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Best Religious Books of 2008

All Beliefnet bloggers are offering their picks for the best books on religion in 2008. Here are my top 5:
Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, by N.T. Wright

I interviewed Wright about this book in the spring, and it continues to inform my thinking. I’m not always a fan of Wright’s popularizations of his academic work (this one is a reiteration of the doorstop The Resurrection of the Son of God), but in calling Christians to an epistemology of love and a re-emphasis of the Easter season, Wright knocked it out of the park. 


Culture Making: Rediscovering Our Creative Calling, by Andy Crouch

Crouch’s book is not only the best book on Christian culture I’ve ever seen, it’s one of the clearest explanations I’ve been given of the concept of “culture.” Immensely helpful, and a book Christian leaders will be talking about for years to come. Here is my interview with Crouch.

Original Sin: A Cultural History, by Alan Jacobs

Jacobs, a professor at Wheaton, has made a year-end list or two already for his Looking Before and After. But I’ve not read that one, and, well, I’m a sucker for serious thinking on sin. This one follows the history of thinking about original sin from Augustine to “Hellboy,” basically, and rewards the curious reader with unique knowledge (of good and evil) on every page. 


The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible, by Scot McKnight

I swear I’m not including this one just because McKnight kindly joined Beliefnet’s blogging team this year. The Blue Parakeet is a page-turning trainer on how to read the Bible in a modern context. For centuries, Christianity has been marked by one major question: Given what we know now (about history, science, sexuality, you name it), how should we read the Bible? McKnight’s book goes a long way toward helping everyday readers form an answer. 


The Lost History of Christianity, by Philip Jenkins

Jenkins writes with Balzacian regularity, and it’s a wonder that so many of his books are so good. Here, he continues his project of creating a paradigm shift for those who imagine that Christianity essentially is, was, and will be a Western religion. My interview with Jenkins is here

Comments read comments(3)
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Ted Olsen

posted December 19, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Best book that wasn’t specifically about religion but that prompted you to think more/differently/etc. about your faith or about religion in general?

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posted December 19, 2008 at 4:49 pm

This list is quite good! As much as I love Wright, I think it’ll be Andy’s book that I’ll be coming back to for years to come.

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Patton Dodd

posted December 19, 2008 at 11:55 pm

Ted–Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.”

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