Lists of 2020: Books
It’s December, which means that it’s time for “year in review” lists. And the “Best/Top/Favorite Books” lists are some of my favorite. Take a look and add a few titles to your 2021 reading list.
I’ll continue to add to the list as the month goes on. In no particular order…
Top Books of 2020 | Kevin Deyoung
This is simply a list of the books (Christian and non-Christian, but all non-fiction) that I thought were the best in the past year. “Best” doesn’t mean I agreed with everything in them; it means I found these books—all published in 2020 (or the very end of 2019)—a strong combination of thoughtful, useful, interesting, helpful, insightful, and challenging.
12 Books I Recently Endorsed | Andy Naselli
Here are 12 books I recently endorsed (nine for 2020, three for 2021):
My Favorite Books of 2020 | Russell Moore
I should tell it, as Ryan Howard said in proposing to Kelly Kapoor: “I don’t know how I’m gonna feel tomorrow or the next day or the day after that, but I do know that right here, right now, all I can think about is spending the rest of my life with her. Again, that could change.” That’s not a good attitude toward marriage, but it is toward my end-of-the-year lists.
My Top 10 Books of 2020 | Tim Challies
Today I want to offer my picks for the top 10 books of 2020. I have put them in some semblance of order with my first pick at the top and the rest in roughly descending order. In each case I’ve included a short description drawn from my full-length review. I guess you’ll see as you browse through the list that my focus this year was on contemporary issues…
Christianity Today’s 2021 Book Awards
Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.
My 10 Favorite Reads of 2020 | Trevin Wax
My hope is that my 2020 list of “favorite reads” will provide a few titles that may make their way onto your Christmas wish list or provide some good gift ideas.
The Gospel Coalition 2020 Book Awards
Each year our editors, along with dozens of key contributors, review the nominations from Christian publishers using the following fourfold criteria:
- 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; and
- encourages efforts to unite and renew the church.
Best Books for Pastors in 2020 | 9Marks
We asked pastors around the world a simple question: what books did you read in 2020 that helped you be a better pastor? We’ve curated their responses below.
The Consensus Best Books of 2020 | Tim Challies
Over the past couple of weeks the blogs and sites I read have been humming with list after list of the top books of 2020. It seems that just about every avid reader I follow is eager to share his or her picks for the year that was. I love these lists and especially love comparing them to see which books become the consensus favorites. With that in mind, and based on perhaps 20 or 25 such lists, I analyzed them and narrowed it down to just a few books that received a lot of attention.
2020 Books of the Year | World Magazine
In a year with less travel and more reading, the following pages present 25 books accessible by general readers, not just by scholars or specialists. We emphasize books that contribute to understanding big controversies and great divides, including creation-evolution battles in science, racial and religious splits in American society, and times of war and revolution in our past. Here are our 2020 Books of the Year in five categories.
The 2020 FTC Book Awards | For the Church
Reflecting back on 2020, it was a hard year in many respects yet publications were not one of them. Faithful authors and faithful publishers delivered a plethora of wonderful volumes this year. As readers, we had much “good company” to accompany us along the way in these odd times and for that we can all be grateful.
The guys over at the Wednesday Conversation podcast had a thoughtful and helpful discussion on the topic of White Privilege in today’s episode. From the show notes:
In our conversations about race, the term ‘white privilege’ is being used a lot. Our culture seems to lack a clear consensus about what the phrase actually means, which leads to further polarization. In this episode, we seek to bring some clarity to the confusion by exploring what the Bible has to say about privilege. We also explore the dangers of uncritically adopting this language without careful definition and nuance.
Careful definitions and nuance are sorely lacking in many of today’s conversations about racial justice, both inside and outside the church, on the right and on the left. I’m hopeful that discussions like this one will become more common and that they will help Christians to have more fruitful conversation about racism in the U.S.
From the Retro51 blog:
With the new year and new decade it’s also time for something new for a handful of the Retro51 team …. retirement. Retro51 as you know it, will be making some changes and going on a sabbatical. What does this mean? We are still trying to figure it out, but there is a potential for new ownership or Retro could come back with a new business plan that we feel will thrive in the ever changing retail market. It is also possible that the Retro51 brand will be retired.
This is a bummer. I love Retro51 pens.
