My ten most formative books

miscellaneous

Some of my friends on Facebook have been sharing ten books that had an impact on them, so I thought I’d get in on the trend. I nearly didn’t, because the truth is that I find it hard to finish a book.

I’m not a great reader (that surprises some people), and it amazes me how quickly some people can read piles of books. If the writing is particularly dense I have to read it slowly or read it several times. Sometimes the problem is that the writer thinks he’s saying something really profound and I don’t see it, so I look really hard to find it, only to end up realising that he has simply overestimated himself (it’s usually a he) and there’s nothing of interest to find. The upshot of the way I read, I think, is that I come away really understanding what I’ve read, but the downside is that I don’t get a huge amount of reading done – certainly not as much as I’d like to. Plus, a book has to really hold my interest. If a book engages me then things are different and I can go through it pretty quickly, but I’m just not committed enough to stick it out if the writing is too dull. My attention span shrinks to nothing. That’s partly why so much of my learning in the issues that interest me has come not from reading long books but from following the conversation in journal articles and essays.

Anyway – here’s my list. Remember, these aren’t necessarily my favourite books, nor are they necessarily books I would agree with in any detail now. These are just books that I remember having an impact on me. I wasn’t certain of the order in which they should go, so consider the ranks to be approximate.

1 Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil

I think it was 1997 when I read this, although the book was already nearly twenty years old (published in 1978). I was studying music and had just married Ruth. One of my classes was an elective in critical thinking and I had fairly recently acquired a taste for philosophy of religion (but had read virtually nothing in the field). At about that time my friend Matt Flannagan had not long ago started a Master of Social Science degree, writing a thesis on Alvin Plantinga and the rationality of theism (looking mostly at the notion of theism as a properly basic belief). I was more interested in theology than philosophy (I was to go to Bible College in 1999), but as I found philosophy of religion fascinating, I got Plantinga’s book God, Freedom, and Evil out of the local library.

I loved this book mostly for its writing style, actually. I had read some philosophy of religion (my first ever exposure was from New Essays in Philosophical Theology which was fairly dated but still very good reading), but Plantinga’s style in this book had a stark, simple directness. I had never seen questions about Christian belief discussed with such rigour before. “You can write like this about God? Wow! I need to read more of this!” Thank goodness my first Plantinga book wasn’t The nature of Necessity or out of pure dread I would never have opened another philosophy book! Although even at the time I didn’t agree with everything I found in it (I remember being sympathetic to Kant’s objection to the ontological argument), this book revolutionised my direction in thinking and got me well and truly hooked on analytic philosophy of religion.

2 Greg L. Bahnsen, No Other Standard: Theonomy and Its Critics

Theonomy is a dirty word for some people. It’s the view that all biblical ethics, including Old Testament law, is applicable today. Bahnsen’s larger work, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, generated a small storm of controversy, with evangelical scholars from both the Reformed and dispensational schools of thought launching salvos in his direction. This book is a response to his critics, and in a word, it’s devastating. This book, along with my own subsequent research (this book prompted me to write a Master’s dissertation on the subject) opened my eyes wide to the fact that so many respectable evangelical scholars are like emperors without clothes, holding to views and rejecting views that they “ought” to hold and reject, but without having even the slightest ability to credibly defend the positions they hold or to articulate good arguments against the positions they reject. Both in terms of reason and in terms of Scripture, they profess allegiance to both and yet made a mockery of both in their tortured responses, and Bahnsen showed this clearly. From Wayne House to Thomas Ice to Meredith Kline to Rodney Clapp, the critics of theonomy were virtually clambering over themselves to offer up shoddy arguments.

This book was an important juncture in my growth, not just because of the view that Bahnsen held, but also as a clear wake-up call about the partisan nonsense that goes on within the evangelical establishment and the appalling reasoning that would-be gatekeepers of that establishment are prepared to employ to fend off views that we’re not supposed to hold (I see a very similar thing when it comes to critics of annihilationism, and I have often privately compared the two disputes for that reason). Reading this book created an impression on me that has encouraged me considerably in more recent controversial issues and reminded me not to fear anybody because of their pedigree. Big names say stupid things all the time when it’s their job to do so. But while Bahnsen made his critics look foolish, he never called them fools. He showed that their arguments turn out to be downright idiotic at times, but he never called them idiots. This, too, made an impression on me. The most devastating criticism is one that is delivered forthrightly but without any trace of malice.

