A Few of Our Favourite Books of 2015
Robin Weekes – The Song of Solomon: An Invitation to Intimacy by Doug O’Donnell; Job: The Wisdom of the Cross by Christopher Ash
"It's a close call between two outstanding commentaries in the Preach the Word series. Am I allowed both? (Ed.: Oh, go on then…)
Christopher Ash's Job: The Wisdom of the Cross is a model of how to read the Old Testament. As you'd expect from Christopher, he is rigorous with the text. But time and time again he also leads us to Jesus, 'the better Job', so it is a wonderfully Christ-centred, and indeed cross-centred commentary.
Douglas Sean O'Donnell's Song of Solomon: An Invitation to Intimacy helped me enormously as I was preparing to preach the book in the summer term. Again, it is Christ-centred, but without losing the fact that the book is in the first place a song delighting in the intimacy of a married couple.
Both books are ones you could read in your quiet times. In fact, Ursula and I read the second one together and found it a real marriage-strengthener."
Gordon Fyles – A Faith to Live By by Donald Macleod
"This year and every year, I dip in to A Faith to Live By at Advent, Christmas, Easter and Ascensiontide for personal spiritual refreshment. Donald reaches the parts no one else seems to reach. Never goes stale, either. Discover why Macleod is the Hebrides' greatest Bible-teaching export..."
Sarah Hall – Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas
"I love a good biography, but when this came up for the Emmanuel ladies' book club I was dubious about how much I'd really get into Bonhoeffer's life story. But curled up by a log fire near the Yorkshire coast over half term I found myself completely gripped by events that filled the tragically short life of this godly German pastor in Nazi Germany.
There are many insights to be gleaned from Bonhoeffer's faith and theology. His commitment to the confessing German church provides lessons on contending for biblical Christianity in today's Church of England. His quirky approach to romance and his relationship with Maria sits starkly in contrast to the Hollywood notions that dog our culture today. But most strikingly, Bonhoeffer's resolve to see Hitler removed from power gives a powerful example of someone committing their whole self – intelligence, productivity and ultimately even his own life – to take a stand at the juncture where personal faith meets state affairs. The book grabbed my interest from start to finish, and as well as teaching me about Bonhoeffer's role in the Nazi opposition taught me much about the German Church and World War II in general. I'd highly recommend it!"
James Ballinger – Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller
"Keller leans on Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Owen to encourage us to delight and meditate on Scripture before turning it into prayer. This is so much more than a how-to, but it is very practical and will get you praying. The first two sections are not as strong as what follows, but persevere – it is pure gold."
Paul Sutton – Knowing Christ by Mark Jones
"Mark Jones is always insightful and often quite amusing in his posts at the Reformation21 blog, plus I’d enjoyed his Pocket Guide to Jesus Christ, so I was expecting his new book Knowing Christ to be a treat – and I was not disappointed! Jones peppers every chapter with arguments from the Bible and quotations from the great Puritan writers to plunge us deep into the truth about Christ. Sometimes he corrects common misunderstandings about Jesus, and sometimes he just draws out amazing things you’d never even thought of before! An outstanding book, and it even has helpful chapter-by-chapter questions at the back, making it ideal for a book club or discussion group."