It sounds like there’s a chance that the Retro51 brand will stick around. I hope that’s the case and that any potential new owners steward the brand well.
These are ten of the best dollars I spend in the App Store each year.
Download Overcast here.
Union with Christ, Communion with the Triune God
Rankin Wilbourne, in the final pages of his book Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God:
We have communion with all three persons of the Trinity, each in turn; and each in turn cares for us and ministers to us. This is how union with the cosmic Christ becomes an everyday reality—as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit impress these truths on our hearts and minds even as we labor to be brought near.
We have communion with the love of God the Father. Perhaps you don’t have trouble believing that Jesus loves you, but God the Father remains a shadowy figure, distant and dark. Adding to this distance, sometimes we speak as if Jesus had to die to convince or coerce his Father into loving us, as if the Father were unwilling. But this is a tragic misunderstanding of God’s heart. It is only because God the Father loved us first, while we were yet his enemies, that he was willing to deliver up his only Son for us (Rom. 8: 32). Such is the love of God the Father, with whom we now have communion. What heights of love!
We have communion with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is full of “grace upon grace” (John 1: 16). Jesus, the only child of God by nature, is yet not ashamed to welcome us into his family by adoption through his blood. Our communion with God the Father is made possible by the grace of our Lord Jesus, who is our mediator (1 Tim. 2: 5) and who never grows tired of us or weary of dispensing his grace. What depths of peace!
And we have communion with the Holy Spirit, our comforter and advocate. In the courtroom of our conscience, when the voice of our own heart rises up to condemn us (1 John 3: 20), the Spirit of God bears witness with ours that we are God’s children (Rom. 8: 16) and gives us, beyond what words alone could, certainty of our salvation by pointing us back to our Savior (John 16: 14). The Spirit subjectively assures us of what is objectively true. What blessed assurance!
According to my iOS Screen Time reports I spend an average of 27 minutes per day on Twitter and 22 minutes on Instagram. That’s 49 minutes of social media scrolling that honestly does not add much, if anything, to my day-to-day life.
Yep, that sounds about right.
The Effects of Digital and Skim Reading
Maryanne Wolf, writing for The Guardian:
Look around on your next plane trip. The iPad is the new pacifier for babies and toddlers. Younger school-aged children read stories on smartphones; older boys don’t read at all, but hunch over video games. Parents and other passengers read on Kindles or skim a flotilla of email and news feeds. Unbeknownst to most of us, an invisible, game-changing transformation links everyone in this picture: the neuronal circuit that underlies the brain’s ability to read is subtly, rapidly changing - a change with implications for everyone from the pre-reading toddler to the expert adult.
Read this entire article—and don’t skim.
As I see more and more Christians carrying only the Bible on their phones, I’m especially concerned about how all this is impacting our ability to read Scripture well.
Matthew Loftus, writing for Mere Orthodoxy, in response to Freedom Road’s recent statement calling for Evangelical women to “hit pause” on the culture war:
I am wholly in favor of ensuring that everyone in the world has access to quality healthcare; I have spent my short career working towards this goal and writing about why this is a moral imperative for the state. I subscribe to many similar ideas about the crucial importance of poverty reduction. Yet I cannot accept the canard that other legal interventions against abortion can somehow be rendered unnecessary by reducing poverty, and it is a failure of both imagination and courage to suggest otherwise. Poverty and abortion are both the natural outworkings of evil systems that exploit and abuse human beings made in the image of God; simply replacing Anthony Kennedy with another justice like him will only keep the status quo of culture war where it is now and fail to transform the Christian political imagination as it needs to be transformed. Let us fast, pray, and listen, yes—but let us not accept a lesser solution.
I appreciate Loftus’s unwavering desire to protect the lives of the unborn, while making both left and right-leaning Christians uncomfortable in the process. The above quote serves as a summary, but the entire post is worth a read.
On the Clicky Post blog:
“The System” pen features a matte black barrel with a representation of the planets, each one with either their unique color or features, orbiting the sun on glow in the dark rings.
Accenting the barrel are gloss black “dark matter” stripes for added texture and mystery…
To finish it off, the finial of the pen is adorned with an orange disc representing the sun which adds a nice pop of bright color over the pen’s overall dark features.
