Category Archives: books

Amazon Removes Books That Promoted An Autism ‘Cure’

(AP) — Amazon has removed books from its website that promoted “cures” for autism, the latest major company to try to limit the amount of misinformation related to autism and the bogus notion that it’s caused by vaccines.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, only medications that can help some function better. It also says there is no link between vaccines and autism.

An Inc. spokeswoman confirmed the books were no longer available, but did not answer any additional questions.

Last week, Facebook announced it would hide groups that spread misinformation about vaccines causing autism from search results. It also plans to reject similar ads.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

7 Best Theology Books for Beginners

Theology is for every Christian — not just pastors and ministry leaders. It is my belief that, if accompanied by prayer and obedience, the discipline and practice of studying theology will be one of the primary means of sanctification in your life. But with so many books available on the subject— and many of them tough to read — where do you start?

7 best theology books for beginners

I’ve got a list for you. This list is by no means exhaustive. I’m sure you (or someone else) could add a few more books or change some of the books I have selected and it would still be worth perusing. I put the number “seven” in the title but there are a few extra books sprinkled in, too. And while the word “beginners” made the title, these books can benefit any Christian, no matter how far along the road you are.

If you haven’t read much theology and you’d like to start, below you can find the best theology books for beginners.

The Best Theology books for Beginners

In no particular order:

1.The Westminster Confession of Faith

A marvelous work of theology. I have the version with the larger and shorter catechisms and Scripture proofs. The sentences in the book are beautifully crafted and have served the church well for hundreds of years. While I take a few exceptions (i.e., I don’t agree with everything in it), few books are more enriching than the Confession. The book is both meaty and edifying, two things that don’t always go together. (You may want to read it along with Confessing the Faith: A Reader’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith).

2. Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament by Christopher J.H. Wright

In a day where an increasing amount of people question the reliability and necessity of the Old Testament canon, the need for more good books on the OT today is vital. There’s too much suspicion toward the OT — even amongst Christians — and it shouldn’t be this way. Confusing at times? Yes. But the frequency at which its relevance is questioned is startling.

Wright to the rescue. This book is excellent — one in which he shows how the OT points to Jesus. Remember: the Old Testament is what Jesus read, studied, quoted, and obeyed. If you’re tempted to question its use, look to our Lord’s example. (Wright’s, The Mission of God’s People, is excellent, too).

3. Far as the Curse Is Found: The Covenant Story of Redemption by Michael D. Williams

The subtitle of this book gives you a better understanding of what this book is about (although the title is beautiful, one that borrows from a famous hymn). It’s a book about the covenants in the Bible and how they build and relate to other covenants in the Bible, and to the rest of Scripture. The theme of covenant is important in Scripture and one that you would do well to grasp.

4. The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink

My favorite dead guys are John Calvin and Charles Spurgeon. But I love me some Pink, too. I read this book back in, I think, undergraduate school. Man, did it make me fall in love with God more. The more knowledge I have of God, the more readily I am able to love and obey him. That’s one of the reasons why studying theology is so important. Nowadays, all the cool kids are writing books on God’s attributes, but no doubt they have borrowed and are indebted to Pinks’s work published many moons ago.

5. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem

This is the smaller version of his Systematic Theology and the bigger version of his Christian Beliefs (which is the first theological book I ever remember reading, one that gave me a deeper thirst for the knowledge of God). I love Grudem. His prose is remarkably clear and engaging, something you can’t say for every theologian. This book (and the two others mentioned that are similar to it) have been foundational theological books for many Christians, but especially Reformed Baptists.

(You may want to consider R.C. Sproul’s Everyone’s A Theologian as a substitute. You could also read Sproul’s Essential Truths of the Christian Faith).

6. Knowing God by J.I. Packer

I believe this book started out as a series of essays by Packer. Years later, this book has sold over a million copies (and counting). I saw a guy on vacation last year reading it as he and his family waited to be seated at a restaurant. “That’s a great book,” I told him. Or something like that. I don’t remember my exact affirmation, but I wanted to encourage him. I got the sense that he was either a skeptic or a new Christian and my desire was for him to read and consume the book in its entirety. That’s my desire for you, too. I just re-read four of the chapters the other day and was reminded again why this book resonates with so many people. (You may also want to refer to Packer’s  Concise Theology).

