The following list reflects the favourite books read by TGC Canada editors and council members. The list is by no way exhaustive, nor an attempt to assess the thousands of other possible books worthy of your attention. This list is a simple enumeration of what those in TGC Canada have read and recommend in 2018. We hope it is a blessing to you as consider what to read in 2019.
Clint Humfrey – Council
If you are a “reformedish” pastor who cannot seem to break out of the rut of being too dense, too abstract, and too constrained in your preaching, then this book is for you. Charles has sound theology supporting every point, but his practical wisdom is immediately applicable, even for the seasoned preacher. After reading Charles’ book, I’m pushing myself to preach with fewer notes, and I haven’t been fired yet. Get it for a pastor or seminarian you know.
Unstuck by Matt Perman
Like many pastors, I don’t have a natural affinity for processes and productivity. So I’ve had to work at learning the best productivity practices from different sources along the way. Perman’s book is a soundly Christian distillation of the best productivity practices put into one place. As you start the new year, think about re-ordering your workflow and use Perman’s book to help you along.
God the Son Incarnate by Stephen Wellum
Since I seem to read books a few years after they come out, I only read Wellum’s work this past year. The clarity about the incarnation which Wellum offers has been very helpful. The result has been a greater emphasis in my ministry of pointing out the divinity and humanity of Christ in explicit ways. This work pairs well with Mark Jones’ book, Knowing Christ.
Jeff Eastwood – Council
How to Grow is an excellent primer on Christian growth in godliness and maturity, as we grow in our knowledge about and of God Himself. The layout is fantastic, allowing for personal or group study in any number of different contexts, and for Christians of all levels of maturity. The chapter summary, questions for personal or group discussion, and “what now?” at the end of each chapter is eminently practical, as is the whole book. I highly recommend this new resource to all believers in Christ.
Love Thy Body is the latest excellent work by Nancy Pearcey. I have enjoyed all her previous work, and this is no exception. Well researched and documented, beautifully written, and winsomely presented, this is an absolute must read for anyone who wants to better understand the ideology underlying much of the current understanding and re-imagining of human sexuality. Everyone should read this book.
Paul Carter – Council
I read a lot of commentaries in 2018 in preparation for various Into The Word series and episodes but none made more of an impression on me than Luther’s Commentary On Galatians. His ability to be firm and fiery one moment and then tender and pastoral the next spoke to a breadth and a complexity to his person that I had somehow never seen before. Some of what Luther wrote in this commentary was raw and underwent necessary refinement as the Reformation went on, but the fact that he saw those things and said those things—first, before almost anyone else was—makes this book worth reading and rereading in every generation.
Amusing Ourselves To Death by Neil Postman
I got tired of seeing this book cited and footnoted ad nauseam by authors that I respect, so I finally decided to read it for myself. I’m very glad I did. I spent a fair bit of time in 2018 trying to figure out why Christians think and communicate the way they do—or rather, the way they all of the sudden do and this book along with The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt helped me to connect some dots. One characteristic gem: “You cannot use smoke (signals) to do philosophy. Its form excludes the content.” Neither can you use Twitter or Facebook. We need to think more about how to use these various technologies without sacrificing our distinctive quality and timbre.
Wyatt Graham – Director (And Editor)
Budziszewski has written, in my estimation, a book that every North American ought to read. With both common and unusual sense, he defines what it means to be male and female.
I admit. I finished the second volume of this book in January 2019. But I have to include it here. Horton’s magnum opus on the doctrine of Justification should be required reading for any Christian. The first volume details the history of the doctrine under the rubric of “The Great Exchange,” while volume 2 engages with the doctrine directly in light of modern scholarship. What you have here is about 900 pages on the doctrine of justification. And because Horton writes so well and so skillfully, I do not begrudge him the length of the book.
Baiyu Andrew Song – Editor
As the title suggests, Professor Stewart––a fellow Canadian––seeks to help his readers to understand the root and meaning of evangelicalism. By defining the evangelical movements as both perennial and recurring, Professor Stewart reminds that “evangelicals had learned to consciously ‘stand apart’ from the Christian mainstream just because they were upholding a conviction not universally shared: that Jesus Christ fully intended to guide his church by the Holy Spirit speaking in Scriptures entrusted to the whole people of God” (p. 8). For many confused “evangelicals” today, this book provides clarity and encouragement.
