such as Don’t Waste Your Life.

9. The Shack by William P. Young – I had little desire to read this book but with everyone in evangelicalism reading it, I felt I had to read it to get a firsthand opinion of it. It is a big mish-mash of good and bad theology and it is often hard to separate the good from the bad. I know…it’s just a novel, not a theological treatise. For years the postmodern folks have been telling us we need to use stories to communicate theology to this generation (instead of propositions), so Young goes and does just that, and critics are told to ‘chill out’, it’s a story not theology. You can’t have it both ways. My review is here. It has been one of the most read reviews on my blog in 2008. Not recommended.

10. The Case for Amillennialism by Kim Riddlebarger – I’ve often wondered why some people believe in amillennialism, and since many of them are smart people (well otherwise smart people…hehe… just kidding, no letters please), I thought I would read a book about it that gets good reviews from the amillennial camp. It is well written but at times tedious (one thing you gotta say for dispensational premillennial books is that they are usually pretty exciting!). I am about 3/4 of the way through it – I find it hard to read more than 20 pages in one sitting. I am enjoying the exegetical part in the end more than the theological argument in the beginning. I’m curious what he’s going to do with Revelation 20. Recommended, with caution that I think amillennialism is the wrong position, but the book is good for a better understanding of amillennialism.

11. Progressive Dispensationalism by Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock. This is a book about a modified form of dispensationalism. I did my best, but this one was dull. I gave up about 2/3 in. Maybe someday I’ll finish it. Perhaps it would be more interesting to someone with a better handle on the intricacies of the ongoing debates between dispensationalism and covenant theology. I can’t recommend this one not because it doesn’t have good things to say but because it was just so dry. Not recommended.

12. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper – Our staff team has been reading this one devotionally in our staff meeting. We haven’t quite finished it, but I thought I’d put it under 2008 anyway. It’s a great book, and a challenging one – Piper at his best. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover but this one is an exception – I love the cover (the original one with the cross, not the new edition with the parking lot). Recommended.

13. Culture Shift by Al Mohler – This is a short little book that deals with cultural issues, especially in the USA, but they are mostly relevant here in Canada as well. A quick, good read. My review is here. Recommended.

14. The Reason for God by Tim Keller – This highly anticipated book by Tim Keller is written primarily for non-Christians to take a reasoned look at Christianity. However it is a great apologetics book for Christians as well. Though I didn’t always agree with Keller, I found it very helpful overall. My review is here. Recommended.

15. Money, Possessions, and Eternity, by Randy Alcorn – I read this book as part of my studies for the “Where Your Treasure is” sermon series (You can click here for this and other sermon series on the Prairie Tab website).  I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t read it cover to cover, but I jumped around quite a bit. Alcorn really gets in your face about what the Bible has to say about finances and I appreciated his insights and his forthrightness. Recommended.

16. Before God’s Wrath by H. L. Nigro – This is a book that explains the pre-wrath rapture position on the end times. I think the position has some merits, but also some problems that I won’t get into in this brief review. The book is a bit wordy and probably a little too long, but I enjoyed it. Recommended, with the caution that it needs to be read a bit critically and in comparison with other rapture views.

Well that’s all I can remember for now, aside from a few others that I looked at in my studies for preaching, but most of which I only read smaller sections.

What did you read this year? Feel free to post your favourites in the comments below.


  1. It’s always interesting to hear about what people have been reading. Hey, maybe I’ll even read some of these… someday… the short ones… maybe. Although, as my pastor, I admit to being a little bit concerned that you haven’t read the Bible at all this last year. I hear it’s really good.

  2. Hi Tim,

    It is good to see you reading some of the books from T4G.

    I must admit that I find your candid comments about not finishing books to be quite refreshing! Often I don’t finish a book simply because it is so poorly written or argued.

    May your ministry continue to flourish brother!


  3. Hey Ben,

    You’ll be happy to know that I’m thinking about reading the Bible this year… I’ve also heard it’s very good.


  4. Hey Clint,

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. May the Lord also bless you in your ministry in Calgary.


  5. Thanks for sharing your book list. I sometimes find it hard to know what books are best to read. I too read Why We’re Not Emergent by Two Guys Who Should Be by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck and loved it. It really helped me wade through some confusion I had, as did some Mark Driscoll downloads. By far I will not forget Ravi’s response on the subject, “When did they become bored with God?” May we never become bored with God! I also have The Courage to be Protestant by David Wells beside my bed half read. I heard him on The Whitehorse Inn discussing Christless Christianity and I wanted to read it….haven’t read it much in 2009 though, but the year is young lol. By far the easiest read, comfort and clarity came from R.C.’s The Holiness of God and What is Reformed Theology? For the Davisons, 2008 has been a big year. A seed was planted by leading a Focus’ Truth Project group in 2007/2008 that resolved in us to go hard after Truth … and as Del Tackett would say, our “cocoon struggle” as left us changed by reformed thought. It has impacted our theology, our marriage and our parenting. So that’s where my book favorites’ theme has been this past year.
    Pastor Tim, we appreciate your preaching through Bible books and love your willingness to answer your flocks’ questions ‘on the spot’. It shows confidence in God’s Word to speak for itself and a love for the people God has given you. Know that you and your family are in our prayers. Hope you are feeling better and that Carol will have a special bday tomorrow!

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