In the beginning God spoke, and in so doing he affirmed the goodness of oral communication.
To us he revealed himself in the form of the written word, validating the goodness of written communication. Christians throughout the centuries have always had great appreciation for the written word and have understood the value of a good book.
My hope with this list is to point you to books that glorify the Lord Jesus and have been extremely useful and meaningful to me. I’m going to purposefully keep this list short, only books that I really enjoyed. I’ll add to it over time as more books have a big impact on me, but I won’t add books just because they are popular or seem like you’d find them on a list like this.
Chances are that not all of them will be your cup of tea, but that’s okay. Hopefully you’ll find something that could be useful to you.
Works of Theology
Systematic Theology is the practice of looking at all that the Bible has to say about a given topic. Among modern Systematic Theologies, Grudem’s is my go-to.
Be warned, this isn’t light reading: this is a volume that’s meant for reference, not for reading straight through (although that’s what I’ve done anyway). This book covers all the theological bases you want it to hit on and it covers them well.
The best book I have ever read on the Trinity. It’s short, but don’t let the length deceive you, it’s extremely thorough. Some material gets a little technical (there is some discussion of Greek grammar), but it remains easy to understand the whole way. I very much appreciated the fact that in addition to a thorough treatment of the Biblical passages, White also takes the time to cite writings from the early Church that relate to the doctrine of the Trinity.
My favorite chapter by far is the one dealing with John chapter one. You can really sense how much White loves the passage and wants his exposition to do it justice.
This is a companion work to Grudem’s Systematic Theology. It covers all the same topics and in the same order, except instead of pulling from passages of scripture, it surveys the annals of Christian history. It covers each doctrine from the perspective of the early church, the church in the middle ages, the reformation and post-reformation, and the modern period
The advantage of such a format is obvious: it’s one of the most effective surveys of Church history out there. You get exposed to a variety of Christian thinkers in a variety of time periods. It’s a tremendously useful volume.
One area that most Christians seem to be lacking in is a familiarity with the earliest Christian writings outside the Bible. This book can help remedy that. It features a selection of writings from the early church that includes Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Athenagerous, and Justin Martyr.
Before each letter there is a helpful introduction that gives background information about the author and the letter. The last portion of each introduction gets a bit technical as it goes into the manuscript evidence, but that can be pretty safely skipped if you’re not interested in the technical details. Overall it’s an extremely fascinating read.
It’s a shame that this great Christian thinker passed away before completing his masterpiece. This book is what remains of the notes from that eventual masterpiece. The title is the French word for “thoughts,” and that’s what these scraps of notes are, his thoughts. Some of them are short and some are longer, some are clear related and some are seemingly random. We don’t know how they would all eventually fit together, but we can all appreciate the amazing glimpse we’ve been offered into what could have been one of the great Christian works of all time. This book can be tough to read in its fragmented state, but it is well worth it.
If you’ve never read C.S. Lewis you’re in for a real treat. This book originated in the form of radio broadcasts featuring talks by Lewis before getting published. The oral origin transfers through to the written content and the book reads like a conversation. Like an extremely deep conversation with an extremely clear thinker who is a master of analogies and logic.
I don’t agree with everything he says, but I agree with most of it, and I love the way he presents his material with such forceful logic. I try to read this book once every year.
John Piper has been one of the most influential teachers for me and Desiring God is his signature book. It lays out the premise that has been the foundation for Piper’s entire teaching ministry: that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. This idea comes to be known as Christian Hedonism, not the pagan idea of seeking pleasure as the highest end, but the idea of seeking perfect satisfaction that can only be found in God ad finding unlimited pleasure and fullness of joy.
Many people think of the Christian life as one of joyless obedience. Piper makes a compelling case that nothing could be further from the truth.
Many people might question this selection, especially given all of the controversy that derailed Driscoll’s ministry in Seattle. While I think those events are important to acknowledge, I also think that a work of this caliber should get the chance to stand on it’s own merit. And the fact is that this is an outstanding book.
Few books that I have ever read are this meticulous at looking at what the Bible has to say about Jesus and why t is relevant for everyone. This book is well worth the time to read it
I’ve used a lot of study Bibles and this one bay far is my favorite and is so far the only one I feel confident in adding to this list (although I’m about to get one that I’m extremely excited about and I think has a chance of making this list one day). The book introductions are the most thorough and helpful that I’ve seen of any study Bible.
One of my favorite features is that in every book it tracks the “History of Redemption” –tracing God’s working to redeem his people throughout the storyline of the Bible. I still keep mine in the box it came in. This is a book I want to keep nice for a long time. The hardcover is cheaper, but the leather and TruTone versions are more beautiful.
Bible Reading Plans
Without a doubt my favorite Bible plan is the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan from the Navigators. Divided into four sections, this plan ensures that each day you will have one reading from the gospels, one from the Old Testament history books, one from the Old Testament Wisdom literature (think Psalms, Proverbs, etc), and one from the rest of the New Testament (Acts, Revelation, and the Epistles). It also has just 25 readings each month, meaning there are days at the end of the month that you can use to revisit favorite passages or catch up if you are behind.
Out of the 12 times that I’ve read the Bible in a year, I chose this plan for nine of them.