We may live in a “post-truth” era, awash in “fake news.” But that just means Christians will stand out as heralds of good news about the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). One way we’ll do so is by devoting ourselves to writing and reading books about the Book. That’s why The Gospel Coalition reviews more than 300 titles each year between our academic journal Themelios and our regular channel.
This year we unveil our inaugural TGC Book Awards. Working with Council members and key contributors, our editors have each identified one winner and one runner-up book in an area they regularly cover for TGC. We solicited nominations from various publishers, considered them alongside other noteworthy titles, narrowed the finalists to four for each category, sent those titles to the judges, and awaited their decisions.
Criteria for selecting the winners include:
- Offers gospel-centered argument and application.
- Includes faithful and foundational use of Scripture, both Old Testament and New Testament.
- Fosters spiritual discernment of contemporary trials and trends.
- Encourages efforts to unite and renew the church.
Indeed, these are the criteria we use for the books, articles, and curriculum we publish ourselves. We’re grateful to be joined in this weighty task of teaching and training by authors and publishers around the world, and we’re honored to highlight some of their finest work. We ask, as you scan this list for your next read or gift idea, that you not forget our brothers and sisters around the world who lack access to such faith-building and soul-stirring resources.
Congratulations to the winners of our inaugural TGC Book Awards in 2016. We encourage you to take up and read these books, then share them with family, friends, and fellow church members.
Mindy Belz. They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum. 352 pp. $25.99.
No novice could have pulled off this in-depth, on-the-ground report about one of the greatest tragedies of our day, the dislocation and suffering of ages-old Christians communities in the Middle East. And Belz, senior editor of WORLD magazine, is no journalistic novice, despite this being her first book byline. She deserves kudos for honesty and bravery in this landmark work that pulls no punches in exposing the complicity of American officials in this tragedy. The persecution stories shared by Belz make us blush at our frailty in the West as we see how much our Christian brethren in this region have endured. [interview]
Rankin Wilbourne. Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook. 320 pp. $19.99.
Judges: Collin Hansen, Afshin Ziafat, Gaye Clark, Trillia Newbell
Bible and Theology
Jen Wilkin. None Like Him: 10 Ways God Is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing). Wheaton, IL: Crossway. 176 pp. $12.99.
Stephen J. Wellum. God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. 496 pp. $40.00.
Selecting the best Bible and Theology book was unusually difficult because the two finalists are so vastly different—an apple and an orange. After much deliberation, we have concluded that a tie is the most reasonable solution.
Theological truth. Devotional warmth. Practical insight. Beautiful prose. It’s rare to encounter these four gifts in one volume, but that’s precisely what Jen Wilkin’s latest book offers. Inspired by classic works like A. W. Pink’s The Attributes of God and A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, Wilkin surveys 10 of God’s “incommunicable” attributes—characteristics he doesn’t share with humans. But what sets None Like Him apart is Wilkin’s ability to expose the subtle ways we try to play God by mimicking his unshared attributes. The idea that our Maker isn’t like us—and that it’s a good thing—is countercultural medicine for a therapeutic age. Read, worship, and buy a copy for a friend. [review | excerpt | excerpt | 20 quotes]
Stephen Wellum’s long-awaited Christology volume is here, and it doesn’t disappoint. God the Son Incarnate is a 470-page tour de force surveying the person and work of Christ from an epistemological, biblical, and ecclesiological perspective. Wellum tackles virtually every debated issue related to the person and work of Christ, making this a go-to resource for church leaders and thoughtful laypersons to have on their shelf. As Don Carson says, “This is now the handbook to give to theology students and other Christians who want to understand how confessional orthodoxy regarding the doctrine of Christ developed.”
Judges: Matt Smethurst, Mary Willson, Sam Allberry, Derek Rishmawy
Andrew and Rachel Wilson. The Life We Never Expected: Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children with Special Needs. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. 160 pp. $12.99.
The Life We Never Expected is a personal, practical, and spiritually uplifting book that will help anyone following the Lord in the midst of challenging and unexpected circumstances. Andrew and Rachel Wilson share how parenting two children with special needs has changed their view of God, suffering, and joy. This book encourages readers to embrace the life God has chosen for them, even if it looks very different from the life they would have chosen for themselves. [review | interview]
David Powlison. Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press. 256 pp. $17.99. [review]
Judges: Betsy Howard, Erik Raymond, Vermon Pierre, Melissa Kruger
Sam Serio. Sensitive Preaching to the Sexually Hurting. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel. 208 pp. $16.99.