7. The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

I’ll let Randy Alcorn persuade you on this one. In Alcorn’s words:

I remember having lunch a couple of years ago with Gerry Breshears, a theology professor at Western Seminary, and Bruce Ware, who teaches theology at Southern Seminary. We were there with another friend.

Bruce asked me the question, “Randy, of all books besides the Bible itself, what book has had the greatest influence on your life?” And I said, “That’s easy to answer. Without a doubt, it’s A. W. Tozer’s book The Knowledge of the Holy.”

Bruce looked at me and said, “You’re kidding. That’s the book that has had the biggest influence on my life.”

And then Gerry Breshears said, “I’m not kidding! That’s the number one book for me.”

Could it be your new number one, too?

You may also like:

1. 10 Christian Books to Look out for in 2019

2. 11 Books Every Christian in College Should Read



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Million-Selling ‘Questioneers’ Team Readies New Picture Book

(AP) — The million-selling “Questioneers” team of author Andrea Beaty and illustrator David Roberts has an Election Day special planned.

Abrams Children’s Books announced Monday that “Sofia Valdez, Future Prez” will come out November 5. The picture book tells the story of Sofia Valdez, a Mexican-American in second grade who sets out to convert a dangerous landfill into a park — if only City Hall will allow it.

This undated image provided by Abrams Children’s Books shows the cover of “Sofia Valdez, Future Prez” by author Andrea Beaty and illustrator David Roberts. Abrams Children’s Books announced Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, that the book will come out November 5. Beaty and Roberts are known for the popular “Questioneers” series, which includes the picture books “Rosie Revere, Engineer” and “Ada Twist, Scientist.” The Questioneers chapter book “Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants” comes out in April. (Abrams Children’s Books via AP)

The publisher is calling the book a story of “standing up for what you believe in,” whatever the chances.

Beaty, born in southern Illinois and Roberts are known for the popular “Questioneers” series, which includes the picture books “Rosie Revere, Engineer” and “Ada Twist, Scientist.” The Questioneers chapter book “Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants” comes out in April.


Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Seminary Books: A Complete List of Required Reading for my MDiv Studies

As often as I’ve been asked about the books I’m reading during the duration of my Master of Divinity studies at Covenant Theological Seminary, I thought it might be helpful to put together the entire list of required reading.

seminary books

Couple caveats:

  1. This list is required reading for MDiv students at Covenant Theological Seminary from Fall, 2016 to Spring, 2019 based on the classes I took. This list is not meant to curate all the books read at every seminary. Different seminaries professors assign different material, although there is tons of overlap.

  2. This list represents the Master of Divinity degree only.

  3. Professors sometimes change the books they assign, which means one could do the same program I did and have, say, 10-15% different books required to read.

  4. Most of these books were required. However, I’ve added some of the recommended books from Professors if I thought they were worth mentioning.


  1. Apologetics, Evangelism, and Missions
  2. Applied Theology
  3. Church History
  4. Counseling
  5. Covenant Theology
  6. Greek
  7. Hebrew
  8. New Testament
  9. Old Testament
  10. Preaching
  11. Systematic Theology
  12. Miscellaneous

You can find the books below.

Seminary Books: A Complete Lists of Required Reading for my MDiv Studies


1. Apologetics, Evangelism, and Missions

Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith  by Holly Ordway

A Wilderness of Mirrors: Trusting Again in a Cynical World by Mark Meynell

Chameleon Christianity by Dick Keyes

Evangelism in the Early Church by Michael Green

Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus  by Mack Stiles

Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion by Os Guinness

Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church by Soong-Chan Rah

Reasons of the Heart: Recovering Christian Persuasion by William Edgar

The Heart of Evangelism by Jerram Barrs

The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia–and How It Died by Phillip Jenkins

Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture  by Lamin Sanneh

2. Applied Theology

“Applied” is a bit ambiguous. Essentially it just means classes that are more practical in nature and less academic.