3 Sidney Hatch, Daring to Differ: Adventures in Conditional Immortality

I read this book in my late teens (1993 or 1994). I had been mortified to learn that our youth group leader didn’t hold to the traditional view of hell as a place of the eternal torment of the damned. He didn’t believe that we have immortal souls, but rather that we are mortal creatures who really die – we don’t survive as a disembodied soul and slip away to heaven (or anywhere else for that matter). Eternal life, in the end, was a gift, and those who reject the God who offers this gift will not have eternal life at all. They will come to an end. I didn’t realise that any Christians believed that, and I certainly wasn’t interested in changing my mind. So he lent me this book, which I read as somebody who was pretty hostile to the view of the author. One chapter at a time, the author winsomely began to win me over to the view I now hold – both on human nature and the doctrine of the last judgement. I actually don’t recall how persuaded I was by the time I finished the book (more persuaded than not, I think), but I’d certainly had my eyes opened.

I realise that for a lot of people who hold to an “annihilationist” or “conditionalist” view, the author most responsible for persuading them is Edward Fudge in his magisterial work, The Fire that Consumes, now in its third edition. Fudge would quite possibly have been that author for me, too, had Hatch not gotten to me first.

4 St Athanasius the Great, On the Incarnation of the Word

This is the first work of one of the Church Fathers that I read, which may also have something to do with its impact, being my introduction to the patristic writings. Still, I think Athanasius’ writing style appeals to me more than probably any of the other Fathers. This work is an inspiring / inspired treatment of the Incarnation of God in Jesus, the Word made flesh. It paints a bold outline of Christian theology as a whole, too, from the fall and its consequences to the necessity of the Word becoming flesh, and even to an interesting foray into historical apologetics, offering responses to various objections to the authenticity of the Gospel accounts of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. So much for those who think that “apologetics” is a modern phenomenon!

5 Peter Singer, Rethinking Life and Death

I think Peter Singer is horrendously wrong. But this book helped to bring the landscape of disagreement about bioethics – well, abortion in particular for me – into stark relief. He explained in a manner reminiscent of a number of Christian apologists, actually, but as a hostile witness, or so it seemed, that (and this is my summary of him) once you strip away all that religious mumbo-jumbo, there’s no intrinsic distinction between us and farm animals. Newborn babies are no more rational or self-aware than newborn pigs, and it is only a social and religious construct that allows us to feel that they have more value. We (and this is still my summary, not my own view) frankly need to get over our constructs and face the facts. Forget this nonsense about the image of God and admit that the unborn (and probably the newborn) are worth only what they are worth to us. Or at least that’s what I took from this book, and I felt as though my eyes had been opened: They do realise (some of) the implications of what they are saying, and they say it anyway. I read this book and thought: He gets it. Disputes about human dignity and value are religious disputes. I wish more people got it.

6 William Watkins, The New Absolutes

The inclusion of this book may surprise people. It’s a voice in the Evangelical “culture wars,” you might think (if you’ve read it), it’s reactionary, it’s conservative and so on. Heck, it even got an endorsement from Norman Geisler (but that’s somewhat balanced out by the fact that it also got an endorsement from Francis Beckwith). But firstly, I’m somewhat conservative myself! Secondly, remember that I’m talking about books that, biographically, had an influence. And this one did (plus I agree with a lot of it). This is probably the first book I read that could really be thought of as part of the culture war, a book about secular influences eroding traditional Christian values in American society (although the observations ring true for much of the developed world). This was my introduction to an important aspect, not so much of Evangelical theology but Evangelical culture – even Evangelical sociology. The basic thesis of the book is hard to deny: Contemporary, irreligious liberal culture is sometimes thought of as taking a relativist stance on all sort of moral and social issues, so that dogmatism is viewed with a certain suspicion. The truth, however – and this is the message of the book that really sank in – is very different. When it comes to religion, the sanctity of life, marriage, sexuality, gender, race and other things besides, what we are seeing is not the abandonment of hard-line absolutism in favour of more open-mindedness. All we are seeing is the rejection of one set of absolutes and the substitution of it with another – another perhaps even more dogmatic.

