ERLC holiday gift guide

December 14, 2016

One of the best parts of the Christmas season is getting to give gifts. Here at the ERLC, we are huge fans of books. So, we thought a great way to combine these two things was to compile a list of some of our favorite reads in hopes that one of these suggestions will be a good fit for someone in your life. We hope you find it helpful. Happy giving!  

Russell Moore | President

Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels by Richard Hays

What a magnificent book. All four gospels—including and maybe especially my favorite, Luke—are shot through with OT allusions from start to finish. Hays demonstrates this, and he demonstrates why it is hard for many to see this. This book will help Christians grow in affection and understanding not only for Jesus in the Gospels but also, through them, for Jesus in the Old Testament as well.

Jason Thacker | Creative Director

ESV Reader's Bible, Six-Volume Set

This reader's edition of the English Standard Version Bible is designed to read like a novel, which is a great reminder that the entire Bible is to be read as one amazing love story from God to the world. This hardback edition has thicker pages than most bibles and is laid out with a readable typeface and line spacing. It doesn’t contain chapter and verse references for distraction-free reading. It will make a great gift for those wanting to change up the way they read the scriptures this next year.

Andrew Walker | Director of Policy Studies

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the creator of NIKE, Phil Knight

NIKE is everywhere throughout the culture. Something that is with us everywhere can make us forget how small this influential brand once was. That's what Shoe Dog is about—it’s the autobiography of Phil Knight, the co-founder of NIKE. As I read the book, it struck me how small decisions had enormous dividends down the road. In a similar way, the book reminded me about the small acts of divine providence that God uses to shape each of us.

Dan Darling | Vice President for Communications

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller

This book, more than any, has reshaped the way I think about telling the grand gospel narrative. If you have a friend who is far from God, this book will gently invite them in by addressing their deepest questions. If you have a friend who loves God, this will be a helpful tool in guiding his or her conversations with unbelievers.

Jill Waggoner | Deputy Press Secretary and Brand Strategist for Global Hunger Relief

They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East by Mindy Belz

This book walks through Mindy's personal experiences of reporting on the happenings and the people in the Middle East since the 9/11 attacks. It was such a refreshing, enlightening and moving book for me to read this year as I better understood this historical Christian church and the plight of current believers in the Middle East. These are our brothers and sisters, and the people and places in Belz' book are the same as those going through the headlines today—Mosul, Aleppo and the Nineveh Plains. I can't recommend it enough.

Phillip Bethancourt | Executive Vice President

The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook: Connecting Christ Throughout God's Story

Our family with four young boys loves using this Christ-centered kids resource. This storybook Bible goes beyond typical children's Bible stories to tackle the complex passages in the Bible in a kid-friendly and Christ-centered way. We have used many children's Bibles, and this one has become one of our favorites.

Travis Wussow | Director of International Justice & Religious Liberty and General Counsel

The Aleppo Codex: In Pursuit of One of the World's Most Coveted, Sacred, and Mysterious Books by Matti Friedman

This fascinating book is perfect for the history buff. The Aleppo Codex is a thousand-year-old manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, regarded by scholars as the most accurate copy of the Old Testament. This book is the story of the manuscript, preserved through a thousand years of upheavals in the Middle East and eventually smuggled to the new state of Israel. It is a thrilling story of spies, diplomats, scholars and the underground market in antiquities.

Daniel Patterson | Vice President for Operations and Chief of Staff

ESV Reader's Gospels

Crossway has beautifully bound the four Gospels into a Reader's Edition, that strips all the normal verse and chapter numbers (not to mention the study notes, cross-referencing, etc.), which drives the reader into the actual text of scripture. To be sure, all these tools and notes exist for a (good) reason, but using this for daily devotional reading has been eye-opening and refreshing, causing me to get caught up in the flow of the text itself more naturally. I've thought this a unique tool to give to people with questions about Christianity too, as the simplicity of the layout, and the centrality of the Gospels might be a unique and unintimidating format to consider the claims of Christ.

Lindsay Swartz | Managing Editor of Content

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

A book about competitive rowing didn’t sound all that interesting initially. But from first listen (I would highly recommend the audiobook!), I was captivated. Set during the Great Depression, this dramatic true story about destitution, grit, determination, hope, integrity and victory is everything you want a story to be. The author weaves masterfully a narrative about Joe Rantz that will challenge you to examine your fortitude and perseverance through life and the extent of your gratitude for the “assumed” things—like a family that loves and wants you—that God has generously given. Rantz’s story— and the invisible hand of God that the Christian knows is behind the unfolding of his days—will leave you crying, cheering and undone by the sheer enchantment of a story that reads better than any Hollywood plot.

Julie Masson | Digital Marketing and Social Media Strategist

Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds by Ping Fu

Ping Fu was born in China during the cultural revolution and because her family was educated and wealthy, she was forced to live in squalor and endure ridicule and abuse from the Red Guard. This autobiography begins during her childhood, and follows Ping all the way to her exile from China to the US where she worked as a busboy at a restaurant while learning English. She puts herself through college and eventually becomes the CEO of a multinational tech company. I learned so much reading about the Cultural Revolution through the eyes of someone who experienced extreme crimes against humanity first hand. This reminded that the world has evil in it and that evil seeks to destroy God’s image bearers. It also reminded me that we must stand up for human dignity. While this book does not chronicle the life of Christian, I highly recommend it as a gift for anyone who loves business, different cultures and a good ole’ American success story.

Matt Herriman | Executive Assistant to the President

Unparalleled: How Christianity's Uniqueness Makes It Compelling by Jared Wilson 

In the age of COEXIST, Jared Wilson, clearly communicates to readers how Christianity stands apart from the vast religions of the world. Unparalleled, reminds the Christian of the uniqueness of the gospel that brought them saving faith, while communicating to the lost world a gospel that will satisfy the deepest yearnings of their souls. 

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24