This is a good looking Retro 51. And it sold out fast!
There has been considerable controversy over the differences between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and their respective descriptions of what happened on Easter Sunday morning. But the differences are not discrepancies. In other words, all four accounts, in my opinion, are complementary and perfectly compatible with one another. When we compare and align the four gospel accounts we derive the following ten truths.
But, without regular cleaning, the Inbox loses vitality. It becomes something we can no longer trust to hold our ideas until they’d be useful. Thoughts grow stale, irrelevant, or get lost when they could have been useful.
Too often, we can let the inbox go, particularly when we are first learning systems of work. We haven’t yet formed that internal sense of its power and how delicately it rides on our care of it. But when we do have this habit of clearing well practiced, we can better feel its power.
On the one hand, this is so obvious. On the other hand, it’s so easy to miss. I’m often guilty of allowing my OmniFocus Inbox to grow stale. This undermines its usefulness and power, leaving me without a safe and trusted place to clear my head and capture tasks. And without a safe and trusted Inbox, I’m much more likely to drop the ball somewhere.
Looks like it’s time to go process my Inbox.
Akimbo is a posture of strength and possibility. The chance to make a difference, to bend the culture.
It’s at the heart of my work. Your work too. The work of making change that we’re proud of.
And so, a new podcast. A different kind of podcast. No guests, no fancy production, it won’t remind you of NPR or sports radio either. 100% organic and handmade
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, writing for the Gospel Coalition:
On the whole, the transition hasn’t been easy, and “those in the U.S. networks need to be applauded for their humility and patience as the feel of the family has really changed for them,” said Ross Lester, former Acts 29 network director for southern Africa. “The fruit is obvious, though. Acts 29 is now truly becoming a diverse and global family and it feels that way.”
The “chest thumping” and “fist bumping” are gone, replaced with “cross-cultural fondness, affection, and warm embrace,” he said. “I truly believe that the organization is healthier than it has ever been, and is well-positioned for ongoing advance across the globe.”
This article is best summarized by a quote from Ryan Kwon, a church planter in San Francisco: “It’s a story worth knowing. Because it’s not Acts 29’s story; it’s God’s story.”
Everyone in American life at least pretends to believe in some objective moral norms. When forced to choose, though, between the objectivity of morality and the idolatry of politics, morality loses, more often than not.
If you are thinking about using RSS, I have a little advice. Be wary feed inflation. RSS is so easy to implement that it’s a slippery slope between having RSS feeds for just a few websites and instead of having RSS feeds for hundreds of websites. If you’re not careful, every time you open your RSS reader, there will be 1,000 unread articles waiting for you, which completely defeats the purpose of using RSS. The trick to using RSS is to be brutal with your subscriptions. I think the key is looking for websites with high signal and low noise. Sites that publish one or two articles a day (or even one to two articles a week) but make them good articles are much more valuable and RSS feed than sites that published 30 articles a day.
I love RSS, but David is right—things can quickly get out of hand if you aren’t careful. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some unsubscribing to do.
Just a Closer Walk With Thee
The Avett Brothers sing Just a Closer Walk With Thee. So good.
United Pastoral Statement on Racism
I read the following “United Pastoral Statement on Racism” at our worship gathering last Sunday. At the time, it had been affirmed by over sixty pastors in the city of Lincoln NE—a list that grows still today.
As Pastors in the city of Lincoln, Nebraska we believe that all people are created in God’s image. However, not all ideologies are godly. Any ideology, such as White Supremacy or Neo-Nazism, which states that one person is superior to another is blatantly sinful. We call upon the leaders of our city, state, and country to take a stand against the numerous groups in Charlottesville and throughout our country who claim these evil ideologies. We will be united as Christian brothers and sisters and will be preaching that there is no room for racism at any of our churches. We pray for healing, for accountability, and that racism will be condemned by all people in our city and in this country. Lastly, we pray that Jesus’ message of loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) would echo through our churches.
As I pointed out Sunday evening, this is only one small step. But, for the church in Lincoln, it seems to be a step in the right direction.
Why write a “United Pastoral Statement on Racism” in response to the recent events in Charlottesville, VA?
“We’re in an age where silence communicates agreement,” Kerns said. “Christians can’t be silent.