Books I Read in 2017

Here is a complete annotated list of the books I read in 2017:

1. Showing The Spirit: An Exposition of 1 Corinthian 12-14 by D.A. Carson

A fantastic exegetical study of the most significant passages on the so-called Charismatic gifts. Carson’s arguments for love in the midst of the debates is one of the best.

2. Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation: Skills Training for Patients and Therapists by Suzette Boon, Kathy Steele, and Onno Van Der Hart

A huge book full of helpful tools and resources, but ultimately it is out of step with a Christian perspective on people, problems, and solutions.

3. Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness by David Powlison

A fantastic work on anger, that approaches the subject in more detail and nuance than any other work on the subject I’ve read.

4. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, vol. 1 by Kyle Higgins

It’s basically the story of the Green Ranger from the original series told in comic book form. It’s good but mostly from a nostalgic standpoint. The artwork, however, is well done!

5. Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views ed. by Wayne Grudem

A great introduction to the strengths and weaknesses of the common views on the miraculous charismatic gifts.

6. Trapped: Getting Free From People, Patterns, and Problems by Andy Farmer

This was an okay book. It’s content was all good, but it was simplistic. It would be more beneficial for readers to focus on works that detail each of the subjects Farmer addresses in a short chapter.

7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters by Erik Burnham

A fun crossover over very different worlds. My son and I both enjoyed reading this together. Nothing amazing, but simple fun.

8. Dissociation Healed and Revealed in Scripture by Patricia Baird Clark

This was a terrible book. It’s a case of over-spiritualization and drawing parallels where there are none. Clark attempts to demonstrate cases of dissociation from scriptural characters, but the examples are poor and she stretches for case studies throughout. Furthermore, her counsel is often simplistic.

9. Behind the Masks: Personality Disorders in Religious Behavior by Wayne Oates

This is what a Christian book, from a clinical perspective, should look like on the subject of dissociations. Oates gives wonderful descriptions of eight different personality disorders and offers real insight into the issues. It is not sufficient on its own, but it is a good start for Biblical counselors wrestling with these kinds of issues.

10. Vision, vol. 1: Little Worse Than A Man by Tom King

An amazing book! This is such a fantastic read and the art is beautiful. It such a fascinating and even dark twist on the famous Avenger. It’s an existential look at what it means to be human. Really a beautiful and compelling comic.

11. Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship by Laurence Heller and Aline LaPierre

While the book has some helpful elements in it, overall this work falls short of comprehensive treatment precisely because it falls short of seeing people comprehensively.

12. Kept For Jesus: What the New Testament Really Teaches About Assurance of Salvation and Eternal Security by Sam Storms

A great guide to the major Scriptural passages relevant to the doctrine of assurance. Storms wrestles with all the relevant passages and does a great job of providing a compelling exegetical study. Those who want to wrestle with this doctrine will do well to read this book.

13. Putting Your Past In Its Place: Moving Forward in Freedom and Forgiveness by Stephen Viars

One of my favorite books on the year. Viars has written a fantastic work on the past and helping readers to navigate their past with grace, honestly, and hope. He neither denies the influence of the past, nor overstates the determinative power of the past. With a keen counseling eye, Viars analyzes the problems of the past and provides readers with excellent tools for confronting it.

14. How Does Sanctification Work? by David Powlison

One of my top books of 2017, Powlison corrects the simplistic talk about sanctification that has impacted counseling in negative ways. This should be a must read in for counselors!

15. Mrs. Marvel, vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson

I’ve loved this series, but this volume was a dud for me. The requirement of Marvel that all their volumes acknowledge the big “epic” events of certain storylines (in this case the Secret Wars storyline) creates frustrating additions to otherwise good stories. I appreciate that these volumes are not to be viewed as “self-contained” but part of the larger Marvel universe, but still this volume offered nothing interesting in terms of the development of Kamala Khan.

16. Suffering and the Heart of God: How Trauma Destroys and Christ Restores by Diane Langberg

One of the best books I read this year! Langberg is an expert in the field of trauma and her counseling is strongly influenced by her faith and knowledge of Scripture. In this collection of essays she not only provides readers with great help and tremendous resources, but she roots her counsel in larger principles drawn from Scripture. Through use of Scripture she demonstrates the power of the gospel for hope and change in the aftermath of trauma. She also demonstrates the role of counselors in providing help to those who suffer.

