People often ask me which books I’ve been most influenced or inspired by over the last few years of my Deconstruction journey. Here are the Top 10 books that I recommend and refer to and share with my friends most often:
10) Her Gates Will Never Be Shut by Brad Jersak – This book had me in tears on a public train. So beautifully well-written and researched. It’s the book that helped me move from Annihilationism to unapologetic Universal Reconciliation, simply because it helped me realize that God really WAS even better than I could have hoped, or dreamed or imagined.
9) Let Go by Fenelon – I have given away more copies of this book than anything else I’ve ever read. The copy I have on my shelf now will no doubt end up in someone else’s bookshelf one day and I’ll have to buy another copy….again. This little book really helped me realize that our connection with God through Christ was more practical and normal than I ever thought. It also contains my favorite quote: “If you stopped learning now you wouldn’t live long enough to put into practice all that you already know of Christ.” Boom.
8) Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola – This book. Wow. The footnotes alone could be their own book. It’s so well-researched [maybe even “over-researched”] that it nearly made me give up publishing my book on the early Christian form of Ekklesia I was working on at the time. I know a lot of people who have been totally flabbergasted by the numerous realizations in this book about all the ways our modern Church has been shaped by Pagan sources, traditions, frameworks, and practices. Prepare to be blown out of your pew. Seriously.
7) I See Satan Fall Like Lightning by Rene Girard – When I first heard about Girard and his theories I thought they sounded stupid. Honestly, what could I learn from a French Literature professor about Christian theology? Well, turns out I had a LOT to learn. In fact, once I read his book and considered his insights for myself I realized that he had truly discovered something profound and connected some dots between the Old and New Covenant scriptures that I had never noticed before…and honestly could have never noticed without his ideas. Thank you brother Girard for this masterful work.
6) Who Wrote The Bible? by Richard Elliot Friedman – Trust me, this book will bake your noodle. If you think you know who wrote the Old Testament Scriptures I can assure you this book will throw some serious doubt into your assumptions. Written with all the skill of an expert mystery writer, this book will have you staying up late and turning page after page until the question is finally resolved, and when you get there it will make so much sense and resolve so many of your questions about all those inconsistencies in the Old Testament you’re not supposed to notice…but you notice anyway.
5) Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard – I was fortunate in my lifetime to have interviewed Dallas twice before he died. By the time I read this book I was already fully on board with his premise – that the Gospel is NOT about saying a prayer so you can go to Heaven when you die. For many, this book is just a bit too challenging to understand…mostly because they can’t overcome the programming they’ve received by the Church about how the Gospel is an Atonement Theory [it’s not]. For those who can approach Jesus and the Gospels with fresh eyes, the reward is nothing less than the Kingdom of God.
4) Early Christians In Their Own Words by Eberhardt Arnold – Few books have moved me or inspired me like this one. Composed almost entirely of quotes from various early Christian theologians, the book is broken down into sections so you can really see what those men believed about Jesus, loving enemies, serving in the military or holding government office, and much more. Prepare to be humbled, broken-hearted and deeply moved by the fierce, childlike faith of these [mostly] wonderful saints.
3) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Yes, this is a science fiction book, but it’s also a book about beauty, freedom of thought, creativity, and yes, even faith. Every single time I re-read this book it takes my breath away and surprises me. We are so close to living in this sort of world and I’m grateful this book exists to remind us of the kind of society we don’t want to live in.
2) 1984 by George Orwell – As with the previous book, this masterpiece of speculative fiction provides both a warning and a mirror to us of both who we are becoming and who we already are…in ways we may not feel very comfortable admitting. Worth reading and re-reading often.
1) The Self-Aware Universe by Amit Goswami – If there’s a book that has connected the dots for me in ways I could have never imagined it is this one. The astounding and perplexing discoveries within Quantum Science over the last 20 years have seriously challenged what we thought we knew about our Universe and reality itself. I underlined and highlighted so many passages in this book but the one that really took my breath away was the section where the author explained how scientists and philosophers had long debated the question: “Why does consciousness arise from matter?” only to realize – based on the brain-twisting observation of photons and electrons at the molecular level – that they were asking the wrong question all along. Instead, they should have been asking, “Why does matter arise from consciousness?” and that made me stop and write in the margins: “In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God…”
Of course, there are SO MANY other great books out there. I could easily expand my list to the Top 20 or Top 50, but for now this list will do the trick.
What are the books you’d include on your list? Anything I missed? Agree or disagree with these choices? I’d love to hear your comments below.
DID YOU KNOW? The Old Testament never once mentions Eternal Torment? So, where did it come from? This 3-week online course – Jesus Undefeated – is designed to answer all your questions about Hell and covers all 3 historically Christian views: Annihilation, Eternal Torment and Universal Reconciliation. Class starts Monday, July 5, 2021. REGISTER HERE>
Keith Giles and his wife, Wendy, work with Peace Catalyst International to help build relationships between Christians and Muslims in El Paso, TX. Keith was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church over a decade ago to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today he is the author of the best-selling “Jesus Un” series of books, including “Jesus Unforsaken: Substituting Divine Wrath With Unrelenting Love” which is available now on Amazon.