7 Francis Beckwith, Politically Correct Death: Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights

If you’re ever involved in pro-life work, especially among students, you should have a copy of this book. It’s the standard. Yes, there are more in-depth treatments of the subject, but this is eminently accessible. Does it deal with those who take the stance of Peter Singer or Michael Tooley who would say that sure, their view on abortion commits them to defending infanticide, and they accept that? No, but the truth is that the people you speak do in this social conversation almost invariably find that position horrific anyway. When I was involved in campus and youth pro-life work, this was an indispensable resource, and one that can be really encouraging to people who want to speak up about the issue but don’t know what to say. Would I read it again now? No, but I’m no longer the target audience. When I was the target audience, this book brought home to me the fact that the most obvious reasons to be pro-life are far more compelling than the arguments that most abortion rights activists use.

8 James Blunt, Undesigned Coincidences

The full title is Undesigned coincidences in the writings both of the Old and New Testament: an argument of their veracity: with an appendix, containing undesigned coincidences between the Gospels and Acts, and Josephus. I love old book titles (this one was published in 1851). They always tell you what you’re in for.

This is a book that Tim McGrew alerted me to. There’s a wealth of books from centuries gone by on assessing the credibility of the Gospels that a lot of us today are simply unaware of (they’re out of print and just aren’t being republished). Blunt’s book is excellent and really opened my eyes to the quality of some of that work. In it he highlights the way that different writings in the Bible unintentionally reinforce each other, so that apparently innocuous details in one Gospel make best sense in light of apparently innocuous details in other Gospels, in such a way that it is implausible to think that anyone conspired to plant those details there, and in which such details and their explanatory function bolster the case for the reliability of the accounts that form the basis of the Gospels that we have.

9 Philip Quinn, Divine Commands and Moral Requirements

Although not a long book (176 pages), this is the best defence of a Divine Command Theory of ethics in print, I think. It is also the first book I read on the subject, which may account for why the theory has always seemed to attractive to me, given how good the book is. Although published back in 1978, to date it does not seem to me that anybody has successfully overthrown it.

10 Brian Davies, The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil

Most people who are interested in apologetics are familiar with the various responses to the problem of evil; that is, the responses that exist within the world of Evangelical Apologetics. Davies’ work is refreshingly different, approaching the same problem but from a much more historical position, that of classical theology (his specialty appears to be Thomas Aquinas). Over the last half-decade or so my thoughts have been turning in a much more classical direction when I think about theology, and Davies’ book helped me immensely along that journey.

There are other books, of course, that have played important roles in my thinking and learning. Nicholas Wolterstorff and Robert Audi in Religion in the Public Square prompted my PhD dissertation. The multi-authored volumes In Search of the Soul (now republished by Wipf and Stock) and What About the Soul? helped to focus my thinking about human nature. The book by Paul Eddy and Greg Boyd, The Jesus Legend, gave me a better coverage of the question of the historicity of man Jesus of Nazareth than any other book. And so on.

One book that very nearly made the list is Antoine de Saint Exupery’s children’s book The Little Prince. I am not a fan of fiction books, but this one is a masterpiece with so many applications to theology and philosophy. But I think (although I could be wrong as self-diagnosis is notoriously difficult) that these ten books may be those that have had more of an impact on my trajectories in thinking than any others. I didn’t list the Bible because, well duh.

What are the ten books that have served this role for you?

Glenn Peoples

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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Brandon Barr September 8, 2014, 2:14 am

    Nice list. I like that you at least had one fiction book in there 😉

  • Christopher Bowers September 8, 2014, 4:13 am

    1. The Gospels
    Growing up Catholic, the Gospels are read at every mass and this had a profound effect on me. I am constantly surprised by how much of Christianity has nothing to do with the Gospels whatsoever and how different Christians and Christianity is from this man who would lay down his life for his friends. Jesus’ teaching on parables, the kingdom of heaven and his uncompromising message of moral and social justice never ceases to amaze me.