17. Vision, Vol. 2: Little Better than a Beast by Tom King

Another great addition to this unique storyline on this famous character. Ending the series beautifully, Tom King has brought his voice to this character in a profound way!

18. How Can I Be Sure I am a Christian? by Donald S. Whitney

A wonderful example of applied theology, in this case applied to the theology of assurance of salvation.

19. Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God by Gordon Fee

Fee balances the theology and experience of the Spirit in this work. He articulates well the need for both and challenges the short-sighted approach that emphasizes only one aspect. A fantastic book from a respected New Testament scholar. Not all will agree with his theology, of course, but the overall approach should be praised.

20. Can I Lose My Salvation? by R.C. Sproul

A short and helpful little book on assurance of salvation. If you are struggling this subject here is a good little reference guide.

21. Managing Your Emotions by Elyse Fitzpatrick

A wonderful booklet that challenges the notion that our emotions just happen to us. Here is a Biblical look at how to wrestle with your emotions and seek to cultivate godly emotional responses.

22. Deadpool: World’s Greatest, vol. 1: Millionaire with a Mouth by Gerry Duggan

Eh. I thought that this series on the comedic genius of the Marvel superhero universe would be way more fun. It was mostly just a letdown.

23. Guardians of the Galaxy: New Guard, vol. 1: Emperor Quill by Brian Michael Bendis

As this new series started I was unsure of where it was going, but this was a great launch to the new angle. With the new team in place and Star-Lord playing King, this was a good twist to the otherwise fun story of the GOTG.

24. Legendary Star-Lord, vol. 4: Out of Orbit by Sam Humphries

An underdeveloped plot left me dissapointed with this volume, which had the potential to be pretty fun. The engagement of the cosmos has ended and now Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde are left to figure out the nature of their relationship and their respective roles in the Guardians. I feel like Humphries had lots of direction to go with this one, but it was kind of a disappointment.

25. Restoring The Shattered Self: A Christian Counselor’s Guide to Complex Trauma by Heather Davediuk Gingrich

A really interesting and insightful look at complex trauma. The problem with it, however, is its lack of strong theology. It’s honestly not a very Christian approach, despite being written from a professed Christian.

26. How Can I Be Sure? by John Stevens

For the doubter and the pastor, this is an accessible guide to wrestling with lack of assurance that goes deeper than intellectual challenges.

27. Romantic Conflict by Brad Hambrick

A wonderfully practical guide to navigating conflict in marriage. I love Brad’s ability to make these conversations so oriented towards exercise and practice. Counselors as well as couples will find this helpful.

28. The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance by Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Caneday

A massive Biblical-theological look at the doctrine of assurance of salvation. Schreiner and Caneday provide a comprehensive look at the doctrines development and articulation across the canon of Scripture. For the more advanced reader this is a must!

29. The Poor Doubting Christian Drawn to Christ by Thomas Hooker

The Puritans were no slouches when it comes to practical theology. Hooker wrote this as a guide on how to use the Scriptures to both assess our souls and to give confidence to them before God.

30. Spider-Gwen, vol. 0: Most Wanted? by Jason Latour

The launch of a series focused around this compelling side-character is beautifully done. Without delving into an entire origin issue, this volume gives us some of that and a whole lot of interesting introduction to the Spider-Woman.

31. Howard the Duck, vol 0: What the Duck? by Chip Zdarsky

Such a fun re-launch of this much beloved, and extremely eccentric, character. With some weaknesses, this issue is generally fun and funny.

32. Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere

I was surprised by this book. Despite some major issues with the practical and theological points, I was shocked by how much this boo challenged my preconceived notions about the theological arguments for Charismatic theology. Deere does an excellent job of grounding his convictions in Scripture. Not everyone will agree, but he makes his case theologically and exegetically before he demonstrates it anecdotally.

33. The Holy Spirit by Donald Bloesch

Bloesch gives readers a theological history of the doctrine of the Spirit’s work in this massive volume. It is dense at times and yet its thorough interaction with historical theology made it an invaluable tool for my own study.

34. Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit by Christopher Wright

A wonderful and accessible little book on the cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit. We talk a lot about this fruit, and yet we often fall prey to either over emphasizing our role or deemphasizing our responsibility. Wright does a great job of avoiding those pits on either side.

