My Five Favorite Books of 2014

Toward the end of each year, hundreds, if not thousands, of bloggers all across the internet post their favorite books of the previous year. So I wanted to write a quick post telling you what my favorite books of 2014 were.

1. Mike Breen’s Building a Discipleship Culture.
I really liked this book. This year I have read through the book twice, blogged through a significant portion of it, I’ve been in a huddle (the discipling process that Breen recommends), and conducted two discipleship groups through this book. There are parts of it that are very insighful. Mostly, though, it will give you more flexibility and more tools to adapt your discipling culture to your prticular context. Though I disagree with parts of it, I have found it very helpful and useful in motivating me to begin discipling other guys.

2. Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West.
I bought this book when I saw it listed as a Kindle Daily Deal several months ago. It’s a long book, and I read it a few minutes each night before I fell asleep. So it took me several weeks to work through it. But I enjoyed every page of it. Stephen Ambrose does a great job of telling the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition in a way that makes you feel that you know the people involved. And his descriptions of the scenery made me want to visit all the places he described. If you like history and don’t mind a 500+ page book full of historical and geograhical details, then I highly recommend this book to you.

3. C. S. Lewis’s The Weight of Glory..
This is the only book on the list that I’ve read before. I haven’t kept track of everytime I’ve read this book before, but, to the best of my memory, I think this is fourth time I have read this book in ten years. This book is a collection of essays on a wide range of topics. Of all of C. S. Lewis’s work that I have read, this is the my favorite and the one I most often quote and recommend to others. The opening essay, after which the collection gets its name, is a moving and thought-provoking meditation on how Christians follow Christ for the reward that God has promised us–a reward that lies in the “consummation” of the Christian life. Other essays deal with his argument against Christian pacifism, his moral advice on “inner rings” (what we would call cliques, and other topics. If you’ve never read C. S. Lewis, you should start with this book.

4. Richard Beck’s The Slavery of Death.
Richard Beck is the author of the blog Experimental Theology and a professor at Abilene Christian University. He is a psychologist, but he works at the intersection of theology and psychology. This book is short but profound. He looks at the Bible’s teaching on death, drawing on the Eastern Orthodox view of the role of death in enslaving humans and driving us toward sin. Richard Beck explains the theology of death and the Bible’s teaching of Christ’s victory over death and the other powers of sin and satan. He then applies some psychological research on the role of the fear of death in motivating self-centered behaviors. Beck argues–plausibly, I think–that this research can help us understand how the power of death (specifically the fear of death) drives us to sin. You should read this book and pray about the way taht your own fear of death and mortality affects your life.

5. Herbert McCabe’s Faith Within Reason.
This was one of the few books I read this year by a philosopher. I wish I’d read more, but my work duties and other interests leave little time for philosophy reading. This is a a short collection of McCabe’s essays and lectures on philosophical topics, often topics that overlap with theology. I’m not sure how many of you would find this book interesting, but I have an abiding interest in Thomas Aquinas, and McCabe was heavily influenced by him. So I enjoyed the way that McCabe took Thomistic views and arguments and showed their relevance to our problems.

As always, I wish I would have read more books, and I am planning to read about 10 more books in 2015 than I did in 2014. I hope you find this list helpful in deciding what books you should buy next.

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