    2. The Tao Teh Ching
    This book has never ceased to be a source of solace and inspiration to me, and encourages people to understand things by both going with the flow AND thinking outside the box. As a small book of poetry the entirety of Eastern Philosophy (and religion) rests on every word.

    3. The Gospel of Thomas
    In this work we have a perfect bridge between the Tao Teh Ching and the Gospels. Several confirming factors have shown that there is historical merit to this text (especially for understanding the context of the other Gospels and the concept of “Kingdom of Heaven”) and Christians by and large unfairly cast it out as a forgery. This is the singularly most significant archaeological discovery EVER, and to think that some of the writing here may have been uttered by Jesus himself sends shivers down my spine.

    4. C.S. Lewis
    I am unwilling to pick a particular book, because irrespective of if we are talking about the Chronicles of Narnia, or Mere Christianity, the result is the same. He explains a well thought out Christianity which rings quite triumphant and is incredibly compelling.

    5. A Bundle of Sticks/The Karate Kid Script
    These two works: a moral tales about martial arts, self defense, and the fine line of pacifism and bullying, truly guided my entire life. The tale is told in such a gripping manner, and the moral message of being a good person rings so clear, that it is a place of refuge in my darkest times.

    6. Crito
    In my view, Socrates’ argumentation style and the Socratic method, touching on Monotheism, Polytheism and Atheism, is the most outstanding example of philosophy of all time.

    7. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica
    What can I say? The finest Christian mind ever created and his arguments are just as compelling today as then.

    8. P.D. Ouspensky, The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution
    Ouspensky, the finest philosopher in Russian history, explains WHY we are a slave to our minds, our desires and our competing identities, and how to focus on changing your fundamental habits and misconceptions about yourself, towards moral freedom.

    9. Hamlet.
    It’s Hamlet. Shakespeares finest work. Do I have to justify this? As a side note, Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead also expands on several of the philosophical themes.

    10. Shadowlands
    This Book and movie are absolutely foundational for me in understanding the nature of God and suffering. Sorry, it’s C.S. Lewis again….

  • Brendan Larsen September 8, 2014, 12:26 pm

    Hi Glenn. Thanks for a really interesting blog post. I’m surprised at your second book choice though. Are you a theonomist? Bahnsen is one of my heroes, but this is one area that I disagree with him on. I haven’t read the book, but from what I understand of theonomy it goes way too far in terms of wanting to reinstitute the OT laws. A few months ago one article was posted by a friend of mine that was arguing that abortionists should be put to death and that that would be the penalty if God’s law was reinstituted. While I agree that abortion is murder, to me that goes way too far and it’s only a short step from there into crazy Christians going and shooting abortionists. I mean, doesn’t theonomy advocate for the death penalty for homosexuality, and adultery etc? Maybe I’m misunderstanding theonomy and going off on a tangent. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts more on this topic (or maybe you’ve already written a blog post about it in the past?)

  • Glenn September 8, 2014, 1:11 pm

    Brendan, as I said, whether I agree with the books or not, these were formative for me, but I’m not going to go from inviting people to share their list of books to arguing about biblical law (or the content of any of these books). This thread is just about the former. Maybe I’ll say something about the latter in a later blog post – but I’m surprised that a presuppositionalist would reject an argument about what Scripture teaches because it doesn’t gel with his intuitions. 😉 If you’re interested, you can follow the link and download the book, which is available for free.

    What are your ten most formative books, Brendan?

  • Brendan Larsen September 8, 2014, 2:22 pm

    Sorry if I went off on a tangent from what the purpose of the blog is. Thanks for asking about my top 10 list – it’s a great question – so here we go

    My 10 Most Formative Books

    1. The Bible

    The Bible more than any other book has formed my thinking.

    2. The New Answers Book 1 – Over 25 Questions on Creation / Evolution and the Bible (Ken Ham ed.)

    This book blew me away when I first read it as a teenager and it’s still foundational to my thinking. It was called
    “The Answers Book” when I read it, but a year or so ago I reread the updated version and still got a lot from it.

    3. The Lie: Evolution / Millions of Years (Ken Ham)

    Again – this book is another one that has shaped my thinking and helped me to understand why evolution is wrong and why God’s
    word needs to be the foundation for our thinking in every area.

