12 Books I Want to Read in 2012 (and Think You Should, Too)

A habit I’ve gotten into is looking ahead to certain books I want to read in the coming year. Here are a few that have caught my eye:

The Work of Christ: What the Events of Jesus’ Life Mean for You by R.C. Sproul (David C. Cook, Summer 2012)

The Work of Christ, the first new book in many years from renowned scholar Dr. R.C. Sproul, gives readers a deeper understanding of God’s purpose in every event of Christ’s life.

Most Christians recognize the importance of Christ’s death and resurrection. But how many understand the theological significance of Jesus’ actions before and after the crucifixion-from even before creation?

With wisdom grounded in years of scholarship, Dr. Sproul looks at Christ’s actions and asks: What is the greater theological implication of this event? Why does this matter to us today? As readers delve into Christ’s life and ministry, they will find greater understanding of the person of Jesus and renewed wonder at the Savior who loved them before time began.

Godspeed: Making Christ’s Mission Your Own by Britt Merrick (David C. Cook, May 2012)

In his new book Godspeed, innovative young pastor Britt Merrick challenges readers to leave behind the mundane and the meaningless to join God’s grand purpose-His plan to restore, redeem, and renew the world.

God’s mission to save the world started with Jesus, but it doesn’t end there. Jesus, in turn, sends us. He said, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” God wants to continue His redemption story through each of us- as we live more like Jesus, right where we are.

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books by Michael J. Kruger (Crossway, April 2012)

Given the popular-level conversations on phenomena like the Gospel of Thomas and Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus, as well as the current gap in evangelical scholarship on the origins of the New Testament, Michael Kruger’s Canon Revisited meets a significant need for an up-to-date work on canon by addressing recent developments in the field. He presents an academically rigorous yet accessible study of the New Testament canon that looks deeper than the traditional surveys of councils and creeds, mining the text itself for direction in understanding what the original authors and audiences believed the canon to be.

Canon Revisited provides an evangelical introduction to the New Testament canon that can be used in seminary and college classrooms, and read by pastors and educated lay leaders alike. In contrast to the prior volumes on canon, this volume distinguishes itself by placing a substantial focus on the theology of canon as the context within which the historical evidence is evaluated and assessed. Rather than simply discussing the history of canon—rehashing the Patristic data yet again—Kruger develops a strong theological framework for affirming and authenticating the canon as authoritative. In effect, this work successfully unites both the theology and the historical development of the canon, ultimately serving as a practical defense for the authority of the New Testament books.

The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson (Crossway/Re:Lit, April 2012)

Too few people attending church today, even those in evangelical churches, are exposed to the gospel explicitly. Sure, many will hear about Jesus, and about being good and avoiding bad, but the gospel message simply isn’t there—at least not in its specificity and its fullness.

Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of the explicit gospel within Christianity, Matt Chandler has written this punchy treatise. He begins with the specifics of the gospel—outlining what it is and what it is not—and then switches gears to focus on the fullness of the gospel and its massive implications on both personal and cosmic levels.

Recognizing our tendency to fixate on either the micro or macro aspects of the gospel, Chandler also warns us of the dangers on either side—of becoming overly individualistic or syncretistic. Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!

Am I Called?: The Summons to Pastoral Ministry by Dave Harvey (Crossway, March 2012)

Many men have the skills to lead a church, but only some are called. Dave Harvey helps men considering pastoral ministry to see God’s active role in the process of discerning their calling.

God’s Word offers a clear framework for evaluating one’s call, especially within the context of community. Harvey offers six diagnostic questions to help prospective pastors process their calling, and what they should be doing now if they aren’t sure. Illustrated with personal and historical stories, Harvey explores biblical and practical principles for determining the pastoral call.

Over the past twenty-four years of ministry, Harvey has enjoyed assisting many men in discerning whether they are called into ministry. This book will guide you through that all-important process with wisdom and confidence in God’s faithfulness in your life.

Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus by Jared C. Wilson (Crossway, September 2012)

While pastoring for the past fifteen years, Jared Wilson has become known in contemporary evangelicalism for his passionate, gospel-centered writing and teaching. Following Wilson’s well-received publication of Gospel Wakefulness, he writes Gospel Deeps as a “next step” to establishing the need for astonishment, which begins by looking at the astonishing things God has done in and through Christ. Wilson holds up the gospel like a diamond and examines it facet by facet, demonstrating the riches of its implications. This book serves as a valuable contribution to the emerging canon of gospel-centered literature, in the spirit of John Piper’s Pleasures of Godand Tim Keller’s emphasis on a “robust gospel,” and continues in the glory-reveling legacy left by Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, and the like. The distinctiveness of Gospel Deeps is found in Wilson’s winsome and frequently ecstatic writing voice, as well as his unique approach to showcasing the gospel’s beauty.

