My Top 5 Reads of 2017

Let me thank all who have continued to read my blog here on Start2Finish, as well as those who’ve only discovered and found it beneficial. This article will be my final post of 2017, and as I look ahead to 2018, I plan to keep on writing both here and on my website (here). I wish you all the happiest of Christmases and will look forward to a new year. As most bloggers do I wish to commend to you my favorite top five reads of 2017. These weren’t necessarily books published in 2017 but were those that I read in this calendar year.

5—Joel J. Miller, Lifted By Angels: The Presence and Power of Our Heavenly Guides and Guardians. Miller is an Orthodox believer whose perspective on angels is full of both church history and Scripture, so you can see why I’d love this read. He gave insight into things I hadn’t thought of before relative to angels and often gave wonderful explanations as to how the historic church understood these celestial beings. I purchased this book via Kindle and found myself delighted as I went along. I believe you’ll love it.

4—H. W. Crocker III, Robert E. Lee on Leadership: Executive Lessons in Character, Courage, and Vision. Given the tenderness about Lee’s statue throughout various southern states, this was a very calming read. Lee did not own slaves himself but emancipated those he inherited from his father. He believed in emancipation and urged Confederate President Jefferson Davis towards such. The man who in 2017 was most vilified was, in fact, a man who fought for the Confederacy only because the north attacked his beloved Virginia. Despite having turned down command of the Union Army, Lee would have been content never to have fought. This is a read that I guarantee will change your view of the man, because it did mine for sure.

3—Stephen J. Shoemaker, Mary in Early Christian Faith and Devotion. Another church history topic, this tome explores the evolution of the Marian cult and Marian piety in early Christianity. What’s so very important to me in this work was how the devotion evolved. While we may not agree with such obeisance, we can certainly appreciate how the mother of Christ became so revered.

2—William Shawcross, The Queen Mother: The Official Biography. Being ever the Anglophile that I am, this was a most wonderful read. I have long been interested in the royal family but only began reading about them this year. Netflix’s The Crown and The King’s Speech may have had something to do with that … as well as Downton Abbey. Nevertheless, this biography is a hefty read and will take some time, but I found it a great read to accompany sitting on the back porch between winter and spring, and enjoy a nice Gingerale along with it. Sorry, no tea.

1—Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News. If you’re not familiar with any of Zahnd’s writings, I will urge a read of his work Water to Wine before picking this one up. The latter book tells his conversion from American pop-Christianity to the brand he now practices—ancient, patristic Christianity. Being ever the lover of ancient, patristic Christianity, I find a happy friend in Zahnd’s books. This one, in particular, rebuts the Calvinistic notion of God and is a polemic against Jonathan Edwards’ infamous sermon: “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” I have reviewed Zahnd’s book in greater detail if you’d care to read it (here).

As a final word of farewell, I would like to encourage us all to be more benevolent in our online tones. This past year and a little before has brought out the worst in some preachers and Christians as to how they’ve responded to what I and others here and not on here have written. One would hope that of all who might respond to writing that a Christian would be less snarky and more charitable. Nevertheless, this has become a reality that sounds more like political discourse than heavenly. I will endeavor to follow my advice and hope you’ll join me as an online resolution to be gracious to those with whom we might disagree. Bless you, all.

Steven Hunter (PhD, Faulkner University) is the preaching minister for the Glendale Road Church of Christ in Murray, KY. He's also authored several books for Start2Finish, and Classically Christian explores Christianity from a church-historical perspective. Steven enjoys reading books, drinking coffee, and is a practitioner of Goshin Ryu Jujutsu—a traditional Japanese martial art.