It’s now been over two weeks since we’ve been sheltering at home. I’ve posted every day for 14 days. After all the research I did for yesterday’s post, I’m feeling a little brain-dead today. So here’s something on the lighter side. It’s Friday, after all.
Without too much commentary, here are the top ten books that I would say have had the biggest impact on me when it comes to my theological perspective. Some of these brought about massive paradigm shifts as a result of reading them. Some have affected the course of my life in pivotal seasons. Their place here does not imply that I agree with every idea proposed in all of them, but that does not diminish the importance they’ve had in my journey.
- Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis — The one that jump-started my journey as a theologian, and a constant reminder of the beauty of the core doctrines all Christians can agree on, even amidst the great diversity in the church.
- The Reason for God by Tim Keller — The cogent arguments in this book helped save my faith in a season of intense doubt (read more about that here).
- The Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll — God used this book to remind me how radical his grace toward me really is, and it opened my eyes to how badly I needed to learn to have grace with myself, too.
- Living by the Book by Howard G. Hendricks & William Hendricks — My introduction to the basics of biblical exegesis back when I was a total noob in college. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere.
- Against Calvinism by Roger Olson — Helped me put my finger on the philosophical problems my previously-held Calvinistic framework never could quite explain and that I always felt terribly uneasy about.
- Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship by Michael J. Wilkins — Honed my abiding passion for discipleship into what eventually became a course I now teach annually for college interns.
- Justification by N. T. Wright, and Salvation by Allegiance Alone by Matthew Bates — Putting these together as a tie for #7 since I read them back-to-back and since both helped me get more comfortable swimming in the massive pool that is the New Perspectives on Paul movement. Also, both these books helped me articulate a fuller definition of “faith” that’s more accurate to what the NT envisions.
- Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy edited by J. Merrick & Stephen M. Garrett — Phew, boy! This one forced me to reexamine all of my presuppositions about how the Bible works and how it’s meant to be read. I’d say my faith in Scripture’s truthfulness and authority is stronger (but also more nuanced) than ever thanks to reading it.
- Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns — Similar to the one above. After deconstructing my initial doctrine of Scripture, this particular book by Enns was helpful for reconstruction, and I’ve since adopted the “progressive or genre-based inerrancy” approach he articulates.
- Reading Revelation Responsibly by Michael J. Gorman, and Revelation: Anchor Yale Bible Commentary by Craig R. Koester — I list these two together as a tie because I read them back-to-back in a season when I was reexamining my entire approach to eschatology (last things) and the book of Revelation. Gorman’s provocative book put the nail in the coffin of my previous “Left Behind” dispensationalist approach, while Koester’s excellent commentary opened my eyes to the literary, historical, and theological beauty of Revelation when the fearmongering of American end-times culture is, pardon the pun, left behind.
And those are the top ten theology books that have influenced me. At least, the ones whose influence I can most clearly bring to mind; others have no doubt left more indelible marks.
What books have most changed your life or your thinking? Let me know in the comments.
See you down the path.