January 2, 2014

Top five best books I read in 2013

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In descending order, here are the best five books that I read last year.  These are the ones that taught me the most or that were key in my intellectual development.  All these books are highly recommended

5. The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel. (by Stephen Sniegoski)

Written by Stephen Sniegoski, this book is, in my estimation, a work that should be cited much more often in libertarian antiwar circles.  The author thoroughly considers the dangerous effect that the Neoconservatives and Israel Lobby had on the Bush administration’s foreign policy commitments.  He starts far enough back into the history of the “Israel-firsters” so that their intentions and goals are made clear.  He then proceeds to explain their efforts during the Clinton years and how it was not until the Presidency of George Bush that they really got what they wanted.  He discusses all the key players, their connections with Israel, and why the foreign policy of the United States began to put Israel’s interests before its own.  A must have for any critic of Neoconservatism and its rambunctious global interventionism.  Here it is on Amazon.

4. An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (by Justin Raimondo)

Antiwar.com Columnist Justin Raimondo has been part of the liberty movement for a long time and Murray Rothbard often spoke well of him.  Thus, Raimondo’s background, not to mention his very detailed writing style, makes him the right man for the task of presenting a biography of perhaps the greatest libertarian thinker of all time.  Raimondo goes very deep into Rothbard’s life and offers some fantastic insight into the events that made Murray Rothbard.  Murray Rothbard provided the economics and political theory for the libertarian movement and without him, people like Ron Paul would not have been successful in present the libertarian and capitalistic ideals.  It is interesting that Rothbard grew up in a very liberal socialist Jewish community in Manhattan wherein most of his family –with the exception of his father — were enthusiastic Marxists.  Rothbard, following his father, had always been willing to distance himself intellectually even from those closest to him if he needed to. This was a feature of the person of Rothbard that would stay with him for the rest of his life.  Here it is on Amazon.

3. Christianity and Liberalism (by J. Gresham Machen)

This book by J. Gresham Machen is a classic and no Christian should go without reading it.  Not only because it presents an understanding of the differences between Christianity and Liberalism that go unsaid today, but also because this work cannot be aged.  The fact that Liberalism and Christianity are two different religions was not more true for Machen’s day than it is for ours.  Christianity, Machen points out, is a religion with a past, with a history.  And for liberalism to use Christianity’s language, and even its title, is deception to the highest degree.  Beware the liberals who pretend they are Christians by using orthodox language and themes but who define their entire system so radically differently.  In this book, Machen breaks down the differences between the liberalism of the modernists and the Biblical worldview of the Christians.  I honestly should have read this book much earlier in my life.  Here it is on Amazon.

2. Faith and Saving Faith (by Gordon H. Clark)

This is Gordon H. Clark most complete statement on the nature of Christian faith.  Clark considers the nature of faith from several different perspectives from Roman Catholicism to Modernism to John Calvin and John Owen.  Clark’s strength, here and in his other works, is his unyielding consistency and commitment to Scripture.  Clark offers both a positive defense of his own view of faith, as well as a negative critique against those who seek to make faith something that it is not.  Some may not be fully convinced of Clark’s simplistic definition of faith (although I have readily been convinced), but they should nonetheless appreciate the logic and argument of Clark’s position.  Clark is quite clear that faith should never be seen as “mystical” or “emotional” and that faith takes place in the mind of man and is thus intellectual.  In an age of subjectivism and emotionalism, Clark’s treatment of the subject will be seen as refreshing.  The reason why this book ranks so high on this list for me is that Clark is not only ever-pleasing to read, but he really changed my worldview with this book.  Many gaps were filled and questions answered.  I am pretty sure I had a smile on my face the entire time I read this.  Here it is on Amazon.

1. The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology: A Comparison Between Seventeenth Century Particular Baptist and Paedobaptist Federalism (by Pascal Denault)

When I decided to make this list, I knew immediately that Pascal Denault’s wondrous contribution to Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology simply had to be placed in the number one position.  Published this year, this book, I do not doubt, will prove to be vital as the Confessional Baptists continue to become more prominent in the upcoming years.  Denault is meticulous and remarkably detailed, yet always intriguing.  His goal to make the case, once and for all, that the Particular (Calvinistic) Baptist of the Seventeenth century were completely Reformed, advocates of Covenant Theology, and yet, of a different flavor than their Presbyterian contemporaries.  There was a very important distinction between the credobaptists and the paedobaptists in regards to the Covenant framework and Denault uncovers it with precision and skill.  For those Baptist confused about their position on the Covenants with the recent rise of “New Covenant Theology,” “Progressive Covenantalism,” I highly recommend this work.  The Baptist reader will find that he can (and should) indeed accept Covenant Theology, as there is a distinction between the Baptist and Presbyterian models of the covenants.  One of the most interesting parts was his use of Paedobaptist John Owen in defense of the Baptist formulation of Covenant Theology.  Here is a previous review that I did and here it is on Amazon.

 

So there are are my top five books of 2013!  Can’t wait to start reading the 2014 stack!

 

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com
  • I can’t believe I hadn’t hear of Denault’s book before reading this post. Adding that to my list!