Books I Heard or Read in 2020

As the hell year of 2020 closes out, I wanted to post the books I heard and read in 2020.

I’ll begin with the ones I heard (I listened to some Star Wars novels, but I don’t feel the need to highlight them).

Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson – S.C Gwynne

A wonderful biography. Because Jackson was a Confederate general (and one of the greatest in all of American history), he is treated by our woke moderns as a racist villain. He was nothing of the sort, even founding the first black Sunday school to teach literacy and biblical theology to the slaves.

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution – Nathaniel Philbrick

Philbrick is a brilliant historian on the American colonial and Revolutionary eras. Excellent overview of the events and people leading up to the Revolutionary War and the drama surrounding Arnold’s betrayal. I would also recommend Philbrick’s history on the Mayflower and the Pilgrims. Great Christian history even though it is not specifically written as such.

Foundation – Issac Asimov
Dune – Frank Herbert

Both of these books are getting a film treatment this next year. All the fanfare around them gushes how both books are brilliant empire building epics that inspired George Lucas and other film makers. I had never read Foundation, but it was one of the most boring stories I have listened to. I almost gave up on it. The scientists are the heroes who use their SCIENCE! to predict the future and put the Scientists! all in power when the idiot dummies who run the empires in the galaxy collapse upon themselves.

Dune, on the other hand, was fantastic. I had started reading the book when I was a kid, but it didn’t interest me. I became familiar with the 1984 movie version and the 2000 SciFi channel version. I liked the TV version over the movie version. At any rate, Frank Herbert did a much greater job of writing an empire building story with memorable characters and dialogue than Asimov.

Now to the books I read.

First, the ebooks.

Disloyal Opposition – Julie Kelly. A biography of sorts on the NeverTrump movement. It was entertaining to say the least.

Cynical Theories – Helen Pluckrose & James Lindsay. A book written by two secular unbelievers on the destructive ideas put forth by the current trends of critical race theories and other postmodern nonsense.

A Testimony of Jesus Christ – Tony Garland. An outstanding commentary on the book of Revelation. Over 1000 pages (I’m still reading). The commentary is available in various formats for free on the internet. I bought the Logos version so it can be searchable.

Now to physical books.

Note the photo. Beginning from the top.

The Absurdity of Unbelief and Expository Apologetics are both apologetics oriented books. Presuppositional and Scriptural, as apologetic methodology should be. Picked them up at G3.

He Died For Me explores the extent of the atonement in various Calvinistic expressions. I thought it laid out the discussion rather well. Another G3 find.

Creation Unfolding is written by my old seminary friend from Australia, Ken Coulson. He has since obtained a doctorate in geology. I left a fuller review at Amazon HERE.

Before the Throne is a lay level study on the holiness of God and how we as believers should be shaped by God’s holiness. It’s a good book to utilize in small group Bible studies.

God Doesn’t Whisper, written by my friend Jim Osman, is a book dismantling the disastrous idea that God speaks to Christians through personal signs, omens, murmurings, and unintelligible impressions that a believer then has to decode in some fashion or he will miss out on God’s will. Highly recommended!

History of Christian Thought is the second volume in Justo Gonzalez’s major work on Church History. The 2nd volume covers the middle ages up until the Reformation.

The remainder of my book stack I plan to read this next year. Or in the case of a few, finish them.

1 & 2 Thessalonians. My friend Cameron has started the personal project of reading through all of John MacArthur’s NT commentaries. He told me, “You know, we listen to his preaching every week, attended TMS, and work for GTY and I have never just read his commentary work.” The same with me. The only ones I have read through have been Galatians and 2 Timothy, because I taught those books. So I took up his habit. Cameron began with Matthew and is currently in the Gospel of Luke. I thought I would begin with some of his smaller works first.

Holiness – JC Ryle. I read big portions of this book decades ago and loved it. Ryle set me thinking correctly about sanctification. I was planning on preaching on the topic of holiness with my volunteers this past year, but then stupid COVID lockdowns happened.

