Friday, October 06, 2006

The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals
...as compiled by Christianity Today

Here is the list of The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals as compiled by the editors of CT magazine.

As with any list like this, there will be some interesting choices that were included and some others that seem strangely absent from their list as well. A few that I thought should have been on the list was:

1. "The Gospel According to Jesus" by Dr. John MacArthur - which singlehandedly confronted and silenced the easy believism gospel of the non-Lordship view of salvation.

2. "The Pursuit of Holiness" and "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges - which are significant contributions in the fields of Christian Life and Christian ED.

3. The study Bible. The invention of so many study Bibles in today's world has shaped personal devotional times and Bible study profoundly. What I did find interesting, on the translation front they included "The Living Bible" (a paraphrase) as part of their top 50 and not "The NIV" which has clearly been the most influential translation to impact the general landscape of evangelicalism (though not my personal favorite) Here's hoping the ESV makes the grade next year.
What do you think? Let me know what your contributions would have been and if there are any titles that you think should clearly not have been included as well.

*Here is a list of the those whom the editors obtained their nominations:
Miriam Adeney, Phyllis Alsdurf, Leith Anderson, Jeanette Bakke, Bruce Barton, Darrell Bock, Tony Campolo, Joel Carpenter, Charles Colson, Cindy Crosby, Andy Crouch, Lane Dennis, Mark Galli, Gary Gnidovic, J. Lee Grady, David Gushee, Stan Guthrie, Mimi Haddad, Collin Hansen, Archibald Hart, Gary Haugen, Michael Horton, James Houston, Al Hsu, R. Kent Hughes, Alan Jacobs, Greg Jao, Jerry B. Jenkins, Todd Johnson, Craig Keener, Douglas LeBlanc, Anne Graham Lotz, Timothy C. Morgan, Rebecca Manley Pippert, Michael Maudlin, Gerald McDermott, Robertson McQuilken, Al Mohler, Rob Moll, Richard Mouw, David Neff, Mark Noll, Ted Olsen, Roger Olson, Richard Ostling, J. I. Packer, Richard Pierard, Patricia Raybon, Haddon Robinson, James Calvin Schaap, Luci Shaw, Ron Sider, James Sire, Howard Snyder, Russell Spittler, John Stackhouse, Agnieszka Tennant, Madison Trammel, Jim Wallis, James Emery White, John Woodbridge, Philip Yancey.

15 comments:

Joel said...

I was surprised to see only one Lewis book, although that would probably have been his most influential one. I also saw a lot of books I've wanted to read for a long time, and even several that I read in Spire comic book form in the 70s. :)

Hessel-Man said...

From my limited reading experience, I think I'd rank John MacArthur's "Ashamed of the Gospel" right up there with your nomination for "The Gospel According to Jesus", but I suppose it would be unfair to give him two nominations. Plus, based on the popularity of the Purpose Driven movement, I'm not so sure it did as much shaping as one could wish. :(

How about J. Gresham Machen's "Christianity and Liberalism"? Written awhile back, but still carries a very timely message for us today. His arguments against unbelief masquerading as "Christianity" were devastating.

Yeah, those and the Veggie Tales: Boardbook "Junior and Laura Share the Year Together". Timely, poignant, relevant, with rhyming words at the end of each and every sentence, and a great way to learn the months of the year. I've almost got them down now.

Stephen
Aptobuary 6th, 2006

MarieP said...

J. I. Packer probably endorsed them all ;)

Interesting list...

I would add Faith Works to that that list of yours. I didn't read Johnny Mac's Gospel According to Jesus, but I found Faith Works to be very instrumental in my rejection of the notion of "carnal Chistianity."

Besides, any author who has songs written about his books has GOT to be influential.

It would be wonderful to ask Reformed pastors and see what books have influenced them the most. You might have to restrict it to people still living, or you'd be in way over your head with titles!

John Piper: Desiring God, Let the Nations be Glad

R. C. Sproul: The Holiness of God, Chosen By God

James White: The Potter's Freedom

D. A. Carson: The Gagging of God, Exegetical Fallacies

Ted Tripp: Shepherding a Child's Heart

The Coming Evangelical Crisis, The Compromised Church (edited by John Armstrong...)

Robert Reymond's Systematic Theology
Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

MarieP said...

"How about J. Gresham Machen's 'Christianity and Liberalism?' Written awhile back, but still carries a very timely message for us today. His arguments against unbelief masquerading as "Christianity" were devastating."

