My Top 10 Christian Theology Books

31 10 2008

Here is a list of books I wish I had read ages ago. They have given me a good overview of the meta-narrative of the Bible and a deeper appreciation of God’s plan of salvation throughout history.
I have also come to see that a very good argument can be made for the Jesus of history being the Jesus of Faith. These books have helped tremendously.

1. Introducing the Old Testament – John Drane
If you’re anything like me you don’t spend much time reading the Old Testament. The New Testament seems a lot more interesting. Drane’s book opened my eyes to the wealth of Old Testament. He gives a fantastic overview in a thematic way. At the end of the book I got a profound sense of how impossible it is to make sense of the Bible or even Old Testament apart from Jesus Christ.
He can be a bit too influenced by the “New Perspective” debate, but still well worth it.

2. Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity – Paul Barnett
One phrase to sum this whole book up? Jesus is the engine driving Christianity. This book is so full of good truth that its impossible to sum it up. This book was a great conversation starter with random people on the bus.

3. New Testament and the People of God – N.T. Wright
If you want to understand first century Judaism look no further.
This helped me to understand th beliefs of Jews and Judaism as a whole.
While I don’t agree with all his conclusions, he is very well researched and does an excellent job.
He is one of the major proponents of the “New Perspective” debate, so be careful of swallowing this uncritically. But make sure you read it to understand the debate.

4. Preaching and Preachers – D.M. Lloyd Jones
Of all the books this one is a gem. Full of practical advice for preachers as well as your average Christian. This was a welcome break from the dense academic books I was reading.
Helped me to see how theology fits into everyday life.

5. Symphony of Scripture – Mark Strom
WOW ! If you ever wondered what the Old Testament has to do with the New Testament read this.
This is one of the best overviews of the whole Bible out there. Make sure you check the scripture references, some of them are wrong.

6. How to read the Bible for all its worth – Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart
Two words, Exegesis and Hermeneutics. Sometimes we interpret the Bible in a way it was not intended to be interpreted. This is for the scholar as well as the layman. No matter where you are in your Christian walk, this book lays out the basics of Biblical interpretation according to the type of literature it is. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve used it.

7. The Future of Justification – John Piper
Read both sides of the New Perspective Debate. Piper does a good Job at trying to unravel what NT Wright is saying. Helped me a lot. This is the way the debate should take place.

8. The Courage to Be Protestant – David F. Wells
A good survey of the evangelical landscape. I’ve been in Churches like the one’s Well’s describes.
But at times it is heavy handed and made for an uncomfortable read. Still worth checking out to understand the Seeker Sensitive and Emergent Church movements.

9. Knowing God – J.I. Packer
A classic. You can’t go without this one. A very good primer of Theology Proper.

10. Systematic Theology – Wayne Grudem
This is sytematic theology for the student, not for the Scholar who has a degree in Systematic theology. Clear concise definitions of each doctrine with scriptural support, reccomended reading for each chapter and hymns too. What more do you need. This is one of the clearest statements of the Christian Faith I have ever read.

BUT…no list is complete without a few dishonorable mentions 🙂
Here are some of the not so good and helpful books I’ve read of late.

1. Velvet Elvis / Sex God
Some of the worst post modern waffle I’ve ever read.
Bell denies Sola Scriptura, has a pelagian doctrine of sin and almost denies a biblical understanding of Hell. Need I say more?

2. Myth of a Christian Nation – Greg Boyd
Great title, great premise, but terrible on everything else. Apparently for Greg, the end justifies the means seems to be the prevailing norm. Don’t let the facts get in the way of telling a great story eh? The book is full of half truths, strawmen and blatant open-theism.

3. Reframing Paul – Mark Strom
I was very dissappointed with Strom’s book. His Symphony of Scripture book was amazing, but here he takes great offense with the Church? Somehow he let is bad experiences get the better of Him and he spends so much time saying that all evangelicals are wrong and everything needs to change. In a slightly more academic way that McLaren or Bell he makes a very radical case against Church and Systematic theology. While I felt his pain and had experienced much the same things from within the Church, this book was a let down. It was too radical and left me feeling uncomfortable.





3 responses

2 11 2008
m slater

Nice list, you’ve inspired me now.
Took a bit of a sabbatical last month, which was good, but I’m back as of today which I’m happy about.
Drane and Barnett sound quite good, I’ll need to read them when I get a chance. Interesting topics, and like you my OT resources and reading are not on par with either NT or theology.
Grudem I’ve used a lot, he was the main text for some of my systematic theology classes. I don’t always agree with his approach, but a lot of his conclusions are very well grounded, and he certainly is not afraid to blur the lines of various traditions (being Reformed, Baptist, and big on sign gifts).

Also, quick question, what is the from of Wells’ book a picture of? Its driving me crazy looking at it.

2 11 2008

Thanks for the kind words Mr Slater 🙂 The Old Testament remained a large mystery to me after reading that book by Drane. He explains things in a simple way. He’s fantastic.

As for David Wells – I have NO idea and It drove me nuts, which is possibly why I had to get rid of the book after reading it otherwise I would have wasted so much time trying to understand what the picture was. I even looked at the dust jacket trying to find out who took the photo to see if I could find them on the net. Pretty sad eh?

4 01 2010

I am in complete agreement on both “How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth” and “Myth of a Christian Nation.” Fee & Stuart I have read, taught and recommended numerous times. One of the most accessible books for the thinking layman on sound biblical hermeneutics. I found “The Myth of A Christian Nation” to be a major disappointment. It was loaned to me by a woman in my church and I finished it more out of a sense of obligation than anything else.

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