    4. Refuting Compromise – A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of “Progressive Creationism” (Billions of Years), As Popularized
    by Astronomer Hugh Ross (Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D.)

    This one goes more in depth and digs into the Hebrew and Greek and shows why 6 days means 6 days.

    5. Already Gone – Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it (Ken Ham & Britt Beemer)

    I read this a few years ago and it helped me to further realise why the creation evolution issue is so important, and also
    why churches need to be teaching not just creation apologetics but general apologetics.

    6. Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith (Greg L. Bahnsen)

    I read this book after watching a lot of Bahnsen videos and listening to a lot of his audio teachings, and it reinforced my
    understanding of the importance of presuppositional apologetics.

    7. Eternity in Their Hearts (Don Richardson)

    I read this book years ago and it’s shaped the way I think about missions and evangelism. God truly is at work in the hearts and lives
    of individuals and people groups around the world, and it’s our job to not only call people to repentance but to help them connect
    what they already know about God to the gospel. This book contains many stories of people movements to Christ and how often missionaries
    got to remote peoples and found that God had already told them that a white man would come with a black book to tell them about God and
    that they should listen to his man. The book also shows why it’s so important to contextualise the gospel – a great example is the
    chapter in the book about Korea and how missionaries were initially using the wrong word for God, but when they started using the right
    Korean word for God they started to see thousands come to Christ.

    8. Living Wisdom (David Riddell)

    This book is no longer in print, but David Riddell is a theologian and christian counsellor who has had a big impact on my life.
    The importance of beliefs and truth is clearly shown through this book, and through David’s ministry.

    9. In Six Days – why fifty scientists choose to…

  • Brendan Larsen September 8, 2014, 5:56 pm

    Woops – I didn’t realise that it had cut off the last 2 on my list. Thanks for letting me know, and sorry the list went over the character limit.

    9. In Six Days – why fifty scientists choose to believe in creation (John F. Ashton PhD ed.)

    The title sums it up well. 50 chapters, each written by a different scientist who explain why they believe in biblical creation (also known as YEC).

    10. The Ultimate Proof of Creation – resolving the origins debate (Dr Jason Lisle)

    I read this book about a year ago and it was the first book that got me onto presuppositional apologetics. It also has a few chapters on logic and logical fallacies that have been really helpful.

  • Ciaron September 8, 2014, 6:30 pm

    1. Willard Price’s Adventure series. Great adventures, and great role models for young boys.

    2. Anabasis of Xenophon. Determination, Courage, Honour.

    3. Tested by Fire. John Piper, True christian manliness.

    4. Calvin. F.Bruce Gordon.

    More later.

  • Frank September 9, 2014, 7:36 am

    Thanks for the list, Glenn! I’m gonna get copies of your #4, #9, & The Little Prince. Here’s my list:

    1 Emily Dickenson, Poems

    I first read Emily Dickenson in 7th grade English class and I was immediately captured by her ability to convey so much so powerfully with so few words. Reading her poetry was what first gave me the enjoyment of reading and writing. ‘Much Madness’ was one of my favorites.

    2 Mark Heard, Ashes and Light

    Ok, so Mark Heard was a musician, and Ashes and Light is an album not a book, but his lyrics had such profound effect on my thinking as a young Christian that I’d be remiss if I didn’t include him. His was the first non-lockstep, non-bumpersticker Christian voice I heard during the time of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and rampant Pentecostal & Charismatic ‘outpourings.’ I needed this as a new believer. Check out ‘Straw Men’ and ‘True Confessions’ from that album. I learned from him that my natural contrarian tendencies don’t have to be sublimated, and that faith isn’t opposed to reason. His last three albums are unparalleled.

    3 G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

    Reading Orthodoxy for the first time was a profound experience. I enjoyed his more metaphysical apologetic and his oblique approach to truth as we experience it.

    4 Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

    I guess it wasn’t terribly formative for me, really; it was mostly a good read that served to further ensconce me in my already existing suspicion and distrust of all salesmen, whether physical or digital, regardless of what’s being peddled.