35. He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit by Graham Cole

This work is a great introduction to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit because it focuses on saying nothing more nor less than Scripture says.

36. The Holy Spirit by Christopher Holmes

Despite being a fantastic volume in dogmatics, The Holy Spirit leaves many issues related to this doctrine unaddressed.

37. The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson

This book is the ideal combination of theological scholarship and readable study.

38. When Paris Sizzled: The 1920s Paris of Hemingway, Chanel, Cocteau, Cole Porter, Josephine Baker, and Their Friends by Mary McAuliffe

A fantastic read about an amazing time in an amazing city! McAuliffe’s exploration of the key people of the period gives tremendous insight, and delightful reading material. It’s more than just fun, however. It is a compelling look at the diverse responses to the post-war periods and then ways in which class, upbringing, and context shaped those responses.

39. Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption, and Everyday Life by Michael Horton

Horton gives readers a sweeping look at the work of the Holy Spirit across the canon. In particular he aims to help readers rediscover the Spirit as a person who is actively involved in their regular lives. This book will help to expand your vision of the Spirit’s work.

40. Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship by John MacArthur

What a disappointment this book turned out to be. MacArthur’s disdain for Charismatics so colors his interaction with the movement that it actually leads him to some poor scholarship. Strange Fire fails as a critique because it allows strong prejudice to color meaningful apologetics.

41. Rewriting Your Broken Story: The Power of an Eternal Perspective by Kenneth Boa

Redundancy hampers the development of this, otherwise good, book.

42. Perspectives on Spirit Baptism: Five Views ed. by Chad Owen Brand

This volume lacks the one thing that makes these counterpoint series worthwhile: meaningful debate on the details.

43. God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God by Mark Jones

One of my choices for book of the year! If more devotionals were written like this one, then the church would be healthier.

44. Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Reexamination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Spirit by James D.G. Dunn

This book is a valuable academic work because it forces readers to wrestle with the actual details of the relevant passages on this much debated doctrine. Even where I disagreed with it, and I did, I found it sharpening and challenging.

45. When Changing Nothing Changes Everything: The Power of Reframing Your Life by Laurie Polic Short

This work has some major flaws, but in terms of popular level treatments of perspective it is still a decent work.

46. Belonging and Becoming: Creating a Thriving Family Culture by Mark and Lisa Scandrette

One of my favorite read this year! I feel like I’ve been looking for this exact book for years! As a counselor I am often attempting to help couples navigate the dynamics of family life. There are great resources out there on the foundations and theology of a Biblical family. There are also great resources on communication, conflict resolution, parenting, and a host of other family related subjects. But on the issue of crafting a family vision I’ve often been found searching for some assistance. Belonging and Becoming is the strategic resource I have been wanting.

47. Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit In Your Life by Sam Storms

A very wonderful guide to the practical questions of implementing the miraculous gifts of the Spirit into the life of the modern church. There are aspects where I might challenge some of what Storms wants to do, but I think overall it’s a really great guide from a conservative and theologically sound scholar/pastor.

48. This Day: New and Collected Sabbath Poems by Wendell Berry

These collected poems are beautiful, thought provoking, and worthy way to spend part of a Sunday afternoon.

49. Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses & Medications by Michael Emlet

My choice for best book of 2017! This book balances blind acceptance of the medical model of counseling and care, and complete misguided resistance of their helpful descriptions of disorders. As a Biblical Counselor and medical doctor, Emlet is the perfect person to write this book!

50. The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves by Curt Thompson 

The Soul of Shame is a great resource, but like many books it tends to be stronger on psychology than theology. Still, with the major caveats included, this work stands out above other Christian psychological works. Biblical counselors will find much here to appreciate and utilize within their own counseling. Biblical Counselors will also, of course, clarify and reframe some of the poorer theological content. Still, I recommend The Soul of Shame and pray that more counseling books will follow Thompson’s lead by including greater theological foundations in their psychological study and diagnosis.

51. Reformation Theology: A Systematic Summary ed. by Matthew Barrett

One of my top five favorite works of 2017. The unique systematic approach to the theological developments of the Reformation era, make this work a tremendous addition to any pastor’s library. The collection of rich historical theological essays are written by experts in both history and theology and therefore lead to some compelling conclusions and clarifications regarding the major doctrines of the Reformers.

52. Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers by Jim Newheiser

Another tremendous book, and one of my favorite read for the year. Newheiser has given readers a comprehensive guide to all the major issues of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Written in a handy Q&A format, the content is easy to access. It is also written with a great deal of nuance and careful attention to the actual words and warnings of Scripture.

53. Christ Alone by Stephen Wellum

While it is a rather dry, and tedious in its logical progression of an argument, what the book lacks in style it makes up for in content.

54. Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life by Robert Kellemen

Another of my favorite reads on the year. This book highlights the pastoral genius of Luther and uses his skill in counseling as a framework for the modern counselor. Kellemen gives ample reference to primary sources to substantiate his claims, and gives a compelling overall look at the Reformer from a unique angle.

55. Perspectives on Pentecost by Richard Gaffin

Despite disagreeing with Gaffin’s theology, I was surprised by how much I loved this book. There was a lot more common ground that I would have initially thought.

56. The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today by Wayne Grudem

Easily the most thorough and detailed analysis of the gift of prophecy and its role in the modern church. Grudem’s arguments are comprehensive and challenging. I thorugholy enjoyed taking my time working through this work.

57. Group Counseling: Strategies and Skills by Edward Jacobs and Christine Schimmel

A useful guide to some of the basic skills regarding group counseling. I found it useful in framing some of the key issues while training our team earlier this year.

58. Helping Your Family Through PTSD by Greg Gifford

A really helpful guide to PTSD, if still insufficient. Gifford fills a void in the Biblical Counseling literature with this volume, but it strikes me as a book more useful to those who are further along in their traumatic recovery. He does write with an intentional eye towards the family of the PTSD victim, and so perhaps there is some excuse allowed for some oversights.

59. God & Soul Care: Therapeutic Resources for the Christian Life by Eric Johnson

This is a fantastic work! I am still working my way through it, but it is a key example of the kind of theological foundation needed for truly Christian psychology. Johnson provides a unique volume in both theology and in counseling with this work, giving readers both a sort of systematic theology and a guide to the therapeutic value of Christian doctrine.

60. In the Aftermath: Past the Pain of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Pamela Gannon and Beverly Moore

While this is a good work in general, I found it lacked valuable depth. It was often too flat on explanations of “how-to” and it approaches the subject largely from a responsibility framework instead of giving care to those who are in the initial stages of grief and sorrow.

61. Guardians of the Galaxy: The New Guard, vol. 2: Wanted by Brian Michael Bendis

Such a flat story. Lots of action but almost no plot and I have really come to find the character of Angela annoying and uninteresting.

62. Guardians of the Galaxy: The New Guard, vol. 3: Civil War II by Brian Michael Bendis

This was a better contribution to the unfolding story, but it is mostly just filler. Since, again, each individual volume must contribute to the major epic storylines of Marvel, this was part of the Civil War II storyline. Since Bendis wrote the original storyline, he can make this fit neatly into that one, but it still feels like filler.

63. Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering by Kelly Kapic

One of my favorite books of 2017, this work looks at the issue of pain and suffering through the lens of personal grief. Kapic downplays the importance of theodicy in personal grief and turns instead to the cultivation of lamentation as a response of faith and a means of growth. Beautifully written and unique in the marketplace of Christian works.

64. Spidergwen, vol. 1: Greater Power by Jason Latour

A decent volume. Not great, but not terrible. It continues the development of SpiderGwen’s journey, and shows her insecurity, uncertainty, and inexperience in interesting ways. Latour’s storytelling is a bit choppy at times, but Gwen’s development as a character is more interesting. Also, appearances by the alternate universe Captain America are awesome.

65. Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray

A fantastic book, and one of my favorite reads on the year. This volume helps men in particular analyze the common symptoms, causes, and cures for burnout. I will not only be using this in my own life but referring counselees to it for years!

66. Depression: A Stubborn Darkness by Ed Welch

I read through this book at least once a year in counseling others. It’s easily the best book on depression I’ve ever read! Written for the depressed individual, it provides short and focused chapters to help give readers genuine insight and practical help in understanding and fighting depression. Welch, a trained neuroscientist and Biblical counselor, does not suggest depression will just go away – nor does he suggest that it is a result of some inferior faith. Rather, he argues it has many diverse causes and yet points readers to help and hope found in Scripture (along with many other practical, medical, and relational tools).

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