Many, many years ago I published a suggested reading list that varies significantly from the one I am posting here, reflecting a fairly significant change in thinking. In fact, I think I may have thrown out some of the books on that prior list. Looking back long-term, it appears that the change in thinking is what is called a “correction” in economic terms, as I find myself back on a previously-established trajectory.
I have included only five classic works here (and one’s a “borderline” classic). These are, for me, key works which represent a much larger collection of great writing by some of these authors. Some well-loved classic works are excluded on purpose.
The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis — You may be surprised that I’ve included Lewis’ The Great Divorce rather than Mere Christianity. I think MC is great, but I include TGD as it’s had a greater impact on me. I reread it often.
Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton — Another great little book on the essentials of Christianity, worth rereading often.
On Christian Freedom, Martin Luther — This was a very short pamphlet written by Luther in 1520, shortly after his first commentary on Galatians, and before his rift with the Roman Catholic Church. It is actually dedicated to Pope Leo X. It is found under a few varied titles, such as On Christian Liberty, Concerning Christian Freedom, and so on.
The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis — This is the only such work on my list. The Imitation of Christ was probably the most influential book I ever read in that it shook my from my western ego-centric way of thinking.
The Physical Side of Being Spiritual, Peter Gillquist — Out of print, but used copies can be found. Gillquist challenges the contemporary views of sacramental Christianity. This was published in 1979, so it’s the most recent “classic” on the list.
The Gospel Uncensored, Ken Blue & Alden Swan — Putting this at the top of my contemporary list is not a marketing ploy. I’ve been reading through it again, and honestly believe that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read on the Christian life. There’s a very good reason why I took Ken’s sermons and turned them into book form.
God’s Grace Apart From Law, Mick Mooney — This book does for the first 3 chapters of Romans what Ken and I did in our book. Once you grasp the “big picture” of what Paul is doing in Romans, you read it completely differently.
Good News for Anxious Christians, Phillip Cary — This book challenges many of the common attitudes held by the evangelical church today which do nothing but serve as a distraction and often cause a feeling of inadequacy among Christians, hence the title.
Unconditional?, Brian Zahnd — This is a great little book on the importance of forgiving others unconditionally, a concept that seems to have been lost, or at least downsized, in contemporary evangelicalism.
The Divine Embrace, Robert Webber — Anyone who has an interest in being “spiritual” should read this book. Webber traces the drift in the church’s perception of spirituality and, as is his forte, he connects the ancient and the contemporary.
Simply Christian, N.T. Wright — Sometimes you just have to go back to the basics and get a fresh view of Christianity, from a non-theological perspective.
The Challenge of Jesus, N.T. Wright — If you want to rid yourself of the imaginary Jesuses that we create to conform Christianity to our own perspective, Wright challenges us to take a look at the real historical Jesus.
The Open Secret: A New Vision For Natural Theology, Alister E. McGrath — A little more theological than the others on the list (and a lot more expensive), McGrath does not claim that one can prove God’s existence from nature, but rather, that God is evident in the natural world for those who seek Him.
Anything by Peter Enns and Nadia Bolz-Weber.