10 Notable (Non-Fiction) Books from 2015

1. Rescuing the Gospel from Cowboys by Richard Twissrescuing gospel

The late Richard Twiss here offers both a powerful and dangerous gift to the church. For anyone who has wondered why so few Native Americans follow Jesus, this work reminds us how painful our history is when missionary efforts are wedded to colonization. Be prepared to have your assumptions challenged as you work through this important book chronicling the church’s oft tense relationship to indigenous people.


2. Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckertempire of cotton

In our tense moment in history as far as race relations go, we would do well to remind ourselves of the price we pay for an unchecked free market. Harvard historian Sven Beckert shows that cotton was the defining industry of the 19th century and vividly demonstrates that it was propagated by violence and the immense suffering of slaves at every level.


3. A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology by J. Richard Middletonnew heaven new earth middleton

What is the biblical vision of the Christian afterlife? In this tour de force, Middleton offers us an accessible, well-argued book that reclaims the true Christian hope—a renewed heaven and earth, which includes resurrected bodies. This has the potential to get Christians excited about God’s true promise to bring his cosmic work of salvation to fruition.


4. Charity Detox: What Charity Would Look Like If We Cared about Results by Robert D. Luptoncharity detox

In his followup to Toxic Charity, which more or less diagnosed the epidemic, community developer Robert Lupton offers concrete strategies and program outlines to help churches alleviate poverty without creating dependency. One of the positive takeaways is the imperative to invest and live in these communities with profound needs.


5. Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations about Sexuality and Spirituality by Debra Hirschredeeming sex

This book hails from a leading missional church leader who has lived it, redeemed it, and is now burdened by the challenge to help the church understand that at our core, we are all sexual beings, and our sexuality is nothing to blush about. In a post-Obergefell era, the church can no longer approach this issue haphazardly or without the insight of LGBT Christians.



6. The Shape of the New: Four Big Ideas and How They Made the Modern World by Scott L. Montgomery and Daniel Chirotshape of new

Our modern world is defined by at least four theories developed in the Enlightenment period—capitalism (a la Adam Smith), socialism (Karl Marx), evolution (Charles Darwin), and liberal democracy (Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton). With lucid analysis, this book will help readers better understand our complex, global home.


7. The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision by Owen Strachan and Kevin Vanhoozerpastor public theologian

Evangelicalism has long been plagued by a lowest common denominator philosophy of ministry—that of “just give me Jesus.” This approach misses out on the treasures of tradition and the riches of theological imagination. Here, Vanhoozer and Strachan issue a call for pastors to reclaim their birthright as theologians and generalists in the best sense of the term.


8. One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin Kruseone nation

Evangelical Christians would do well to remember that the phrase “Under God” in the pledge of allegiance and the “In God we trust” phrase on our currency were mid-20th century additions. Though overstating his case, Kevin Kruse reveals how Christian nationalism and the free market were conflated as a response to FDR’s New Deal—largely by corporations who felt threatened by new socio-economic developments in the world.


9. Simply Good News: Why the Gospel is News and What Makes It Good by N. T. Wrightsimply good news

For those familiar with N. T. Wright, this will come across as a greatest-hits sort of work and may prove disappointing. Nonetheless, this is the essential Wright in all his splendor and will serve as a suitable introduction to his compelling interpretation of the gospel.



beginning word noll10. In the Beginning Was the Word: The Bible in American Public Life, 1492-1783 by Mark A. Noll

By now, Mark Noll has earned a formidable reputation as scholar of American Christianity and for impugning the evangelical mind. In this recent work, he brings a breadth of research as he illuminates the often differing models of Scripture’s authority among varying Christian groups, and how this relates to the birth of the American nation.



Image attribution: Avosb / Thinkstock

More seeds to explore: see our Top 10 list for books on every topic; see all of our book reviews here; we publish books—view them in our store; read Derek Vreeland on why he’s started to read fiction.


Andrew is an editor for Seedbed. He enjoys spending his free time with family and friends, doing design, photography, and gardening. He lives with his family in Tennessee.


  1. I’m grateful for this list. I already had the Middleton book on my must-read list and now your Kruse and Montgomery/Chirot recommendations will join it!

  2. I appreciate the list. I’ve had Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys on my Amazon.com wishlist all year. Your recommendation just pushed me to buy it. I’m looking forward to checking out the others as well. Keep these kinds of things coming.