By Nathan Finn, Teaching Pastor
The end of the year is the time for book recommendations. I wanted to share some of my favorite books that were published in 2023.
Kevin DeYoung, Impossible Christianity: Why Following Jesus Does Not Mean You Have to Change the World, Be an Expert in Everything, Accept Spiritual Failure, and Feel Miserable Pretty Much All the Time (Crossway, 2023). Here is a good rule of thumb: everything Kevin DeYoung writes is worth reading. He is a gifted pastor-theologian who makes doctrine accessible for non-scholars. In this book, DeYoung offers a realistic, grace-filled approach to the Christian life.
Jen Wilkin and J.T. English, You Are a Theologian: An Invitation to Know and Love God Well (B&H Books, 2023). This is a wonderful lay-level introduction to basic Christian theology. The book’s premise is apparent in the title: everybody is a theologian—including you. I suspect I will be recommending this book to church members for many years to come as a good place to begin one’s study of theology.
Coleman Ford, Formed in His Image: A Guide for Christian Formation (B&H Books, 2023). Ford offers a theologically rich introduction to spiritual formation that offers a sure foundation for our practice of the spiritual disciplines. This book is a great companion to David Mathis’s Habits of Grace, which our ministry team regularly recommends to church members.
Samuel James, Digital Liturgies: Rediscovering Christian Wisdom in an Online Age (Crossway, 2023). If you are like me, you probably know—or at least suspect—that you sometimes have an unhealthy relationship with screens. This is one of the most helpful books I’ve read about how to think Christianly about screens and their impact on our lives.
Katie J. McCoy, To Be a Woman: The Confusion Over Female Identity and How Christians Can Respond (B&H Books, 2023). Katie McCoy is a gifted theologian who is committed to helping women, parents, and the church navigate faithfully issues of gender identity. This can be a tough read at times because the topic is so difficult. But I would recommend it to every parent or anyone who works regularly with young people.
Nancy R. Pearcey, The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (Baker Books, 2023). Pearcey is a perceptive writer about the intersection of faith and culture. In this book, she enters into the debate about gender roles, arguing that a biblical worldview helps us to rightly understand this important topic, including the difference between biblical manhood and disordered understandings of masculinity.
Andrew Wilson, Remaking the World: How 1776 Created the Post-Christian West (Crossway, 2023). This is an outstanding and accessible history about how to understand the ideas that have shaped our contemporary world. Even as the West becomes increasingly post-Christian, it does so in ways that continue to reflect the lingering influence of a biblical worldview. I wrote a review of this book for The Gospel Coalition.
Collin Hansen, Timothy Keller: His Spiritual and Intellectual Formation (Crossway, 2023). Tim Keller went to be with the Lord this past summer after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was an influential pastor in New York and a bestselling author whom the Lord used to reach many skeptics, as well as those who had previously drifted away from the faith. I’m grateful for Pastor Keller’s ministry and really enjoyed this wonderful biography.
Neil Shenvi and Pat Sawyer, Critical Dilemma: The Rise of Critical Theories and Social Justice Ideology―Implications for the Church and Society (Harvest House, 2023). This book is perhaps the most difficult read on this list, but I still wanted to recommend it because it addresses such an important topic. Many believers are understandably concerned about how various anti-Christian ideologies are influencing our cultural debates about race, gender, and justice. Shenvi and Sawyer help us to navigate these issues faithfully. Highly recommended.
Daniel Akin, David Dockery, and Nathan Finn, eds., A Handbook of Theology (B&H Academic, 2023). I confess I co-edited and contributes to this volume. But I would recommend it even if I was not involved. This is more of a reference work that provides brief introductory essays to nearly 50 theological topics. I wrote the essay on the doctrine of sanctification.
Two bonus recommendations from my wife, Leah.
Glenna Marshall, Memorizing Scripture: The Basics, Blessings, and Benefits of Meditating on God’s Word (Moody, 2023). Memorizing Scripture can seem daunting. Our friend Glenna Marshall, a pastor’s wife in Missouri, has written this book to help you take the plunge with this important spiritual discipline. This would be a great book to read with your spouse or an accountability partner.
Lucy S.R. Austen, Elisabeth Elliot: A Life (Crossway, 2023). Elisabeth Elliot has influenced countless believers with her writings on missions, sexual purity, and biblical womanhood. This biography introduces readers to this remarkable woman. It strikes a good balance between being appreciative of Elliot while also presenting her as a real person with real struggles.