Some books were written to be read again and again. This short biography of Macrina the Younger (c. 330–379) was written by her brother Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335–c. 396) at the time when the church experienced existential crisis where persecution ended. Thus, this book is about a new model of piety found in Macrina, which is the same radical discipleship found in Luke 9:23. For contemporary readers, this short book may challenge us to live as Christians in a consumer-driven therapeutic individualistic society.
Christel Humfrey – Editor
Recently in my women’s Bible study, I was asked how Jesus could be God if He prayed to God. The woman had been reading a Muslim apologetics blog and didn’t know how to answer this question. I liked Mark Jones’ book because many of us who have been Christians for years have not thought long and hard enough about the person of Christ. This book answers all of your burning theological questions while also being devotional in tone.
Anne Bradstreet: Pilgrim and Poet by Faith Cook
I’ve always been a fan of Faith Cook’s biographies, but this might be my favourite. I find Anne fascinating because she was America’s first published poet, and yet she was a Puritan woman—talk about defying stereotypes! Anne’s writing is full of wisdom and insight that encouraged my faith and Cook weaves in interesting details that bring Anne’s story to life.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Because even J. I. Packer says you should read for fun, especially books that uphold “fundamental morality” and give “elementary instruction” on topics related to the world around you. Charles Dickens really knows how to weave a story that captivates while also upholding themes that reflect the gospel we profess.
Chance Faulkner – Editor
This brief work by Andrew Fuller, recently re-published, deals with the nature, the symptoms, the effects, and the means of recovery to a backsliding heart. This work is convicting, and of tremendous help, because we often see “backsliding” as something far off—that happens to someone else. In reality, all sin is a form of backsliding, and so this work is most helpful to all Christians, in every stage of life. If you have ever struggled to work through Mortification of Sin, by John Owen, Backslider is a great substitute.
Daniel Stegeman – Editor
If you have always wanted to study church history, never knowing quite where to start, then this book is for you. Shelley covers 2000 years of church history in a (mere) 500 pages and does so in an engaging and entertaining manner. I have long been a student of the Reformation, but this book whet my appetite to study more streams of church history, such as the Great Awakening and the Protestant Missions movement.
I decided to read this classic book on preaching for the second time and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! Lloyd-Jones was perhaps the greatest expositor of the 20th century and it will ignite a passion in your soul for preaching, like no other book I am aware of. The “Doctor” reminds us that “the work of preaching is the highest and greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.”
Jonathan Camiré – Editor
Reading the Gospels Wisely by Jonathan Pennington
As a seminary student and preaching intern, I have benefited greatly from this book as it helped me value, grow spiritually with, and better present the Gospels. Pennington helpfully captures what the Gospels are and how to bridge them to our various contexts of preaching. Thus, my confidence in the Gospels and my joy in presenting them now stem from a deeper conviction that they can truly stand rigorous criticism while working in a saving way in the hearts of those who hear the message they present.
Exhortations pour jeunes chrétiens de John Charles Ryle
Ce petit livret de J. C. Ryle est d’une grande aide pour identifier des éléments fondamentaux de la marche chrétienne. Dans ce livre, Ryle nous aide à voir notre péché d’un nouvel angle et à identifier sa racine. Il nous partage aussi comment y résister par la grâce de Dieu et nous parle de la joie qui découle d’une vie zélée pour le Seigneur… une joie qui influence nos pensées et nos désirs. Son sujet est toujours d’actualité. Malgré que ce livre fut écrit au 19e siècle, on a l’impression de discuter de nos vies avec un père spirituel, comme si nous étions assis côte à côte dans un café au café…
Josh Kary – Editor
This book gets down to brass tacks for young or aspiring pastors, such as myself. It reads like you were sitting in Wingard’s study, listening to him impart wisdom gleaned from decades of pastoral experience. From sage advice on preparing sermons to concrete pointers on pastoral care and practical pointers on navigating the job hunt, this book’s contents add up to a great treasure trove of help for the new pastor.
Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory: The Piety of Samuel and Sarah Pearce edited and introduced by Michael A.G. Haykin
I nibbled away on this one over the course of several months and found these letters to have an immediate and noticeable personal impact. Samuel Pearce’s godly marriage, rich gospel friendships, and heavenly mindedness serve as a rich source of encouragement and challenge to me. This book did not make my head spin, but it certainly made my heart warm.