My leading the Cornwall Alliance entails a great deal of reading, all the time, on economic and, especially, environmental issues—from three or four to ten or twenty articles a day, and multiple books every year. But as a former professor of church history and social ethics who also taught systematic theology, reasons for Christian faith, and political theory, and as a church member committed to ministering to the needs of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and simply as a Christian ambitious to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), I’m always reading in those fields as well.
2017 marks the 500th anniversary of what is traditionally considered the start of the Reformation by Martin Luther’s nailing his “95 theses” to the cathedral door in Wittenberg. Being very much committed to Reformation theology and its continuation today, I had particular interest in that subject this year. That and the interests of some personal acquaintances prompted my reading a fair amount (pro and con) on both historic and contemporary Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. One brief word (literally!) to my many Roman Catholic friends who might hope, on reading the list, that I might soon “cross the Tiber,” and to my many Protestant friends who might be prompted by the same to fear it: No.
In 2017 I read—in addition to thousands of articles—all or major parts of at least 64 books. I never can keep track of them all. Someday I should take Megan (Toombs) Kinard’s advice and keep a running list, but then I’d forget to update it regularly! Here are a few of my favorites from the year, after which I’ll list others in no particular order.
Environment, Economy, and Science
- Climatologist and Cornwall Alliance Senior Fellow Roy W. Spencer’s An Inconvenient Deception: How Al Gore Distorts Climate Science and Energy Policy, though short, is a powerful refutation of common fears about global warming. The e-version ranked #1 for a time in Amazon’s science, mathematics, nature, and environment sales categories, far outperforming Gore’s new book and movie, and it deserved to. We were grateful for the opportunity to publish the print version and offer it to our donors as our gift of thanks.
- The Dictionary of Christianity and Science: The Definitive Reference for the Intersection of Christian Faith and Contemporary Science, edited by Paul Copan and others, includes climatologist and Cornwall Alliance Senior Fellow David R. Legates’s article “Climate Change (Natural Variations View).” Not only that article but the whole work—690 pages of dense double-column type—is fascinating and instructive. Every Christian interested in science should own it and consult it frequently.
- Rupert Darwall’s Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex gives readers a fairly in-depth tour of the various political movements throughout the twentieth century that fed into climate alarmism. Those who think objective science is the main driver of climate alarm need to read this book. Those who care about the integrity of science need to read it. Those who care about the preservation of liberty and democracy need to read it.
- Molecular biologist Douglas Axe’s Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition that Life Is Designed is a powerful defense of the hypothesis that life cannot be explained except as the product of intelligence. Those who reflexively condemn the Intelligent Design movement as either anti-science or scientific creationism warmed over are simply wrong, and Axe explains clearly and simply why. (One despairs of the hope that someone like Anthony Alumkal, author of Paranoid Science, also listed below, will ever read or understand it.)
The Reformation, Its Continuance, and Christian Faith and Life
- Though I’d read Nicholas Needham’s 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power, vol. 3, Renaissance and Reformation several years ago, I re-read it when asked to teach a six-week introduction to Reformation history at my church. It was an invaluable help. Needham’s 4-volume 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power is one of the finest multi-volume church histories I’ve read, ably combining broad narrative, narrower biography, and selected readings from the periods covered. This volume is no exception. Useful to scholars and laymen alike, it is simultaneously entertaining, instructive, heart-warming, and challenging.
- One of the more difficult challenges facing Christians of different theological traditions is truly understanding each other’s positions rather than embracing—and condemning—caricatures. Gregg R. Allison’s Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment. a study through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, admirably and respectfully explains the many and important areas of both agreement and disagreement between Roman Catholics and Protestants and the reasons for them. It would be difficult indeed to imagine a book to recommend more highly for its purpose.
- Jerry Bridges, an elder in the first church my wife and I attended after we were wed, and one of our time’s foremost evangelical Reformed devotional writers, makes what at first thought seems a frightful subject warm and attractive in The Joy of Fearing God. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge, anyone who wants those had better want it, too. My dear departed friend’s book is a great roadmap to discovering it.