Children of the Living God by Sinclair Ferguson

Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice by Bryan Chapell

Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification

Gilead: A Novel by Maryline Robinson

In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri Nouwen

Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy Sherman

Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer: Spiritual Reality in the Personal Christian Life by Francis A. Schaeffer

Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving

The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus by Zack Eswine

Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love by Jerry Bridges

Union with Christ: Reframing Theology and Ministry for the Church by Todd Billings

What Is Your Church’s Personality?: Discovering and Developing the Ministry Style of Your Church by Phil Douglas

With One Voice: Discovering Christ’s Song in Our Worship by Reggie Kidd

3. Church History

A History of the Church in the Middle Ages by F. Donald Logan

Church History, Volume One by Everett Ferguson

Church History, Volume Two by John D. Woodbridge and Frank A. James III

How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor by James K.A. Smith

4. Counseling

A Family Genogram Workbook

Close Calls: What Adulterers Want You to Know About Protecting Your Marriage by Dave Carder

Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications by Michael Emelet

Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue by Edwin Friedman

Strategic Pastoral Counseling: A Short-Term Structured Model by David Benner

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

The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller

The Leader’s Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation

What Am I Feeling? by John Gottman

When Life Goes Dark: Finding Hope in the Midst of Depression by Richard Winter

5. Covenant Theology

Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World by Richard Bauckham

Far as the Curse Is Found: The Covenant Story of Redemption by Mike Williams

Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message by Michael Bird

Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament by Christopher J.H. Wright

Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship by Leslie Newbigin

Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures by Herman Ridderbos

The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission by Christopher J.H. Wright

Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God by Timothy Ward

6. Greek

A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis by Craig Blomberg

A New Testament Greek Primer by S.M. Baugh

The Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament by Warren Trenchard

Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament

Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament by Daniel B. Wallace

Novum Testamentum Graece: Nestle-Aland

The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Frederick William Danker

7. Hebrew

Beginning Biblical Hebrew by Mark Futato

A Reader’s Hebrew Bible

A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax by Bill Arnold and John Choi

Student’s Vocabulary for Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic by Larry Mitchel

The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon – Coded with Strong’s Concordance Numbers

8. New Testament

An Introduction to the New Testament by D.A. Carson and Douglass Moo

Acts (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (IVP Numbered)) by I. Howard Marshall

John (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) by Andreas Kostenberger

Letters to the Church: A Survey of Hebrews and the General Epistles by Karen Jobes

Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology by Thomas Schreiner

Readings from the First-Century World: Primary Sources for New Testament Study

The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture’s Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity by Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger

The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham

Theology of the New Testament: A Canonical and Synthetic Approach by Frank Thielman

Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46 (Word Biblical Commentary) by William Bounce

9. Old Testament

A Biblical History of Israel by Iain Provan

An Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books by David Howard Jr.

An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books by C. Hassell Bullock

Forgotten Songs: Reclaiming the Psalms for Christian Worship by Ray Van Neste

From Paradise to the Promised Land: An Introduction to the Pentateuch by T. Desmond Alexander

Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God by Paul Copan

Leviticus: An Introduction and Commentary by Jay Sklar

Old Testament Ethics for the People of God by Christopher J.H. Wright

Proverbs (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) by Dee Kidner

Psalms 1-72 (Kidner Classic Commentaries) by Dee Kidner

Psalms 73-150 (Kidner Classic Commentaries) Dee Kidner

The God of Miracles: An Exegetical Examination of God’s Action in the World by Jack Collins

The Interpretation of Prophecy by Patrick Fairbairn

The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship: A Brief Introduction and Guide to Resources by John D. Witvliet

The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job & Ecclesiastes by Dee Kidner

10. Preaching

Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell

Preaching the Old Testament by Scott Gibson

How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth by Christopher J.H. Wright

Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller

Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching by Graeme Goldsworthy

Preaching That Speaks to Women  by Alice Mathews

Preaching to a Post-Everything World: Crafting Biblical Sermons That Connect with Our Culture by Zack Eswine

Preaching with Cultural Intelligence: Understanding the People Who Hear Our Sermons by Matthew Kim

Recapturing the Voice of God: Shaping Sermons Like Scripture by Steven W. Smith

Recovering Eden: The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes by Zack Eswine

11. Systematic Theology

A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story by Michael Goheen

A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology by J. Richard Middleton

By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine by Ellen Charry

Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship by Leonard Vander Zee

Ecumenical Creeds and Reformed Confessions

Justification and the Gospel: Understanding the Contexts and Controversies by R. Michael Allen

Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture David VanDrunen

On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius

Our Reasonable Faith by Herman Bavinck

Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin by Cornelius Plantinga

The Doctrine of God by Gerald Bray

The Doctrine of Humanity by Chalres Sherlock

The Doctrine of the Christian Life (A Theology of Lordship) by John Frame

The Holy Spirit by Sinclair Ferguson

The Freedom of a Christian by Martin Luther

The Westminster Confession of Faith

Why I Am Not an Arminian by Michael Williams and Robert Peterson

12. Miscellaneous

These are books from elective classes or books that do not fit neatly in the above categories. They are by no means academic books and are not representative of what seminary students typically read, although many of them are helpful nonetheless.

Christian Reflections by C.S. Lewis

From Weakness to Strength by Scott Sauls

God in the Dock by C.S. Lewis

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch

Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis

The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together by Jared C. Wilson

The Nuts and Bolts of Church Planting: A Guide for Starting Any Kind of Church by Aubrey Malphurs

The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis


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East Bay Library Won’t Cancel Drag Queen Storytime Despite Complaints

BRENTWOOD (KPIX) – An East Bay library is facing backlash over a children’s storytelling event hosted by a drag queen that some parents say is inappropriate for youngsters.

Although many parents have even called the Brentwood Library to complain, the Contra Costa County library staff stands behind it, saying they’re not cancelling the Drag Queen Storytime.

“This is not a drag performance,” said Contra Costa County Library spokeswoman Brooke Converse. “There’s no agenda attached to it. It’s just someone dressed in a costume and reading books to kids. It’s actually very sweet.”

Converse says the goal is to teach kids about diversity, inclusiveness, and acceptance.

The Drag Queen Storytime event will be held at the community center across from the Brentwood library on February 11th, at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s a healthy way to promote awareness of diversity, different color, different shapes, and different gender identities,” said drag queen Christian Aguirre. Her stage name is Bella Aldama.

At the event, Aldama will read books and do one performance where he’ll lip sync a song.

Still, some parents say a topic related to gender expression is simply not age appropriate for young kids.

Brentwood’s Claire Burr says she will not bring her two boys to the event.

“I don’t have anything against it, but I really don’t want to explain to them this whole thing at the moment,” said Burr.

Another parent at the Brentwood Library said, “Some kids under a certain age, it might be a little confusing.”

The local newspaper, East County Today announced the event on its Facebook page. More than 1,200 people reacted to it. Some called the drag queen event “sick”, “a disgrace,” and an attempt to push “the gay agenda.”

In contrast, parent Jordana Gavarrete supported the event.

“It’s an option for the parents to attend, so it’s not like they’re being forced to attend,” said Gavarrete.

Aguirre said it’s never too early to learn about acceptance and love.

“We all learn at different ages but we all have to learn somehow,” said Aguirre.

The Contra Costa County Library invited Aguirre to a Drag Qreen Storytime event last year at an El Cerrito library. They said they did not encounter much criticism and were surprised by the strong opposition from some of the parents in Brentwood.

They don’t know how many people will attend the free event. Given all the attention, they expect to see a crowd.

2018 in books

Last year was the first year in which I kept a more organized list of what I read. I had a loose goal to read a book a week and ended the year having read 48 books. Given that a few of the books were significantly denser academic ones I consider that close enough.

