1. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson). Bonhoeffer's story will never grow old, because his courage and commitment to God transcend time and place. Metaxas devoted years to chronicling this amazing martyr's life, and we're thankful that he did.
2. Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just, by Tim Keller (Dutton). Unlike previous Keller books, I didn't read this one right away when it was published. No wonder: I came away from the book agonizing over my selfishness and lack of compassion for the poor. But this book is no mere guilt trip. Keller helps readers marvel at God's unmerited favor shown to sinners.
3. To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, by James Davison Hunter (Oxford). Rarely do books change the conversation from the academic level all the way down to everyday conversations. But Hunter lends intellectual muscle to many Christians' unease about contemporary models of cultural engagement and suggests “faithful presence” as the way forward.
4. City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era, by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner (Moody). In the interest of full disclosure, this book appeared in Moody's Cultural Renewal series, which I edit with Tim Keller. That means I read it twice, and both times I was deeply impressed with how Gerson and Wehner navigate complex political issues based on their understanding of Scripture, grasp of history, and experience in the White House.
5. What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert (Crossway). Debates over the gospel's definition continue to crop up in this era of evangelical confusion. Gilbert has wrestled with the high-level theology, pored over God's Word, and written a book you can hand your neighbors to introduce them to Jesus.
1. The Trials of Theology: Becoming a “Proven Worker” in a Dangerous Business, by Andrew J. Cameron and Brian S. Rosner, eds (Christian Focus). Ten essays—five old, five new—explain why the head-heart separation is a false dichotomy and what theological students should do about it. (Cf. the chapter by Don Carson.)
2. The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God's Story, D. A. Carson (Baker). Fourteen talks trace the turning points of the Bible's storyline in a way that simultaneously evangelizes non-Christians and edifies Christians. (Corresponding video, audio, and a leader's guide are available.)
3. Politics—According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture, by Wayne Grudem (Zondervan). This textbook is relatively comprehensive, clear, accessible, and largely persuasive.
4. For the Fame of God's Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, by Justin Taylor and Sam Storms, eds (Crossway). Twenty-seven friends of John Piper contribute to this wide-ranging theological Festschrift (Cf. the chapter by Don Carson.)
5. The Theology of B. B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary, by Fred G. Zaspel (Crossway). Zaspel skillfully synthesizes the works of Warfield, a theological giant who wrote prolifically but didn't write a systematic theology.
1. Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom, by Peter Leithart (IVP). Leithart offers a compelling thesis that goes against the opinion of every Tom, Dick, and Hauweras. It's well-researched and reads like a novel.
2. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality, by Wesley Hill (Zondervan). With a combination of honest reflection on deep personal struggles and profound theological insights, Hill's book seems ideal for anyone struggling with homosexuality or those trying to minister to homosexuals. Hill is a gifted writer, and I loved this book.
3. You Can Change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions, Tim Chester (Crossway). This book is full of pastoral wisdom. It provides a vision of sanctification grounded in the gospel that doesn't overlook the realities of sin.
4. The Westminster Assembly: Reading its Theology in Historical Context, Robert Letham (P&R). There's something refreshing about a sophisticated theologian and a great historian combined in one person—one book, even! For this baptist, the book is good all around.
5. Living in God's Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture, by David VanDrunen (Crossway). I don't agree with every conclusion VanDrunen proposes, but he furthers this heated discussion with biblical and theological sophistication. Any responses to his argument will need to do the same.