What About Evil? This is Scott Christensen’s magnum opus on the problem of evil and how Christians should have a biblical response. Well researched and written. Can’t recommend it highly enough!

The Genesis Account is a commentary on Genesis 1-11. Sarfati, who has become a distant friend of mine on social media, provides a detailed, apologetic work that presents Genesis as legitimate history. Thoroughly exegetical, dealing with all the major views naysayers use to dismiss this foundational book.

A History of Christian Thought Volume 3. Justo Gonzalez’s third and final volume in his historical survey of Christian doctrine. Look forward to starting it.

Books I Heard and Read in 2019

I haven’t posted a yearly book overview in a couple of years because of life and stuff. But I have some time this week and thought I would recommend some good reads (and listens) for folks.

Books I Heard

Jayber Crow – My wife attended a classical education conference this past summer and a lecturer in one of the seminars insisted that the members of the audience read this book. My wife got the physical book; I downloaded the audio version on Overdrive.

While it was well written, the story is weird. It’s about a guy who lives in rural Kentucky. He loses his parents as a young child, is raised by relatives, who then die when he is a young teen. He then is taken to a religious orphanage. Shortly before attending college, he essentially becomes an atheist skeptic, sets out on his own to make his way in the world. He comes back to the community where he originally lived and opens a barber shop. The book is his narration of the lives of the various characters in the community over 80 years. The story takes a strange turn when he falls in love with a woman in a bad marriage and becomes something of a stalker.

The author, Wendell Berry, has a number of books retelling the lives of people in rural Kentucky. People rave about him being this fantastic writer, but his books are his outlet to share his moonbat environmentalist musings. He’s practically a sophisticated, American Hillbilly version of Greta Thunberg.

Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality – I have been wanting to dive into Thomas Sowell for sometime. Sadly, there isn’t much of any good pickings at my local library in either print or audio format. I was able to secure this short book. It was quite excellent, though dated (originally written in 1984). I hope I can find more of his material.

Justice on Trial – This book was a riveting retelling of the Justice Kavanaugh hearings and the leftist insanity that surrounded his nomination to the Supreme Court. The two authors, Mollie Hemmingway and Carrie Serverino, provide detailed interviews with various individuals involved with the hearings as they develop the timeline from Kavanaugh’s days as a clerk with Justice Kennedy, to his nomination by Trump, and the bizarro circus of senate hearings manufactured by the leftist Democrats. That there were well-know Christian personalities who defended his accusers as credible is embarrassing in light of the truth presented in this book.

Heir to the Empire – This was my only fictional book I read or heard this year. The first in a Star Wars trilogy written by Timothy Zahn. Takes place five years after the fall of the Empire. Main characters, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, and the others all involved in various adventures with a story arc that involves a new villain, Admiral Thrawn, who commands what is left of the broken up imperials. The audio was well done; like a radio drama. The fellow who did the main narration captured the voices of the characters really well. It is a tragedy these books were not developed into movies.

Books I Read

So here’s the stack of books I read this year:

For the sake of time, I am not linking these to Amazon. I will highlight each one and trust the readers can locate them on their own.

Starting at the top,

Darwin’s Secret Sex Problem – F. LaGard Smith. I began this book in late 2018 and finished early 2019. It is probably the best book I have read in recent years that utterly debunks the working thesis of Darwinian evolution. If the starting pair of organisms cannot sexually reproduce, thus spreading their genetic material into the next generation, evolution of life cannot happen. Smith lays out his case with methodical devastation.

A Biblical Critique of Infant Baptism – Matt Waymeyer. Matt was a former Presbyterian baby baptizer. This short work is an excellent engagement of all the arguments for the baptism of infants and his response to them.

