I give away books. I have to. Otherwise, I couldn’t fit into my office. Over two thousand books a year invade my personal working space. Of those, we reviewed 70 titles last year and excerpted a handful of others. While most of what comes into my office goes right back out, I would be a fool and a snob if I thought that after my winnowing I was left with under a hundred worthwhile titles per year. The truth is that there are many more books worth reviewing than get reviewed.
That is why we have our annual book awards: to showcase more of the books that are having a significant impact on the church. (For the same reason, we are planning to launch a new publication in 1995 tentatively titled The CT Review of Books and Culture.)
For the awards, we turned first to you, our readers, and back in December asked you to vote for what you thought was the best title for 1993. Looking at the top-ten vote getters (listed on this page) can tell us something about what is on the mind and heart of the church. Many of the titles communicate anxiety—we are concerned that we may be ignoring the institutional church, that we no longer value truth or theology, that we have been unduly influenced (and harmed) by psychology and marketing techniques, that heresy is creeping into our churches. At the same time, there are titles here that show evangelicals at their most confident: a refreshing, bold paraphrase of Scripture, theologically informed wisdom on Christian discipleship, and profound meditations on pain and suffering.
“Critics’ Choice” is the second category of award, in which we ask three judges in each of seven categories to read a box-load of books (donated by the publishers who nominated the titles) and rank in order their top ten picks. Looking over these lists of winners, I am struck by the quality and breadth of Christian publishing today—especially compared to the paucity of theologically conservative texts only 40 years ago. At the same time, most of these titles are addressed to evangelicals and not to the wider church or to the culture. We must be careful that in the midst of our publishing abundance we do not content ourselves with speaking only to those in our own tribe.
Finally, we wanted to look at some classics. Along with the votes for the Readers-Choice awards, we asked you to answer questions about books and authors that have shaped your Christian life.
To all the winning writers, editors, and publishers, we say congratulations. To our readers and judges, thank you. And to all, good reading.
By Michael G. Maudlin.
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