Top 5 Books of 2023

This year I took a course in Moravian history online through Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, PA with the esteemed historian, Dr. Craig Atwood. That course required reading several textbooks. Plus, I did a lot of research in the Moravian archives with primary sources for a research paper. But, somehow, I did get a chance to do some leisure reading, though not nearly as much as I would have liked. Here are the top five books I read for fun this year:

Humility Illuminated by Dennis Edwards

There’s no one I know who I’d trust more to write a book-length treatment of humility from a Christian perspective than Dennis Edwards, and he doesn’t disappoint. Humility Illuminated not only addresses the common twin errors of false humility masquerading as humility and humility as a strategy to success. It also addresses the socio-political dimension of humility. Often when Scripture is addressing humility, it’s addressing injustice. Dennis calls direct attention to it and I loved every paragraph. During our Advent series at Roots, I preached a sermon called “Making Room for Humility” where I drew heavily from this book. This is a must-read!

Ecosystems of Jubilee by José Humphreys and Adam Gustine

Another one of my personal friends and mentors, José Humphreys also wrote a book this year, with a co-author, Adam Gustine. This book is fantastic at clearly laying out the economic vision of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament and how they relate to the modern world. So often Christians, particularly Americans, have deeply distorted views on Jesus’s vision for economic justice. This book is essential for all those who question things like “debt forgiveness” or who think the parable of the talents is somehow an endorsement of Capitalism. I highly recommend this one!

When Everything is On Fire by Brian Zahnd

Zahnd’s book always minister to me. I’ve read several of them and they’re all very well-written. I’m always struck by how seamlessly (and seemingly effortlessly) Zahnd is able to weave together the work of great poets, musicians, philosophers, Scripture, and his own life’s journey. He’s extremely well-read and has a grasp of literature and philosophy that is almost singular among popular pastoral authors. This book walks readers through the present crisis of faith in the West. A lot of people have been talking about “deconstruction” but Zahnd’s take is far more sophisticated. And I love that his book concludes with some solid chapters on contemplative practices, something I’ve learned a lot about from him. Highly recommend.

Godbreathed by Zach Hunt

Godbreathed is Zach Hunt’s foray into the well-trod territory of books that poke holes in Fundamentalist hermeneutics and the misguided doctrine of inerrancy. If you’re not already familiar with these works or the subject in general, this book might challenge you and surprise you. But if you’ve at all read other works in this vein, there wasn’t a lot of new insights. Instead, the strength of this book was Hunt’s casual and funny writing style. The book is written almost as if you’re having a beer with Zach and for some readers that will be enough to make it worth reading. I really enjoyed it.

Mirror for the Soul by Alice Fryling

Over the summer at Roots, we preached through a series on how the Enneagram could be a tool that helps us find rest for our souls. For that series, I read several books and articles about the Enneagram, but this one stood out. It wasn’t exactly comprehensive, but it was a solid introduction for anyone generally familiar but not well-versed in the language and concepts of the Enneagram. Fryling’s writing style is highly accessible and at times vulnerable. If you’re at all interesting in learning more about the Enneagram, I’d say this book is a great place to start.