No Quick Fix – Andrew Naselli. A brief overview of so-called higher life/Keswick theology and the doctrinal harm it has brought to the church. I would highly recommend this book for folks to read. It does a lot with explaining the reasons behind many dopey views of salvation and sanctification Christians have. Naselli has a much larger, expanded work on this topic available in electronic format on Logos if you are a user.

Long Before Luther – Nathan Busenitz. Survey of the doctrine of justification by faith alone from the beginnings of church history. Nathan shows how Christians held to pretty much the same articulation of justification by faith alone that Luther and the reformers taught.

None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God – Matthew Barrett. A treatment of the major attributes of God like incomprehensibility, aseity, impassibility, and the omni attributes. Excellent devotional study for small groups or personally.

John Owen: Prince of Puritans – Andrew Thomson. A brief biography of John Owen. Short and concise, covering his life and ministry and all his major works. I appreciated the context of why Owen wrote what he wrote in the main printed works still available today from Banner of Truth.

How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity – Rodney Stark. I recommend anything Stark writes. All of his material tackles the bogus narratives put forth by atheists against religion and the lefty historians against western society. This book is an easy read that outlines the development of Western culture and why it succeeded and thrived, while other cultures failed. Have your teenagers read this to help detox their thinking from all of the Howard Zinn nonsense that will bombard them.

The History of God’s Remarkable Providences in Colonial New England – Increase Mather. I have been immersed over the last year or more in the life of Cotton Mather and his father, Increase. They were a major influence directing the flow of colonial America and setting the stage for the Great Awakening and eventually the Revolutionary War. I didn’t read this book in it’s entirety, just selected chapters. Both the Mathers collected unusual stories about what they perceived as God’s remarkable providence. Things like sea deliverances, the appearance of apparitions, and thunderstorms.

Saving the Reformation – W. Robert Godfrey. A history and overview of the Canons of Dort. I appreciate the work Godfrey put into this book, but in all honesty, it was a brutally boring read. I had to muscle my way through it. I like the historical background information, and the first appendix that provides a new look at Arminius and his theology and motivation, was interesting. This is one of those kind of books you keep around for research purposes.

Witchcraft at Salem – Chadwick Hansen. I picked this book up years ago at Archives from the back room where they had all of their deep discounted books kept separate from their main collection. I was happy to get it for 5 bucks. It sat on my shelf since 1999. What is that? 20 years!? Recently, I picked it up to add to my reading rotation because of my interest in Cotton Mather, he being associated with the Salem witch trials. The book is an engaging read, thoroughly debunking the bogus traditional narrative of mass hysteria and the like.

Destroyer of the gods – Larry Hurtado. This was a gift from a previous Christmas. I heard the author interviewed on various “apologetic” podcasts, like Stand to Reason. People gushed about how this book is a “must read” for Christians doing apologetics. I thought the book was an okay read. His primary thesis is showing the uniqueness of the Christian faith contrasted with the Roman religions and culture of the first and second centuries, and what made Christianity special and why it thrived in spite of persecution and other external pressures. I thought the author was a bit too higher critical with his convictions. For instance, he doesn’t believe Paul wrote the books assigned to him, etc. I would recommend people picking up Michael Kruger’s book, Christianity at the Crossroads, that covers the same ideas, but he actually believes the Bible is true.

A History of Christian Thought, Volume 1 – Justo Gonzalez. One of the last awesome finds I was blessed to pick up from Archive books before they permanently closed their doors was Gonzalez’s three volume work on historical theology. I remember my church history prof on the first day of my first class in seminary insisting everyone purchase these volumes. Fifty bucks for a beggarly seminary student was like 50,000 dollars, so I was never able to obtain them. My seminary prof was correct: these books are well done. Gonzalez provides historical background to the various theological controversies, as well as biographical sketches of major theologians of the church. I appreciate the information he provides for the secular philosophies Christian apologists had to engage and why. This volume really provides a well rounded understanding of the early centuries of the Christian church. Looking forward to cracking the second and third volumes in the new year. I believe the three volumes have been combined into one large print edition.