Now for unannotated lists, by broad category:
Environment, Economy, and Science
- Roy W. Spencer, An Inconvenient Deception: How Al Gore Distorts Climate Science and Energy Policy
- Roy W. Spencer, Inevitable Disaster: Why Hurricanes Can’t Be Blamed on Global Warming
- Austin Ruse, Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data
- Rupert Darwall, Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex
- Anthony Alumkal, Paranoid Science: The Christian Right’s War on Reality
- Franklin Foer, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech
- Douglas Axe, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition that Life Is Designed
- Jonathan Wells, Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution
- Elizabeth O. Dulemba, A Bird on Water Street
- Margaret Helder, No Christian Silence on Science: Science from a Christian Perspective
- Steve Goreham, Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development
- Patrick M. Wood, Technocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse of Global Transformation
- Christopher H. Foreman Jr., The Promise and Peril of Environmental Justice
- Henry Lamb, The Rise of Global Governance
- Patrick Michaels and Paul C. Knappenberger, Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything
- Vincent Gray, The Global Warming Scam and Climate Change Superscam
- Dedrick Robinson and Gene D. Robinson III, Global Warming Alarmists, Skeptics & Deniers: A Geoscientist Looks at the Science of Climate Change
- Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky, Risk and Culture: An Essay on the Selection of Technological and Environmental Dangers
- Sally Fernandez, Climatized, a Max Ford Thriller
- Fritz Vahrenholt and Sebastian Lüning, The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe
- Donn Dears, Nothing to Fear: A Bright Future for Fossil Fuels—The story of Fossil fuels and climate change
- Steve Milloy, Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA
- Terry W. Donze, Climate Realism
- Paul Copan, et al., editors, Dictionary of Christianity and Science: The Definitive Reference for the Intersection of Christian Faith and Contemporary Science, including climatologist and Cornwall Alliance Senior Fellow David R. Legates’s article “Climate Change (Natural Variations View)”
- Art Lindsley and Anne Bradley, editors, Counting the Cost: Christian Perspectives on Capitalism, which includes my chapter “Is Capitalism Bad for the Environment?”
- John R. Ling, Bioethical Issues: Understanding and Responding to the Culture of Death
Christian History, Doctrine, Faith, and Life
- Kenneth J. Collins and Jerry Walls, Roman but Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years after the Reformation
- Nicholas Needham, 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power, vol. 3, Renaissance and Reformation
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Gregg R. Allison, Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment
- Scott Hahn, Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith
- David Currie, Born Fundamentalist Born Again Catholic
- John Horvat II, Return to Order: Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go
- Ken Guindon, History Is Not Enough!
- Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory
- Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God
- Chronological Study Bible: Exploring God’s Word in Historical Order
- Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, 3 vols.
- John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, volumes VII & VIII of Calvin’s Commentaries, 22-volume set
- James Ussher, Annals of the World: James Ussher’s Classic Survey of Ancient World History
- Bryan Chappell, Unlimited Grace: The Heart Chemistry that Frees from Sin and Fuels the Christian Life
- Thomas C. Oden, The Justification Reader
- Rodney Stark, God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades
- Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians
- Justin Brierley, Unbelievable? Why After Ten Years of Talking with Atheists I’m Still a Christian
- Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God
- Jerry Newcombe, The Book that Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation
- David Kullberg, Breaking Babel: What Was Hidden Is Now Revealed
- Doug J. Douma, The Presbyterian Philosopher: The Authorized Biography of Gordon H. Clark
- Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into the Christian Faith, expanded edition
- Ronald W. Kirk, Thy Will Be Done: When All Nations Call God Blessed
- James D. Agresti, Rational Conclusions
- Brian H. Edwards, God’s Outlaw: The Story of William Tyndale and the English Bible
- Martin Greschat, Martin Bucer: A Reformer and His Times
- Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther
- Robert L. Reymond, John Calvin: His Life & Influence
- Robert Letham, Through Western Eyes: Eastern Orthodoxy, a Reformed Perspective
Politics and—Well—Other Stuff
- Bernard Iddings Bell, Crowd Culture: An Examination of the American Way of Life
- Antonin Scalia, Scalia Speaks: Reflections on Law, Faith, and Life Well Lived
- Bernice Lerner et al., editors, Happiness and Virtue Beyond East and West: Toward a New Global Responsibility, particularly the chapter “Wisdom” by Kazunobu Horiuchi and Jun Yamada
- Diane Medved, Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage
- Pavel Stroilov, Behind the Desert Storm: A Secret Archive Stolen from the Kremlin that Sheds New Light on the Arab Revolutions in the Middle East
- Marshall B. Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
- Norman Podhoretz, World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism