My Year End Book Reviews: 2012

Last year I did a year end book review and as I look at it I realize how much my reading tastes has changed in a year’s time.  In 2011 not a single “Christian” book made my list.  In 2012 however, my reading list has been made up almost exclusively of books of a Christian “faith building” nature.   I chalk it up to the book that restored my spiritual hunger, Beauty Will Save the World by Brian Zahnd.

So, as 2012 wraps up and I write this last post of the year I thought I would give you my list of some top books I have read these last 12 months:

(In no particular order)

Beauty will Save the World by Brian Zahnd.

Zahnd suggests that we need to focus a little less on apologetics and ethics in our Christianity and let the natural beauty inherent in the faith rise again to the surface. Also has an amazing examination of the Sermon on the Mount which I unashamedly stole and used as a basis for a sermon a couple months ago. This book lit the fire in me that resulted in a flurry of reading that follows.

For my complete review of Beauty click here


The Gospel in 10 Words by Paul Ellisgospelinten

Paul Ellis, blogger over at Escape to Reality, wrote one of the “must have” books of 2012.  His The Gospel in 10 Words will unpack an understanding of God’s grace so completely you’ll be ordering extra copies to hand out to friends around you.

For my complete review of TGTW click here


How God Became King by N.T. WrightHow-God-Became-King

I literally just finished this book two days ago and can now say I am a full fledged N.T. Wright fan.  In How God Became King Wright fills in the blank left by the traditional Apostle’s and Nicene creeds which seem to jump in their declarations from Jesus being born of a virgin to suffering under Pontius Pilate.  What he fills the blank with is the gospels which explain how the God of Israel became King over all.

A full review is pending


Insurrection: To Believe is Human, To Doubt, Divine by Peter Rollinsinsurrection

Rollins writes in Insurrection that for many Christians, God is not part of the natural narrative of our lives but is wheeled out when needed to address a problem or or help in some manner.  Instead,  those that claim the Resurrection of Christ must be willing to take part in an Insurrection that challenges not only cultural foundations but the church’s.  Normally I shun books like this because the writers tend to be burnt out and angry.  Rollins instead is both humble and gracious even as he is challenging the very pillars of your beliefs.  And he will challenge them….this book is not for the faint of heart.

For my full review of Insurrection click here


Love Wins by Rob Bell

Rob Bell stirred a lot of controversy with his book Love Wins being accused of love-winsflirting with “universalism” (The belief that no one will be thrown into hell)  The book actually never says that and focuses on many other issues, issues I think have not been addressed in traditional evangelical circles.  When I did my review of the book I had some people quickly warn me what a heretic he is and others asking if we could talk more about it.

Read my full review of Love Wins here


Things Things unseenUnseen: Living in the Light of Forever by Mark Buchanan

 Rather than paint Heaven as the great “Here After”,         Things Unseen reveals a heaven that we can have written in our hearts.  A heaven that guides our actions and decisions here and now; and when the time comes that we do move on into eternity, we simply transition into the fulness of what we had already been living in.

Read the full review of Things Unseen here


Sacrilege by Hugh HalterSacrilege_163542

I actually met this guy in Denver Colorado years ago where his missional church Adullam is located.  Just finished this book and it is a great encouragement and practical guide for people wanting to make their church integrated with the community.  Oh, and as the title suggests, he smashes a few sacred cows along the way.


How (Not) to Speak of God by Peter Rollins

how-not-to-speak-of-godYes, my second Rollins book in as many months.  In this earlier book Rollins outlines some of the services they do in a bar called The Menagerie for his faith group IKON. I read one of the services outloud to Tammy on the balcony and she got so depressed  (they were trying to recreate the dark time of the soul the Apostles must have felt on the Sat. night between the Crucifixion and Resurrection) I thought she was going to jump…she didn’t. Alright, that’s an exaggeration; but it really affected her…as it was meant to.  OK, some of what they do at these meetings even offended me…oh yeah! :)   Loved it!

And now as 2013 begins I already have some great books lined up in my book reading queue:

The Gods of Christianity by Cornel Marais

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

The Idolatry of God by Peter Rollins



  • Rob

    Wow, Steve, these look great (I’ve read Love Wins, and Insurrection – your summary of insurrection is great, as I found some of it hard to understand and you have made it very clear here).
    Hope to be reading more of your list when I get the chance.
    And I hope we can hang out this year in HK sometime.
    Happy New Year,

    Rob (and Christine)

  • Steve

    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for the kind comment. I’m reading Peter Rollins new book “The Idolatry of God” right now. It’s even better than “Insurrection”! Look forward to getting together soon!

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