What’s the best book you read in 2018? We posed this question to our Intersect contributors, and we’ll share their recommendations over the coming weeks. (Read list 1, list 2, list 3, list 4 and list 5.)
Today, Intersect contributors highlight books on the crucifixion, God’s mission, God’s character and culture.
The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Christ
by Fleming Rutledge (Eerdmans, 2017)
Doug Ponder: I’m not in the habit of reading the theological works of mainline Episcopalian priests, but readers ignore The Crucifixion by Fleming Rutledge to their own detriment.
Her book is one of the most substantive and insightful books on sin and the atonement that I’ve ever read. Furthermore, it possesses in abundance what so many theology books tend to lack altogether: vivid imagination, palpable passion and gorgeous prose. This book is sure to become an evergreen classic.
Participating in God’s Mission: A Theological Missiology for the Church in America
by Craig Van Gelder and Dwight Zscheile (Eerdmans, 2018)
Cas Monaco: My favorite book of 2018 is Participating in God’s Mission, in which Van Gelder and Zscheile argue that “American life and American Christianity are experiencing a moment of major transition” calling for a renewed conversation around the topic of the mission of God and the church’s missionary witness.
I appreciate their candor and humility as they present a theological missiology that requires a shift from seeing the church as the initiator of mission to starting with God as the primary agent of mission. They advocate for a growing understanding of a more robust Trinitarian theology and an increased understanding of the Spirit’s activity both in the world and in the church. And, nestled right in the middle is an entire section unpacking the missionary history of the U.S. between the 1600s to the early 2000s, which for me is like icing on the cake.
In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character
by Jen Wilkin (Crossway, 2018)
Jenn Hesse: In His Image by Jen Wilkin strikes right to the heart of what many of us list-checkers demand to know, “What should I do?” by reframing the focus to a better question, “Who should I be?” In this sequel to None Like Him, which describes the attributes of God that only He possesses, Jen explains those traits He displays that we can and should emulate – for example, holiness, justice, mercy, and wisdom.
As a perfectionist who always wants to know what steps I should take to do the “right” thing, I appreciated how this book shifted my attention from my actions to God’s character and reminded me that my purpose is fulfilled in knowing and being like Christ, not doing good things for Him. It’s both convicting and freeing to consider how being God’s image bearer means walking as Jesus walked, being remade to look like Him.
Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling
by Andy Crouch (IVP Books, 2013)
Lanie Anderson: Culture Making was a powerful book for me to read this year during a contentious cultural moment in the United States which makes us realize how little is in our control.
Rather than always discussing culture in terms of how we should ‘analyze,’ ‘engage’ or ‘fix’ it, Crouch encourages Christians to recognize they do not stand outside of culture, and the only way to change ‘culture’ is to make more of it! Crouch has me thinking about how I can create and participate in a culture reflective of God’s kingdom in 2019.
What is your favorite book of 2018? Comment below and let us know!