Books I Read in 2017, and a Favorite Declared.

The Sagas of the Icelanders, c. 9th – 13th centuries.
Everyone knows of Erik the Red and Leif Erikson, but the real Viking personality is found in Egil Skallagrimson who could drink and fight with the best of men.

Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 1 by Francis Turretin, 1679.
A Reformed classic but not on par with the language and theology of Calvin himself.

What is Faith? by J. Gresham Machen, 1925.
Machen hardly answers his own question. The best answer I’ve found remains Faith and Saving Faith by Gordon H. Clark.

Experiences in Mountain Mission Work by Robert Perry Smith, The Presbyterian Committee of Publication, Richmond, VA, 1931.
Written by the founder of my current church. Interesting to learn of the old days in Appalachia.

Knowing Your Trees by G. H. Collingwood and Warren D. Brush, 1937.
An identification guide to about 50 of the most common American trees. It has been useful, but insufficient for the diversity of trees present where I live in North Carolina.

The Triumph of Grace in the Theology of Karl Barth by G. C. Berkouwer, Eerdmans, 1956.
A book of historical importance showing the previously Reformed author change his approach.

Diary of an Early American Boy 1805 by Eric Sloane, Dover, 1962.
Interesting and informative.

Studies in Southern Presbyterian Theology by Morton H. Smith, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1962.
Although informative, this book focuses too heavily on the issues of the day it was written (including Biblical inerrancy) as so lapses over other important doctrines. Smith, a leading figure in the Presbyterian Church in America, died this year before I was ever able to meet him. I was able, however to attend his funeral.

Karl Barth’s Theological Method by Gordon H. Clark, 1963.
I finally read through this book on my third attempt. Difficult to read, but worth the effort.

The Identity of the New Testament Text by Wilbur Pickering, Thomas Nelson, 1977.
This book has helped convince me of the superiority of the Majority Text over the Eclectic Text.

Scripture and Truth edited by D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge, Baker, 1983. Contains an excellent essay against the “Sandeen Hypothesis.”

The Road Unseen by Peter and Barbara Jenkins, Guideposts, 1985.
The third of the “Walk Across America Series” this books shifts the focus from the walking adventures themselves to the spiritual journeys of the authors. It was difficult to read the rather water-downed Americanized Christian attitudes of the authors knowing that they later divorced.

Discovery on the Katmandu Trail by Marc Mailloux, Quill Publications, 1987.
Mailloux is an excellent writer. I particularly liked the recollections of L’Abri in the 1970s. This book caused me to read his other listed later in this post.

Evangelicalism and Karl Barth by Phillip R. Thorne, Pickwick, 1995.
By far the most informative of the “Barth & Evangelicalism” genre.

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Vintage, 1997.
This books deserves the praise that it has received. The authors thorough research into the civil war era is apparent. But it is hard to know whether the language and graphic scenes are a reflection of the truth of the times, or the depravity of the author and our own times.

The Lord’s Day by Joseph A. Pipa, Christian Focus, 1997.
Not the deepest treatise on the topic, but useful for lay Christians.

My Quest for the Yeti by Reinhold Messner, St. Martin’s Press, 2000.
A fun book to read of adventures in the Himalayas.

Evangelicalism Divided by Iain H. Murray, Banner of Truth, 2000.
An informative account of evangelical developments primarily in Britain in the years 1950-2000. It is going to take a second reading of this to get a good grasp of it.

Nothing To Do But Stay by Carrie Young, University of Iowa Press, 2000
An interesting account of life on the Dakota prairies in the generation or two after they were settled. The character development was lacking and so I had some challenge recalling who was who.

Christianity and Neo-Liberalism by Paul M. Elliott, The Trinity Foundation, 2005.
This book draws attention to some of the “Spiritual Crisis in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Beyond” as it’s subtitle notes, and for this it ought to be commended. But, on the other hand, the research and writing seemed quite poor to me. Unfortunately these faults will prevent it from being taken as seriously as it ought.

