My “Most Important” Books

These are books that helped to shape my theology

“After the Bible, the first book I direct people to is ‘Knowing God.’ I read this book when I was struggling with my own theology. The chapter on the kindness and severity of God changed everything for me.”

 

In a couple months I will be posting the obligatory “best reads of the year” list. But as a guy who loves books and reading I thought I’d post a list of the books that have figured particularly large in my life. These are not merely books I love (that list would be too long). These are books that helped to shape my theology, my broader worldview, and made me fall in love with reading.

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin
I know what you’re thinking: “What a good Presbyterian!” But truly this is not just a perfunctory tip of the hat to Calvin. The Institutes is the most beautifully written theological and devotional text I have ever read.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer
After the Bible, the first book I direct people to is Knowing God. I read this book when I was struggling with my own theology. The chapter on the kindness and severity of God changed everything for me.

Fundamentalism and the Word of God by J.I. Packer
I read this book at a time when I very much needed a better grounding in the doctrine of Scripture, particularly its inerrancy. I still consider this a “must read” for Christians.

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
When I moved away from home to attend university I took my Bible and a copy of a book I had purchased just days before – The Holiness of God. If my memory serves me, it was the first Christian book I ever read cover-to-cover.

Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon
The chapter entitled “The Minister’s Fainting Fits” is worth the price of the book.

The Roots of Endurance by John Piper
This book makes the list because of the role it played in helping me stay afloat during the time I was a battered pastor. The chapter on Charles Simeon was a life preserver for me.

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
While I am now a convinced Presbyterian, it was Nine Marks of a Healthy Church which first introduced me to some categories which I had lacked having been brought up in the broad evangelicalism of the SBC. During my early and formative years in ministry I had been steeped in the categories and methods of the church growth movement. Reading Nine Marks for the first time was like a much-needed detox.

Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture by Graham Goldsworthy
There are a lot of great books on preaching out there which have helped me immensely. But all things considered Goldsworthy’s excellent volume made this list because of the way it helped me make the necessary connections between the Old Testament and Jesus.

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