    5 Wilkins, Michael J. and J.P. Moreland, eds., Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus

    This was my first foray into reading serious modern Christian apologetics. My father-in-law was a chaplain squarely in the Jesus Seminar camp.

    6 C.S. Lewis, Abolition of Man

    I think this may be the most important book written in the last hundred years. It makes his other works pale in comparison, excepting maybe Till We Have Faces.

    7 Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God?

    The first really popular apologetic that I enjoyed (I consider Lewis’s Abolition of Man to be on another level).

    8 Mortimer Adler, The Difference of Man and the Difference it Makes

    This was one of the first purely philosophical books I read, and it took some time to work through. Adler was a dualist, so I wonder how he would answer a physicalist approach to what he saw as the ‘immaterial’ aspects of human nature.

    9 G.K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross

    Chesterton’s ‘The Man Who Was Thursday’ was great, but this is unlike anything I have ever read. Philosophy, religion, politics, etc. rolled into a hilarious, thought-provoking novella by the best wordsmith since Shakespeare. It taught me that you can be friends with your ideological enemies, even while trying to ‘kill’ them.

    10 I’m waiting for Glenn’s Kickstarter campaign to produce my #10.

  • Eli September 9, 2014, 10:15 am

    1. Surrendra Gangadean – A Philosophical Foundation:

    Similar to presuppositional apologists, Gangadean believes that less basic beliefs are understood in light of basic beliefs. Unlike presuppositional apologists, he takes Reason rather than scripture as the most basic presupposition. He evaluates possible worldviews based on for coherence of meaning. Rejecting incoherent meaningless propositions, he affirms their contraries in order to establish a philosophical foundation, ultimately for the Christian worldview

    2. Robert Pirsig – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance

    Quality? What is Quality? This is the philosophical manifesto of a man who becomes obsessed with defining Quality; the whole by which life is divided up and the reconciliation of classical and romantic views which seem to be unable to communicate.

    3. Daniel Kahneman – Thinking Fast and Slow:

    Cognitive strain is a scarce resource by your active, thinking self. So in order to make so many decisions throughout the day, you have to rely on your automatic self, which is prone to the same mistakes over and over. This is a very robust overview of the psychology of bias, and the implications it has for economic science. Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist, won the Nobel Prize for it in Economics.

    4. Bryan Caplan – Myth of the Rational Voter

    The cost of a rational vote is all on the individual, while the effect of that vote is almost entirely on others. Basic economic theory (tragedy of the commons) suggests that this means there is no incentive for voters to vote rationally or have rational economic beliefs. So instead of exercising intellectual discipline and a field of knowledge called “economics” when constructing their economic beliefs, voters revert to makework bias, anti-foreigner bias, anti-market bias, and pessimistic biases.

  • Colin September 11, 2014, 5:04 am

    My ten most formative books:

    *2-10 are simply arranged by surname in alphabetical order*

    1. The Bible.

    Note: I recommend the Common English Bible (CEB), the Contemporary English Version (CEV), the English Standard Version (ESV) and/or the New International Version (NIV).

    2. ‘When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners?’ (non-fiction) by Ian G. Barbour.

    http://www.bookdepository.com/When-Science-Meets-Religion-Ian-Barbour/9780060603816

    3. ‘Defending Life: a Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice’ (non-fiction) by Francis J. Beckwith.

    Note: I also recommend Patrick Lee’s ‘Abortion and Unborn Human Life’ (second edition) AND/OR Christopher Kaczor’s ‘The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice’.

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Defending-Life-Francis-Beckwith/9780521691352

    4. ‘Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God’ (non-fiction) by Paul Copan.

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Is-God-Moral-Monster-Paul-Copan/9780801072758

    5. ‘Matilda’ (fiction) by Roald Dahl.

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Matilda-Roald-Dahl/9780142402535

    6. ‘Did Jesus Exist?: the Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth’ (non-fiction) by Bart D. Ehrman.

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Did-Jesus-Exist-Bart-Ehrman/9780062204608

    7. ‘Our Idea of God: an Introduction to Philosophical Theology’ (non-fiction) by Thomas V. Morris.

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Our-Idea-God-Tom-Morris/9781573831017

    8. ‘The Epic of Eden: a Christian Entry into the Old Testament’ (non-fiction) by Sandra L. Richter.