YES! Very good book!

MarieP said...

Ed Welch: When People are Big and God is Small, Depression

And...

(Hopefully)

James White: Pulpit Crimes (this is bound to be an influential book...)

donsands said...

Not many on the list that I either know, or would endorse.
Piper, Stott, Packer, & Coleman are good books.
I never read anything by Schaeffer, but I have heard him preach. It was usually good.
The Late Great Planet I read, and now I think it is a horrible book, but not back in 1985.

One of my favorite books is Holiness, by J. C. Ryle.

Terry Rayburn said...

Disclaimer: I could never own a bookstore, because I would have too few books on the shelves, and the ones I did have on the shelves I would have to qualify and excuse so much that my customers probably wouldn't buy them.

Yet God has given "some as teachers", and these teachers write books, so I've read them by the hundreds. Almost always I find myself "eating the meat and spitting out the bones", because of the imperfections of the teacher (I recommend the same to those who read what I write).

I've often thought of writing a tongue-in-cheek essay, "Gleanings from the Heretics", since I've learned much from some who have some serious errors in their overall teaching, but who have otherwise opened up some aspect of Scripture that others have neglected or denied. (E.g., Calvin had bad ecclesiology and taught infant baptism; Luther taught baptismal grace; Pink had strong Law-based tendencies; Nee had distorted ecclesiology; Brother Lawrence was a Catholic monk; D. James Kennedy puts too much emphasis on moralistic political power; several are basically Arminian; etc.).


Having said that...

1. Good CT Top 50 picks that influenced me:

-Knowledge of the Holy, Tozer
-The Hiding Place, Ten Boom
-Out of the Saltshaker and Into
The World, Pippert
-Operation World, Johnstone
-Born Again, Colson
-Desiring God, Piper
-God's Smuggler, Brother Andrew
-The Cross and The Switchblade,
Wilkerson
-The Master Plan of Evangelism,
Coleman
-Evangelism Explosion, Kennedy
-Through Gates of Splendor, Elliot
-Knowing God, Packer
-Mere Christianity, Lewis
-Prayer: Conversing With God, Rinker

A lot of those show my age :)

2. Some that have certainly influenced the Church, but it's too bad they did:

-Left Behind, LaHaye and Jenkins
-The Meaning of Persons, Tournier
-The Cost of Discipleship,
Bonhoeffer
-Evidence That Demands A Verdict
[though I was enamored by it
in 1977], McDowell
-Power Evangelism, Wimber
-Celebration of Discipline, Foster
-Rich Christians In An Age of
Hunger, Sider
-Understanding Church Growth,
McGavran

3. Too bad these books are missing from the list:

-The Sovereignty of God, A.W. Pink
-The Practice of the Presence of
God, Brother Lawrence
-Institutes, John Calvin
-Sit Walk Stand, Watchman Nee
-Handbook To Happiness, Charles
Solomon
-The Rest of The Gospel, Dan Stone
and Greg Smith
-The Bondage of the Will, Martin
Luther
-Grace Walk, Steve McVey
-The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer
-Foxe's Book of Martyrs, John Foxe

Blessings,
Terry

Jerry Wragg said...

The list reveals much about which evangelical "pulse" CT is checking. Obviously, the circle has widened to the degree that anyone traversing the outskirts is utterly unfamiliar with the center.

Dave said...

"Landmark titles that changed the way we think, talk, witness, worship, and live.

People and movements can be defined by the books they read and remember.

The time it takes to read and digest a book requires us to engage someone else's ideas with more seriousness than almost any other activity. So it is with some trepidation that we present this list.

These are books that have shaped evangelicalism as we see it today—not an evangelicalism we wish and hope for. Books that have been published since World War II—not every book in the history of Christianity. Books that over the last 50 years have altered the way American evangelicals pray, gather, talk, and reach out—not books that merely entertained.We asked dozens of evangelical leaders for their suggestions, and they sent in their nominations. Then we vigorously debated as a staff as we ranked the 50 books. (We're still debating.)

Some argued that we should categorize the books—e.g., books that have shaped our prayer, books that have shaped our social action, books that have shaped our church life, and so forth."


Ok, first observation.

"Landmark titles that changed the way we think, talk, witness, worship, and live."

Who is "WE"? "we" the individual believer or "we" the church?

I work at a Christian bookstore and It represents to me daily the weakness of the Church of today.