Indispensable Dad: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families by Douglas Wilson (Thomas Nelson, May 2012)

We live in a culture in which absentee fatherhood is the norm. Pastor and parenting authority Douglas Wilson brings a powerful message about its true costs to our families and society and encourages men to be the fathers God calls them to be.

When we hear the word fatherless, our minds usually turn to orphans, to children who have lost their fathers to tragic accidents. For most of us, that seems to be a problem outside our own families, a painful reality with which others must deal. “Not so,” says Douglas Wilson. “Most of our families are starving for fathers, even if Dad is around, and there’s a huge cost to our children and our society because of it.”

Why Fathers Really Matter is a thoughtful and timely excursion into our culture of fatherlessness, what Wilson calls “the central malady of our time.” Central because it is the cause of so many of the ills we face-everything from atheism and crime to joyless feminism and paternalistic government expansion-but most important because of the effect it has on families, children, wives, and husbands. Bottom line: when fathers are checked out, left out, or ruled out, it hurts literally everyone.

We need our fathers, and all too often they are nowhere present. Indispensible Dad has one basic goal: to encourage and empower men to be the fathers that God calls them to be and that their families and culture desperately need them to be.

God’s Will: Finding Guidance for Everyday Decisions by J.I. Packer & Carolyn Nystrom (Baker, January 2012)

How do I know God’s will for my life?

We face decisions every day–some big, some small. As Christians, we want to submit the choices we make to God’s will. Unfortunately, for many people the process of discerning God’s will has become fraught with fear and confusion, leading to such questions as: Does God really guide us? If so, how? How will I know when he does? What if I make a mistake?

In this biblical and practical exploration of divine guidance, you’ll find solid foundations for understanding how and why God guides his people. Discover the role of Scripture, discernment, wisdom, the counsel of others, and the Holy Spirit in helping you discover God’s will.

Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation by Norman L. Geisler and William C. Roach (Baker, January 2012)

The doctrine of inerrancy has been taught for a millennium. Now, it’s at risk.

Leading apologist and bestselling author Norman L. Geisler, who was one of the original drafters of the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” and his coauthor, William C. Roach, present here a defense of the traditional understanding of inerrancy for a new generation of Christians who are being assaulted with challenges to the nature of God, truth, and language.

Measure of Our Success, The: An Impassioned Plea to Pastors by Shawn Lovejoy (Baker, May 2012)

How do pastors measure success? Is it through the number of people who fill the pews on Sunday morning? Is it tied to programs, building projects, salary, or book deals? Is it about how much technology they use or what their worship band sounds like? Shawn Lovejoy has seen all of these measures of success lead pastors toward pride, self-reliance, loneliness, isolation, exhaustion, and, in the most extreme cases, self-destruction.

In this honest and encouraging book, he calls pastors back to the “main thing”–the call to love people and make disciples–and to measure their success the way God does. Using Scripture, personal examples, and case studies, Lovejoy gently leads pastors back to their first love, and in doing so he leads them toward a more effective and joy-filled ministry.

Friends and Lovers: Towards Companionship and Intimacy in Marriage by Joel R. Beeke (Cruciform Press, February 2012)

Here’s an excerpt from chapter one:

Next to new life in Christ, close friendship in marriage is life’s greatest gift. I am privileged to be engaged in a number of ministries, but friendship with my wife is worth more to me than any of them. Her friendship is priceless to me.

There’s something deep and mysterious about this bond of Christian friendship because it reflects the very nature of God. We might define it as the personal bond of shared life. By this I mean something that joins two people together for a time. Friendship does not have to last for a lifetime to be true friendship, but typically the bond of true friendship can take months to build and lasts for years. It is not an accidental connection; it is a mutual bond of faithfulness. The highest form of such a bond here on earth is the lifetime covenant of marriage between a man and woman.

The Two Fears: Tremble Before God Alone by Chris Poblete (Cruciform Press, April 2012)

Most Christians will agree that we ought to love our God. But what about fearing God? The Bible says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10), yet a broad survey of modern evangelicalism reveals that the fear of God is hardly regarded as such anymore. Many Christians seem to wrongly assume that the gospel of grace trumps the fear of the Lord. However, it is only the God of the gospel that is truly worthy of our reverential fear. The purpose of this book is to equip Christians with a healthy view of fearing God and to illustrate how it reconciles with the gospel of God’s grace to sinners.