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Epic-Eden-Sandra-Richter/9780830825776

    9. ‘Why I Am Not a Calvinist’ (non-fiction) by Jerry L. Walls and Joseph R. Dongell.

    Note: I also recommend ‘Hell: the Logic of Damnation’ by Jerry L. Walls (the first of the two co-authors listed here) for a good introduction to Hell as a Christian doctrine, and for a philosophical and theological defence of the author’s own Christian understanding of an eternal Hell.

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Why-I-Am-Not-Calvinist-Visiting-Scholar-Center-for-Philosophy-Religion-Jerry-Walls/9780830832491

    10. Various short stories (fiction) by H.G. Wells found in various short story collections.

    Note: I am also a fan of Dickens and Gaskell who both wrote just a few decades earlier than Wells but short stories can be easier to read and Wells certainly has some really great short stories such as ‘The New Accelerator’ and ‘The Queer Story of Brownlow’s Newspaper’. For books by H.G. Wells I recommend The Invisible Man, The Time Machine, The First Men in the Moon, The War of the Worlds, and The Sleeper Awakes.

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Country-Blind-Wells/9780486482897

    http://www.bookdepository.com/Country-Blind-Other-Selected-Stories-Wells/9780141441986

  • dgsinclair May 19, 2015, 7:44 am

    I haven’t done one of these lists in a while, but here’s one book meme I completed a few years back. http://www.wholereason.com/2006/08/book-meme.html

  • Michael Kenan Baldwin March 9, 2017, 7:59 pm

    1. The Good God by Mike Reeves (also called ‘Delighting in the Trinity’) – outside of the Bible this has probably shaped me and affected me more than any other. A little work of around 100 pages that is packed full of theological goodness, showing how the Trinity affects everything. It’s deeply read in historical theology and has some fantastic insights. Life changing!
    2. Reasonable Faith by WLC – this was my introduction to apologetics and philosophy of religion near the end of my time in high-school and it has had a huge impact on my life trajectory.
    3. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by WLC and JP Moreland – was my refuge of sanity whilst I studied Philosophy at Oxford; I would read the relevant chapter to orient myself to a Christian approach before writing my essay on the subject.
    4. The Warrant Trilogy – as I studied epistemology I was utterly convinced by Plantinga’s model, and moved towards a Reformed approach to theology and philosophy contra my previous Molinist/Arminian background.
    5. Communion with the Triune God by John Owen – this absolute classic work of theology by arguably the greatest Puritan mind is just superb. It showed me that theology must always lead into communion with the Father, Son and SPirit (each person distinctly), as well as the of positive and constructive theology rather than negatively showing how others are wrong or heresy-hunting. I’d highly recommend it to you.
    6. Lord of the Rings. Mesmerising, captivating. Unforgettable.
    7. Athanasius On the Incarnation, with the unmissably delicious preface by C. S. Lewis. Like you, my gentle and passionate introduction to the patristics.
    8. Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings – edited by Timothy Lull, I couldn’t choose between some of Martin’s corkers. His theology has been heart-forming for me and ministry-shaping. An absolute fire-brand.
    9. Tim Keller – I really can’t pick one single book as he’s been so formative for me on so many subjects he’s written on.
    10. Tactics by Greg Koukl – not a classic by any means, but it really has profoundly changed the way I interact with non-Christians.

  • Chris Wooldridge March 10, 2017, 12:26 am

    In no particular order…

    CS Lewis – Mere Christianity
    Jeff Meyers – The Lord’s Service
    Peter Leithart – Deep Exegesis
    Peter Leithart – From Silence to Song
    Cordwainer Smith – Complete works (fiction)
    Athanasius – On the Incarnation
    Calvin – Institutes of the Christian Religion
    James B Jordan – Through New Eyes
    GK Chesterton – Orthodoxy
    Tim Keller – The Reason for God

  • Chris Wooldridge March 10, 2017, 12:34 am

    Actually should have mentioned Graeme Goldsworthy’s “Gospel and Kingdom” in there as well. Also, Arthur Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God”. Would probably have much to disagree with in both now, but both were hugely formative.

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