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The 2014 Christianity Today Book Awards

If you're a faithful reader of Christianity Today (and if so, thank you!), you'll have noticed that our magazine looks a little different from the version that arrived in your mailbox this time last year. So it's fitting that our annual book awards have some new features of their own—three, in particular.

First, beyond naming winners in our ten regular categories, we've christened from among those winners our CT Book of the Year: God's Forever Family, Larry Eskridge's history of the Jesus People movement. Now, this is no exact science. And really, we wouldn't have gone wrong laying the extra laurel atop any of the competitors, or a dozen other books besides. You may have your own favorite to recommend. But we can't see any harm in generating buzz—or provoking debate—around a book our judges praised for its originality, meticulous research, and colorful character sketches.

Second, speaking of those judges, we've lifted the veil of anonymity from their comments on the winning books. Our judges—best-selling authors, experts in their fields, and simply thoughtful people—have strained their eyes and brains reading and evaluating a thousand or more pages. They deserve to have their labors recognized. And you deserve to have your curiosity satiated.

And third, we've introduced a new awards category targeted at readers of Her.meneutics, CT's popular women's blog. Just what qualifies as a "women's" book, you might ask. Don't women care about apologetics, theology, and history? Good questions. Certainly, the boundaries are harder to specify than, say, biblical studies. (And it's worth noting that we've encouraged publishers to nominate Her.meneutics entrants in the other "gender-neutral" categories—and vice versa.) There's no precise formula, to be sure, but the talented writers and editors behind Her.meneutics do a fantastic job hitting that "women's interest" sweet spot. We want to honor their work.

Whatever you think of our new-look magazine or its new-look book awards, keep in mind that change at CT unfolds against the background of a core mission that doesn't. Our promise to you, faithful reader, is to never stop loving God and the books that glorify his name. —Matt Reynolds, associate editor for books

Book of the Year

God's Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America
Larry Eskridge (Oxford University Press)

Apologetics/Evangelism

Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense
Francis Spufford (HarperOne)

"Spufford writes fluently and attractively for non-Christians. Most evangelicals will disagree with some views he holds, but this book is ideal to start a conversation with your skeptical friend or jaded family member." —John Stackhouse, theologian, Regent College

Award of Merit

The End of Apologetics: Christian Witness in a Postmodern Context
Myron Bradley Penner (Baker Academic)

"This well-researched, lucidly written, irenic work demonstrates that postmodernism, far from being a gateway to relativism, atheism, and the death of the church, offers resources for furthering the gospel and strengthening discipleship. All reason-based apologists need to wrestle with it." —Louis Markos, professor of English, Houston Baptist University

Biblical Studies

Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study
Constantine R. Campbell (Zondervan)

"Campbell (professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) tackles a massive topic on which no consensus has ever been reached. He covers the waterfront in terms of judicious analysis of the relevant Scriptures, and he adopts sensible, convincing, multifaceted conclusions. Yet for all its learnedness, the book is so carefully structured and clearly written that the reader marvels at his argument's overall simplicity and persuasiveness." —Craig Blomberg, professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

Award of Merit

Charity: The Place of the Poor in the Biblical Tradition
Gary Anderson (Yale University Press)

"Anderson (author of 2010 CT award winner Sin: A History) examines the idea of charity in both the biblical text and church tradition at large. He questions the critique of charity as a product of self-interest, and instead gives a compelling argument for charity as a religious act, both in the way it shows faith in God and the way in which it can bear eternal rewards." —Mary Veeneman, professor of theology, North Park University

Christianity and Culture

The World Is Not Ours to Save: Finding the Freedom to Do Good
Tyler Wigg-Stevenson (InterVarsity Press)

"Wigg-Stevenson offers insight and advice to a generation badly in need of visionary yet earthy wisdom. This book is freighted with the kind of realism capable of restoring and sustaining high ideals." —Eric Miller, professor of history, Geneva College

Award of Merit

Why Cities Matter: To God, the Culture, and the Church
Stephen T. Um and Justin Buzzard (Crossway)

"The Bible says a great deal about cities, from Babel to Babylon, from Jerusalem to the New Jerusalem. Christianity spread in cities, and the early church was an urban phenomenon, as was the Protestant Reformation. More recently, we've tended toward a rural, small-town, or suburban emphasis. But the cultural significance of cities is increasing. This book shows how to proclaim the gospel in today's cities. The authors combine sociological research and biblical insight to create promising new paradigms for ministry." —Gene Edward Veith, provost, Patrick Henry College

Christian Living

Eat With Joy: Redeeming God's Gift of Food
Rachel Marie Stone (InterVarsity Press)

"In this food-crazed society, with the First Lady fat-shaming, Eat With Joy offers wisdom for the challenges of health and 'proper' eating. The book serves up a solid theology of food—of receiving it, enjoying it, and giving thanks for it. It offers the perfect blend of personal stories and research; Scripture and recipes." —Caryn Rivadeneira, Her.meneutics writer, author of Known and Loved

Award of Merit

Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem
Kevin DeYoung (Crossway)

"Stop and measure the toll of life's frantic rush, and humbly reflect on how sins (like pride) feed into our inner turmoil—this is the essential message of an essential book, a message more necessary than how-to lists for simplification." —Tony Reinke, content strategist, Desiring God

The Church/Pastoral Leadership

Reading for Preaching: The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists
Cornelius Plantinga Jr. (Eerdmans)