Where should I "learn" or be "discipled", in the church and or material that is prescribed by the church and or guidance by the church in Biblical interpretation. Or should I learn my faith outside of the church? Or at least, should I be free to pick and choose what authors I will read without guidance from my local assembly?

I'm not saying that it isn't a good idea to explore other's thoughts and theology and I agree with some of these titles, my first point here is simply that this article leads us to believe that Evangelical Christians have to go "outside" of the church to learn their faith or "to be shaped."

Second comment.

It says, "people and movements." But again it does not mention the church. It also does not mention the Bible. This is very discouraging because we should be growing mainly from the Bible (Gods Word) and the Church. Granted, I love to read books. I have tons of them on my shelf and they have helped me to have a better understanding of Scripture and of the role of the Church. But, it is ultimately the Word of God that is the means of grace that convicts and shapes me. All the other books are merely materials that expound and teach the Word, just like the sermon.

Third point. It says that these titles have altered the way we think, pray, worship and so on. But again, this is discouraging, because I believe that the Bible and Christs' Church should be fulfilling this role and or at least recommending what is good and edifying for them to read.

Last comment.

Books should be shaped by the Church not the other way around. God's Word should be shaping the Church. Also, why books that were only written in the last 50 years? The survey is interesting, but pointless because there are many edifying works that should be read by most Christians that are older then 50 years. i.e., Calvin, Baxter, Watson, Bunyan, Owens, Edwards, Henry, Wesley, Luther, Augustine, Spurgeon, Pink, Ryle and the list goes on.

This article like almost everything I read from ChristianityToday is just another reflection of the weakness of the Modern (seekerfriendly,nondoctrinal,politicallycorrect,ecumenicalygospelcomprimisingandnondisciplining) Evangelical Church.

Des71 said...

Walter J. Chantry's "Today's Gospel: Authentic of Synthetic?" is a must read for every Christian. In this 1971 classic Chantry exposes today's synthetic gospel that requires nothing of those who hear it. Chantry expertly uses Christ's encounter with the rich young ruler in Mark 10 as an example of the biblical gospel. I love these two passages from this beautiful book, Page 33, "It is time to break with the neo-traditionalism of the evangelical world. The mass of poor dying sinners need preaching like Christ's. The world perishes for lack of a God-exalting declaration of His nature. Let us follow Jesus' example with the rich young ruler." Page 36, "Again we need to be reminded that Jesus is a better evangelist than any of us! Begin to judge your message by His, not vice versa. God's law is an essential ingredient of Gospel preaching, for 'by the law is the knowledge of sin' [Romans 3:20]. The absence of God's Holy law from modern preaching is perhaps as responsible as any other factor for the evangelistic impotence of our Churches and missions."

I recently heard Walter J. Chantry preach in Kirkland, Washington. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to thank him for writing this book and for participating in "Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism" DVD that was so helpful to me in embracing the Doctrines of Grace. Soli Deo Gloria!

Pete Williamson said...

Terry...those are some good books in your third list, however CT limited themselves to books published since WW2.

Gordan said...

Soren Keirkegaard (sp?) and his "Attack on Christendom" has influenced Western evangelicalism to an extent that is difficult to overstate, and yet so few have actually read it.

Inasmuch as we are overrun with Existentialism (at least in terms of practice if not purposeful thought)we have that book to thank/blame.

Finney's writings on revival have similary shaped us in a "behind the scenes" way.

Relatively unknown books can have an effect on the entire church by influencing its pastors and theologians.

Bill said...

jerry wragg writes: The list reveals much about which evangelical "pulse" CT is checking.

Bingo! This is what should be taken from the CT list. While it's fun to list our own book faves, the real interesting part of the article/list is what it says about the current state of evangelicalism. I'd be interested in seeing our favorite bloggers attack this more from that angle, although I do like seeing what's on Campi's book list! :-)

----
wfseube

Bryan Riley said...

I've known a lot of people who talk about the impact of Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels on their life. I also think Francis Schaffer had impact for those who could take the time to chew on his meaty work.

CalvinNo5 - Chris Allen said...

I would nominate:
John Mac's "Gospel According to Jesus
RC Sproul's "The Holiness of God" and "Chosen By God"
John Piper's "Desiring God"
Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress"
John Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion"
Mike Horton's "God of Promise"
Kim Riddlebarger's "A Case for Amillennialism"
Jonathan Edward's "Freedom of the Will"
Martin Luther's "Bondage of the Will"
Steve Camp's "107 Thesis"