At the end of a busy and tiring semester, I asked blog contributors if they had a favorite faith-learning book of the year. I received suggestions from a variety of blog authors and disciplines.
A book by a professor from Rice University (go owls), Elaine Howard Ecklund, received Ruth Bancewicz and Clay Carlson’s votes for one of the best faith-learning books in the field of science, Why Science and Faith Need Each Other (Baker). Clay mentioned, “I am grateful that Elaine finally wrote a book targeted towards a Christian audience.”
Margaret Diddams and Robert Joustra chose, Esau McCaulley’s best-selling Reading While Black (IVP). Diddams wrote “I tend to like anything that wakes up my belief systems. Esau certainly does this in this very accessible book on how for better or worse we bring our own culture to the reading of scripture and what it would mean to be able to read scripture through other cultural lenses.”
Robert Joustra also mentioned James Eglington’s biography of the Calvinist theologian Herman Bavinck was probably one of his favorite academic books of the year.
Interestingly, within the disciplines of computer science, engineering and technology, not often a hot-bed of faith-learning books, Derek Schuurman identified two important works. He described John C. Lennox’s 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity (Zondervan) as “A thoughtful book on the implications of AI and how the Christian faith can inform responsible use of AI.” In addition, he pointed to Jacob Shatzer’s Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today’s Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship (IVP Academic) as a timely read. He shared, “Shatzer explores how the liturgies of certain technologies can nudge us unwittingly toward a transhuman future and recommends practices that remind us what it truly means to be human.”
Tom McLeish picked a slightly older volume, Malcolm Guite’s Faith, Hope and Poetry – Theology and the Poetic Equation (2016). He said, “It is helping me immensely think through the deep theologically-supported connections between science and poetry, which I hope to hint at in the 2021 Boyle lecture on Feb 3rd! https://www.issr.org.uk/issr-statements/the-2021-boyle-lecture/”
David S. Guthrie, who authored the first significant work on Christian student affairs, had his most recent book, Dreaming Dreams for Christian Higher Education (Falls City Press) receive a shout out form his former colleague at Geneva, Eric Miller.
David I Smith confessed that within education, “I am struggling a little with this viewed within my discipline – lots of useful local detail stuff but nothing leapt out to me this year as having wide significance beyond specialists. Maybe I just missed the best stuff while hunkered down.” Thus, he pointed to outside his discipline, and suggested Kristin Du Mez’s book, Jesus and John Wayne as his pick.
Todd Steen offered a book that is not necessarily a faith-learning book, but it is one that discusses the importance of worldview: Victor Claar and Greg Forster’s, The Keynesian Revolution and Our Empty Economy: We’re All Dead. Todd Steen said in his review “Every economist should read The Keynesian Revolution and Our Empty Economy. It asks major questions about our discipline, and shows how ideas that many economists take as given (the positive/normative distinction, for example) have a background that may not align with a Christian worldview and values. While we may comment on Keynesian ideas in our classes, we are probably not aware of the full impact of Keynes’ thought.”
Tim Muehlhoff chose Recovering Eden: The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes by Zack Eswine as his favorite faith and learning book for the year. Although it is an older book (2014) and one not directly associated with communication, Tim shared that he has all of his communication majors read the book in order “to understand the human condition.”
For my own title, I chose, To Think Christianly: A History of L’Abri, Regent College, and the Christian Study Center Movement (Intervarsity). What is inspiring about the book is that it highlights an area of evangelical creativity (instead of capitulation). This creativity will likely be needed as future trends, such as the financial impact of COVID, the decline of the student population, and “free” public higher education, shift more and more students away from Christian higher education.
Feel free to post your picks in the comments section.