"Plantinga (former CT book award winner for Not the Way It's Supposed to Be and Engaging God's World) believes that preachers who read widely—novels, mysteries, biographies, poetry, and so on—are likely to become better at their craft. His thoughtful and winsome prose will encourage them to follow his advice." —Douglas Brouwer, pastor, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Award of Merit

Insourcing: Bringing Discipleship Back to the Local Church
Randy Pope with Kitti Murray (Zondervan)

"The lack of discipleship in North American churches is widely lamented, but few churches know what to do. Pope, pastor of Perimeter Church in Atlanta, outlines a disciple-making process that actually works." —Howard Snyder, former professor of Wesley studies, Tyndale Seminary

Fiction

The Sky Beneath My Feet
Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson)

"Readers will find 'aha!' moments in the deft, competent unfolding of Samson's story about modern-day mystics, the church, and the imperfect people who find community with each other." —Cindy Crosby, author of By Willoway Brook

Award of Merit

Every Waking Moment
Chris Fabry (Tyndale)

"This novel has authentic characters, a compelling narrative, and a complex exploration of the brokenness and hope of human life." —Susannah Clements, department chair of literature, Regent University

History/Biography

God's Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America
Larry Eskridge (Oxford University Press)

"This rich and surprisingly entertaining book is the definitive work on the Jesus People movement, a significant shaper of contemporary evangelicalism. Eskridge masters an incredible range of stories and sources. For anyone with a background in the Jesus People movement, Calvary Chapels, Vineyard churches, the Willow Creek Association, or the charismatic renewal that began in the 1970s, this is like reading an autobiography." —Thomas Kidd, professor of history, Baylor University

Award of Merit

Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution
James P. Byrd (Oxford University Press)

"Most Christians today would prefer to ignore violent passages in the Bible. Byrd makes clear that Revolutionary-era Americans used those passages to sanctify their own acts of violence, against both European and Native American enemies. While the book serves primarily to flesh out a more complete understanding of the Revolutionary mind, it also serves as a cautionary tale." —John G. Turner, professor of religious studies, George Mason University

Missions/Global Affairs

Understanding Christian Mission: Participation in Suffering and Glory
Scott W. Sunquist (Baker Academic)

"Because missiology is a multidisciplinary field drawing from history, theology, and practice, it is exceedingly difficult to cover everything that's required. Sunquist has done an excellent job at this daunting task." —Timothy C. Tennent, president, Asbury Theological Seminary

Award of Merit

Western Christians in Global Mission: What's the Role of the North American Church?
Paul Borthwick (InterVarsity Press)

"Borthwick introduces Western readers (especially Americans!) to what they need to know to engage the diversity of global Christian faith. Offering both critique and encouragement, he reminds us of how Americans perceive themselves and how they are perceived by sisters and brothers around the world. It's a solid dose of humility to offset our pride at being so-called world leaders." —Scott Moreau, professor of intercultural studies, Wheaton College

Spirituality

Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
N. D. Wilson (Thomas Nelson)

"Death by Living is a reflective yet lively mishmash of theology, philosophy, and memoir. Wilson's mantra that 'life is meant to be spent' seeps from every pore of this book. Both playful and poetic, Wilson's carpe diem challenge is sweaty with urgency, his anecdotes buzzy with vibrancy." —Kristen Scharold, writer and editor, Brooklyn, New York

Award of Merit

An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus' Rhythms of Work and Rest
Alan Fadling (InterVarsity Press)

"Can we gain inner peace and strength in our high-pressured, fast-paced lives? With insights and stories, Fadling, a spiritual director, demonstrates what it takes to experience empowered lives despite life's inevitable crises and urgent demands." —Harold Myra, former CEO, Christianity Today

Theology/Ethics

The Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable
Steven D. Boyer and Christopher A. Hall (Baker Academic)

"Boyer and Hall do an excellent job unpacking the subject of mystery, which is constantly alluded to in theological work but rarely carefully analyzed. The authors achieve clarity without sacrificing depth." —James Beilby, professor of biblical/theological studies, Bethel University

Award of Merit

The Holy Spirit: In Biblical Teaching, Through the Centuries, and Today
Anthony C. Thiselton (Eerdmans)

"This is perhaps the most useful survey of biblical and historical approaches to the doctrine of the Spirit available today. Concise and clearly written, it nevertheless covers vast territory. The result is a work of history and Scripture, scholarship and testimony, that draws from the best insights of mind and heart." —Gerald McDermott, professor of religion, Roanoke College

Her.meneutics

Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission
Amy Simpson (InterVarsity Press)

"Simpson's sensitive recounting of her experience growing up with a schizophrenic parent forms the foundation for a book that belongs underlined and dog-eared on the shelves of every church leader. Troubled Minds is far more than an introduction to the issues surrounding mental illness and the church. It is a call to practical discipleship for everyone who seeks to follow the One who spent much of his ministry caring for the ill and those at the margins of his society—often the same people." —Michelle Van Loon, Her.meneutics writer, author of Uprooted

Award of Merit

Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home
Gloria Furman (Crossway)

"At first glance, this book might seem most appropriate for homemaking moms with young children. But Furman has much to say to any woman concerned about God's glory. Who can't relate to her stories of couch cushions distracting her from prayer or the morning her last coffee filter went awol? More than practical tips for holy living, the book is a beautiful theology of the mundane: fresh, honest, and filled with the good news of Jesus Christ." —Megan Hill, Her.meneutics writer

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The 2014 Christianity Today Book Awards