* Not all of these were published in 2012, I only read them in 2012.
10. Religion & It’s Monsters by Timothy K. Beal
Great and honest read that forces us to come to grips with the demons that haunt and possess, or at least, threaten us as religious people with religious lives and commitments. Very fun book that interplay’s between cultural conceptions of the monstrous and scriptural conceptions of evil.
9. Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird
Perhaps the best book on the Contemplative Life I have ever read. Recommended to me by Randy Harris, this book drastically reshaped my own prayer life in 2012.
8. Practicing the Way of Jesus by Mark Scandrette
Another book recommended to my by Randy Harris. Scandrette offers an alternative to structures of faith communities that simply amass information about God, and instead imitate God by following Jesus. Read Practicing the Way of Jesus and catch a vision for what could happen if people started experimenting/practicing following Jesus in their everyday life.
7. Christ & Horrors by Marilyn McCord Adams
Some tragedies are worse than awful. Some things are so bad and horrible that everyday language about “evil” does not seem to suffice. Marilyn McCord Adams suggests horrors are those things that happen in life that make the future prospects for meaningfulness bleak. When such things occur, what does Jesus have to say? Taking Job as a prototype for Christology and how God has dealt with horrors in and through Jesus, Adams offers a help in making sense of a sometimes horror-wrecked world.
6. Free of Charge by Miroslav Volf
Our culture is not built on giving or forgiving. It is built on judgment and retributive justice. Turn on the TV. We like courtroom sagas. We like to judge people by surface appearances. But a voice comes to us calling us to a deeper, richer, more meaningful life – a life marked by giving and forgiving. Not only does Volf offer cultural critique that is both prophetic and pastoral/loving, but offers real/tangible alternatives to a culture stripped of grace.
5. A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf
One of the more important books facing Christianity in America today is Volf’s “A Public Faith.” Christian public witness has all but lost its influence with trite language and petty politics. Volf offers us a way forward, reshaping our primary political concerns, and denouncing both idle faith (faith that does nothing to change the world) and coercive faith (faith that imposes itself by means of power on the world). There is a third way. Read to catch a glimpse of hope for American Christianity in the public sphere.
4. How God Became King by N.T. Wright
What can I say? It’s N.T. Wright. He is the clearest and most insightful of scholars, and he brings that clarity and insight with him to address the deepest concern of the Gospels – the king and the kingdom.
3. The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight
What is the gospel? Forgiveness of sins? Future hope only? McKnight offers us language to name why evangelicals in America have a “soterian” gospel and not a “holistic” gospel. And he says with shocking biblical focus why we do not have a “full biblical gospel” and how we might recover it and proclaim it.
2. The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith
A very rewarding read about evangelical biblicism and why it is not a sustaining or possible approach to scripture. Smith is very helpful in offering better approaches to scripture that eliminate pathological needs for scripture to read a certain way to sustain a certain worldview that simply will not square with its original intent. Anyone who loves biblical interpretation will love this book.
1. Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron
Buy a copy. Read it. Read it again. Buy more copies. Pass them out. Life-altering, world-re-creating, reconciling, hoping. Beautiful memoir of sorts. Easily the best book I read this year.