None of the judges was familiar with this book until the publisher submitted it, but we agreed that the timing of its release could not be better. Serio’s work provides a biblical manual for how to preach God’s truth without compromise, yet with a shepherd’s heart. Every church includes people whose lives have been rocked with sexual sin from hooking up to homosexuality and transgenderism. Thus, every pastor must be equipped to deal biblically and tenderly with all manners of sexual brokenness. The tone of Serio’s work is gracious, and the wisdom contained therein is lashed snugly to the Scriptures. Every pastor needs to add this underrated book to his library.
H. B. Charles Jr. On Pastoring: A Short Guide to Living, Leading, and Ministering as a Pastor. Chicago, IL: Moody. 208 pp. $12.99.
Judges: Jeff Robinson, Jason Cook, Mike Bullmore, David Schrock
Jonathan Leeman. Political Church: The Local Assembly as Embassy of Christ’s Rule. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic. 448 pp. $40.00.
One of the more urgent questions lingering from the 2016 presidential contest is why evangelicals are so deeply divided about the role of the church in politics. In this book, Leeman brings a biblical vocabulary and framework to this unfolding story that can help us engage with each other and the public square on this question. This book, which will be a field standard text in political theology for a new generation of students, gives evidence of scholarly rigor and biblical fidelity as Leeman argues that the local church is a profoundly political assembly, and that the story of the world finds its destiny in Christ’s coming kingdom rather than in the rise of democratic modernism. [review | article]
Judges: Joe Carter, Jacqueline Isaacs, Bruce Ashford, Jennifer Marshall
Arts and Culture
Larry Alex Taunton. The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World’s Most Notorious Atheist. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 224 pp. $24.99.
Whether we realize it or not, everyone around us is searching for truth, even as they struggle with the ambiguity of life, death, and eternity. Sometimes, answers about philosophy and theology will help. But more often, non-Christians need Christian friends who will simply love them and introduce them to Jesus. Remarkably, Larry Taunton’s The Faith of Christopher Hitchens accomplishes both. Taunton’s intimate portrait of his friend—the avowed atheist Christopher Hitchens—isn’t just a thoughtful exploration of Hitchens’s unbelief or a fond recollection of their past intellectual banter. It’s a model of how to approach friendship in our increasingly secular age. It’s a model of being prepared with answers for the hope we have, but doing so with all gentleness and respect toward those we love. [review]
Timothy Keller. Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical. New York, NY: Viking. 336 pp. $27.00. [review | interview | excerpt | 20 quotes]
Judges: Alex Duke, Philip Ryken, Jackie Hill Perry, Brett McCracken
Faith and Work
Andy Crouch. Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing. Downers Grove, IL: IVP. 192 pp. $20.00.
Crouch has a good grasp of both the text of Scripture and also our cultural context, and he’s a good translator, taking robust theological ideas and making them accessible to the general interest reader. His thesis that human flourishing is embedded in the paradox of both greater authority and greater vulnerability echoes Jesus’s incarnation and teaching, and inspires the reader to pursue the far-reaching implications of the gospel in our broken world, even our broken work. [review]
R. Paul Stevens. Aging Matters: Finding Your Calling for the Rest of Your Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 160 pp. $16.00.
Judges: Bethany Jenkins, Tom Nelson, Courtney Reissig, Stephen Um
Nabeel Qureshi. No God But One: Allah or Jesus?. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 176 pp. $14.99.
Nabeel Qureshi offers a concise comparison and assessment of Islam and Christianity in an informative and compelling way. While the book aims to persuade Muslims of the truthfulness of the gospel, it also provides Christian readers with a fresh perspective on their own beliefs. As we consider our own faith through the eyes of a man who studied both religions and converted to Christ, we’ll rediscover truths that often become too familiar, and will be equipped to give a defense of the hope that is in us to our Muslim friends—at home and abroad. [review]
Hayward Armstrong. M-Life Illustrated: Reflections on the Lives of Cross-Cultural Missionaries. Nashville, TN: Rainer Publishing. 226 pp. $12.67.
Judges: Bill Walsh, Juan Sanchez, Joann Pittman, Timo Sazo