Karl Barth and Evangelical Theology edited by Sung Wook Chung, Baker, 2006

God Still Loves the French by Marc Mailloux, Xulon Press, 2006.
Mailloux does it again with another enjoyable book.

American Chestnut, The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree by Susan Freinkel, University of California Press, 2007
A well-researched and well-written account. The cast of characters, however, is quite large so it was difficult to keep them distinguished.

Punic Wars & Culture Wars: Christian Essays on History and Teaching by Ben House, Covenant Media Press, 2008.
Full of interesting information. It could have been improved by including a unifying theme. The author is a cool dude, and my online friend.

The Legacy of John Calvin by David W. Hall, P&R, 2008.
I was disappointed that this was only slightly over 100 pages. With all that has been written on Calvin, this book does not stand out as notable.

Imagining a Vain Thing by Steven T. Matthews, The Trinity Foundation, 2008.
Like just about everything from the Trinity Foundation this book is a well-written argument against a pseudo-Christians view. It was an eye-opener to the unbelief growing in seminaries; in this case at Knox Theological Seminary. Though I read the book in May, I met the author himself in October at the Trinity Foundation conference.

God’s Battalions, The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark, HarperOne, 2009.
An excellent popular-level correction to modern politicized views of the crusades.

Karl Barth and American Evangelicalism edited by Bruce L McCormack and Clifford B. Anderson, Eerdmans, 2011.
George Harinck’s essay on “The Dutch Origins of Cornelius Van Til’s Appraisal of Karl Barth” was worth the price of the book.

97 Orchard, An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman, Harper, 2011.
Enjoyable. And I learned quite a bit.

Our Southern Zion, Old Columbia Seminary (1828-1927) by David B. Calhoun, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2012.
An excellent account. Well researched.

Recovering Classic Evangelicalism, Applying the Wisdom and Vision of Carl F. H. Henry by Gregory Alan Thornbury, Crossway, 2013.
It is hard to recall much noteworthy in this book. In my lukewarm thoughts on this book I might be unduly influenced by my lack of response from the Carl Henry folks. As the author of the biography of Gordon H. Clark, Carl Henry’s revered professor, I thought I would get good discussion or even collaborative efforts from Carl Henry scholars like Thornbuy and Owen Strachan. But neither of them responded to my emails, nor thanked me for the free copies of my book which I sent them.

An Explorer’s Guide to Karl Barth by David Guretzki, Intervarsity, 2016
Most of the information in this book is available for free on Wikipedia.

On the Trail, A History of American Hiking by Silas Chamberlin, Yale, 2016
Fascinating, well-researched, account emphasizing the historic role of American hiking clubs.

Hiking to Beer, A Memoir by Lloyd L. Fink Jr., 2016.
Written by my friend “Uke” of his hike on the Appalachian Trail, this was a fun account. And bonus is that I (Banzai) am mentioned in the book.

Luther’s Augustinian Theology of the Cross by Marco Barone, Resource, 2017.

Theology of My Life by John Frame, Cascade Books, 2017.

Clark and His Correspondents: Selected Letters of Gordon H. Clark edited by Douglas J. Douma and Thomas W. Juodaitis, The Trinity Foundation, 2017
This is the single greatest edited collection an editor (or two) has ever collected.

Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains by Jon Krakauer, Pan Books, 2011.
I learned a lot from this book about the climbing world; a world quite distinct from the hiking world in which I’m more familiar. My favorite line, a joke the author’s hiking partner made when they were snowed-in in their tents and in growing peril on a mountain: “If we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs.”

1 thought on “Books I Read in 2017, and a Favorite Declared.”

  1. Doug: Thanks for the helpful analysis of the books listed! I immediately jumped to amazon to order one of them in particular (ed by McCormack) but even the Kindle version was $32! Ouch. Also, glad you chose Krakauer as the year’s favorite. Having read a few of his books (Under the Banner of Heaven in particular), I’ve found all his work outstanding.

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