The two best work books I read were Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic and Freedom from Command and Control.

Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic is an in-depth look at how Mayo Clinic works and the service mentality that’s embedded within their operations. I posted some high-level notes over here. If you work in any kind of service team it’s a worthwhile read. It captures in a more structured and easy-to-name way some aspects of effective service that you likely already intuit.

Freedom from Command and Control covers how to apply ideas from Toyota’s production system to service teams of all types. John Seddon is a consultant and covers a bunch of case studies and models for how to evaluate service team performance. Reading it got my mind working more than any service industry book in recent memory. As an aside, it’s $50 on Amazon so I’d generally recommend reading it only if you can find it at a local library. The first two-thirds of the book are fantastic. The last third is more of a rant by Seddon against certain standards bodies.

On the fiction side of things my favorite reads were when I branched out from the science fiction I typically read. Pachinko, Into the Distance, and The Sympathizer were three great ones.

I also refreshed my main reading list to start logging things as I go through 2019. I have a vacation coming up over the next week and a half so that list will grow quite a bit by the end of the month.

10 Christian Books to Look Out for in 2019

Which Christian books should you read in 2019? I’ve put together a list of 10 books for you to consider reading this year. I’m going to try to read a few of these myself, although time may fail me to read the whole list. You can find the list below.

Christian books 2019

In no particular order:

1. Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons by John Piper

John Piper on why he loves the Apostle Paul. I’m grateful for both men, which to me makes this book look interesting.

  1. 7 Myths about Singleness by Sam Allberry

I’m glad to see more books written on the subject of Christian singleness. There seems to be more attention to this area which is a good thing. Here is Alberry’s contribution in which he debunks seven common myths about the single life.

3. The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents: Help Your Kids Learn Practical Life Skills, Develop Essential Faith Habits, and Embrace a Biblical Worldview by Joe Carter

Joe Carter has been a prolific blogger for quite some time now. In this book he takes on the subject of parenting and provides practical tips for those of you with children.

  1. A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible: Seeing and Knowing God’s Word by Tim Challies and Josh Byers

I’m an advocate of this idea — combining words with something visual to communicate something truthful. That’s what Challies and Byers are doing with their Visual Theology ministry, in which they have dedicated a previous book, a site, and now this book. They are engaging people not just with the mind, but also the heart and imagination.

  1. Grace Defined and Defended: What a 400-Year-Old Confession Teaches Us about Sin, Salvation, and the Sovereignty of God by Kevin DeYoung

I try to read everything Kevin DeYoung writes, although I haven’t read much from him in two years (sigh). I clearly have some catching up to do as he seems to release one or two books a year. Here, he goes back to the 17th century and examines the Canons of Dort, a work that summarizes the Christian faith from a Reformed perspective.

  1. Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age by Tony Reinke

We live in an increasingly distracted world. You know that. I know that. And so does Reinke, who writes this book in part to help us learn how to treasure Christ amidst distractions.

7. Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion by Rebecca McLaughlin

A book on apologetics. Seems like the Christian publishing industry has been publishing tons of good books on evangelism and apologetics in the past 5-10 years. I’m glad to see this trend. This book looks good.

  1. J-Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life by Paul Miller

Absolutely loved Miller’s book A Praying Life as it has been one of the most influential books I have read. I enjoy Miller’s work, and with this book he seeks to teach his readers a thing or two about personal discipleship.

  1. Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship by Andrew Wilson

The outworkings of charismatic practice and a serious devotion to the sacraments are often divided. Wilson in this book attempts to unite the two, something he calls “Eucharismatic.”

  1. The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances by Alistair Begg

Begg has been a faithful preacher for decades. In The Hand of God, he examines the life of Joseph and writes on God’s providential care for those who are hurting.

You may also like: 

  1. 10 Christian Books to Look Out for in 2018
  2. 5 Books that Influenced Tim Keller During College
  3. 11 Books Every Christian in College Should Read 


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