I invited my readers to contribute to a list of books they felt every Christian should read. Yes, the Bible is not on here, as I felt that one was kind of obvious and goes without saying. So if you’re a Christian and haven’t read the Bible, find a good companion study guide and start there. As for what to read next, this is a pretty strong list of contenders in the top 25, though painfully heavy on male writers. For the full list of 75 or so books, CLICK HERE. And no, I did not add my own memoir to this list. Thanks to those who did add it and vote for it, though.
Love Wins: Rob Bell – Bestselling author Rob Bell returns with a provocative new book which gets to the heart of questions about life and death. His perspective, encapsulated by his famous slogan ‘love wins,’ will surprise and challenge both Christians and atheists, and will inspire people of all faiths and none.
Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World: Henri Nouwen – A beautiful and sensitive book that reaches out to the believer. –Church and Synagogue Library AssociationAnyone who is searching for the Spirit of God in the world today will benefit from reading it. –HorizonsFor those unfamiliar with his work, this volume is a wonderful place to begin. Another significant achievement.
The Ragamuffin Gospel: Brennan Manning – A Furious Love Is Hot on Your Trail! Many believers feel stunted in their Christian growth. We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, pull away from God because we subconsciously believe He tallies our defects and hangs His head in disappointment.
TheIrresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical: Shane Claiborne – If there is such a thing as a disarming radical, 30-year-old Claiborne is it. A former Tennessee Methodist and born-again, high school prom king, Claiborne is now a founding member of one of a growing number of radical faith communities. His is called the Simple Way, located in a destitute neighborhood of Philadelphia.
The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith: Marcus Borg – Borg follows up two of his previous releases about the Bible and Jesus with a volume that could easily have played on those titles, because this highly readable book is essentially about looking at Christianity again for the first time.
Stranger in a Strange Land: Robert Heinlein – The epic saga of an earthling, Valentine Michael Smith, born and educated on Mars, who arrives on our planet with psi powers—telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, telekinesis, teleportation, pyrolysis, and the ability to take control of the minds of others—and complete innocence regarding the mores of man.
A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey: Brian McLaren – McLaren, pastor and author of The Church on the Other Side, proposes that postmodernism is the road to take in order to move on from the current stalemate between conservative evangelical and liberal Christians. His books are part of his activist work to promote “innovation, entrepreneurial leadership and a desire to be on the leading edge of ministry.”
Man’s Search for Meaning: Viktor Frankl – One of the great books of our time. -Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People”One of the outstanding contributions to psychological thought in the last fifty years.”-Carl R. Rogers (1959)”An enduring work of survival literature.” -New York Times”An accessible edition of the enduring classic.
The Jesus I Never Knew: Philip Yancey – An old adage says, “God created man in His own image and man has been returning the favor ever since.” Philip Yancey realized that despite a lifetime attending Sunday school topped off by a Bible college education, he really had no idea who Jesus was.
The Orthodox Heretic: And Other Impossible Tales: Peter Rollins – Don’t be fooled by the slender spine of this unusual book. Rollins, the Irish philosopher/po-mo theologian who has previously published How (Not) to Speak of God and The Fidelity of Betrayal, upends some of Christians’ most cherished platitudes about God in his newest outing.
The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief: Peter Rollins – Rollins possesses the freshest theological voice of the emerging church movement. The leader of an ecclesial community called Ikon that meets in pubs in his native Northern Ireland came out of nowhere with his How (Not) to Speak of God in 2006, where he made the tools of postmodern philosophy accessible to nonspecialists.
My Name Is Asher Lev: Chaim Potok – “A novel of finely articulated tragic power. . . . Little short of a work of genius.” –The New York Times Book Review “Memorable. . . . Profound in its vision of humanity, of religion, and of art.”–The Wall Street Journal”Such a feeling of freshness, of something brand-new. . .
The Mystery of Christ . . . and Why We Don’t Get It: Robert Farrar Capon – Capon’s theme is the understanding of the Christian concept of grace through faith; he feels that this “mystery” is in this world, not some mystical experience of another realm. The popular idea that the goal of Christianity and the church is to make people “nonsinners” is replaced, in his argument, with the understanding that God’s grace makes people “sin-forgivers.”
LtQ: The Book! | Living the Questions: David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy – In “Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity” (HarperOne, 2012), United Methodist pastors David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy present a lively and stimulating tour of what it means to be a “progressive” Christian. Bringing together the voices of top Bible scholars, church leaders, and theological thinkers —including Marcus Borg, Diana Butler Bass, John Dominic Crossan, Brian McLaren, Helen Prejean, and John Shelby Spong— this “intro” to progressive Christianity explores theological and spiritual matters that many churches are afraid to address.
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community: Dietrich Bonhoeffer – “When I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, some words Gorky used of Tolstoy come into my mind–‘Look what a wonderful man is living on the earth.'”
How (Not) to Speak of God: Peter Rollins – In the first half of this powerful but frustratingly opaque book, debut author Rollins summarizes some of the theological ideas that the so-called emerging church is currently exploring: the importance of doubt and silence, the limits of apologetics, and the idea that God is concealed even as God is revealed.
Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Brian McLaren – McLaren uses the metaphor of great religious leaders crossing the road to converse about key matters of faith. Yet he seems to make the strongest case for fostering tolerance of other religions, while implementing Christian doctrine and maintaining Christian identity, through a single personal story.
A Generous Orthodoxy: Brian McLaren – this book will make you think. In a time when wee seem to be preaching intolerance in the name of God, McLaren’s book is a voice of reason.
Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint: Nadia Bolz-Weber – The Lutheran pastor of Denver’s House for All Sinners and Saints, takes readers on the engaging and accessible journey with those she meets in bars, church conferences, at her local diner, and through breaking news of such events as Hurricane Katrina.
Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects: Bertrand Russell, Paul Edwards – A brutal deconstruction of historic Christianity, and religion in general, that can lead the thoughtful reader to dig deeper into the Christian message and reconstruct a faith built on love and hope, not fear and control, as Russell posits.
The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event: John Caputo – “… The Weakness of God is a bold attempt to reconfigure the terms of debate around the topic of divine omnipotence. Caputo has a gift for explaining Continental philosophy’s jargon succinctly and accurately, and despite technical and foreign terms, this book will engage upper-level undergraduates. Includes scriptural and general indexes….
The God Who Risks: A Theology of Divine Providence: John Sanders – If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, can he in any way be vulnerable to his creation? Can God be in control of anything at all if he is not constantly in control of everything?
PregMANcy: A Dad, a Little Dude, and a Due Date: Christian Piatt – “Christian Piatt’s book is a bit like a baby itself: It’s surprising, funny, lovable, and just a little bit gross. The thing that makes reading Christian Piatt’s PregMANcy so enjoyable is that he just tells it like it is.”
The Year of Living Biblically: A.J. Jacobs – Make no mistake: A.J. Jacobs is not a religious man. He describes himself as Jewish “in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant.” Yet his latest work, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, is an insightful and hilarious journey for readers of all faiths.
A River Runs Through It and Other Stories: Norman McLean – “[Maclean] would go to his grave secure in the knowledge that anyone who’d fished with a fly in the Rockies and read his novella on the how and why of it believed it to be the best such manual on the art ever written–a remarkable feat for a piece of prose that also stands as a masterwork in the art of tragic writing.”