Those are a few of the titles I’m looking forward to digging into next year. What books are you excited about reading in 2012?

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  • http://philippians314.squarespace.com/ Kim Shay

    I make a list every year, too, and then I’ll read a footnote in the book I’m reading and end up reading that instead of what I planned!  I’m interesting in the Packer/Nystrom book, too.  I’ll look for a review from you in 2012.  The one that I am for sure planning on tackling is John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Word of God.  A few others, too.  I’m reading more fiction this year, so I hope to include that, too.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Frame’s book is on my “to read” list as well, actually. As many books as I can get to on this list, I’ll be trying to review. I can pretty much guarantee reviews for Sproul, Merrick and a few others though :)

  • http://thelast.me/ Miles Morrison

    Thanks for the list, I’ve been looking forward to Chandler’s book, and as an expecting father, Indispensable Dad sounds like a great read. Will definitely add all of these books to my wish list.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Excellent—I’ve been really encouraged by a lot of the material that Wilson’s been putting out about fatherhood of late on his blog; it’ll be cool to see how it all comes together in the book.

  • http://www.aaronsellars.com Aaron Sellars

    That looks like an AWESOME list!  Some I knew about and some I didnt! Going to get some of those for sure.  Thanks for compiling.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong


  • http://www.chrispoblete.net Chris Poblete

    Aaron, I’m honored and humbled! First time I’ve heard of many of the others. I sure look forward to reading them (along with your reviews).

    And man oh man… David C. Cook and Cruciform will really gain some steam in 2012! It will be a great year for Christian publishing, no doubt.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      It looks like it’s going to be a terrific year, that’s for sure. Outside of a few things cooking with Cruciform (so far, no lemons, which is nice to see), I’m probably most excited about Chandler & Wilson’s book and Dr. Sproul’s. Should be tremendous works.

      • http://www.chrispoblete.net Chris Poblete

        Yes, indeed. I’m really anticipating Merrick’s too; God is doing some cool things through his church planting network in SoCal. Were you referring to “Wilson” a la Douglas or Jared? Both look great.

        • http://www.chrispoblete.net Chris Poblete

          Nevermind. “Chandler AND Wilson’s”…Same book. Got it.

        • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

          Chandler AND Wilson (as noted below), but I’m really pumped for Doug Wilson’s too.

  • Debi Martin

    I’ve actually got quite a hefty list planned for 2012, including Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem and Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley. Will be interested in seeing what you think of these that you have listed.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Nice, Bruce Shelley’s book in particular sounds really interesting; I’ll have to check it out!

      • http://www.chrispoblete.net Chris Poblete

        That was my textbook for Church History 101. Highly recommend it.

        • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

          Cool—I’m hunting it down now :)

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  • Zack Ford

    One very important volume to look out for in the summer of 2012 is Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants by Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum, both professors at SBTS. This is a book they have been working on together for a while and I am excited to see how it comes out.Also, I plan to work through Calvin’s Institutes over the next year.

    • http://www.chrispoblete.net Chris Poblete

      Sounds interesting. Is it like somewhat of a treatise on covenant theology from a credobaptist perspective?

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  • http://www.practiceofpiety.com/ Daniel Henderson

    There are quite a few good books scheduled for release in the coming year. I am looking forward to all the books on your list. I hope to feature reviews of them on my blog this year.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Henderson/697832596 Daniel Henderson

      On top of your list I am also looking foward to God is Love: A Biblical and Systematic Theology by Gerald Bray from Crossway. It is coming out March 31st

  • http://www.danielthrelfall.com/ Daniel Threlfall

    Nice list. Let us know what you think of them after you read them. I just finished (and reviewed) The Explicit Gospel, and found Chandler’s attack on America’s “moralistic therapeutic Deism” to be particularly helpful. Overall, it was a good read. 

    By the way, what have you found to be the best way to keep up with to-be-released books? 

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Best way I’ve found to keep up with everything to this point is through publisher catalogues (like what Crossway offers) and emails. There’s tons of stuff I miss though.

  • ACHU


  • ACHU

    NICE LIST……………………….

  • Bricks

    Aaron, I understand your desire as a preacher/pastor to read books about God primarily written for Christians — nonfiction, factual, how-to material — but one of these years I hope you add some good stories, some fiction, and some biographies. Good stories have the ability to open up your soul so you can more effectively RELATE to others . . . an essential in Christian ministry, I propose.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Howdy! Great encouragement and this is something I’ve definitely been making an effort to do over the past couple of years. :)