The top 20 books that have most influenced me…

So Ben Myers has posted a top 20 list of the books that have most influenced him… so I thought I’d come up with my list of top 20 most influential books. I am going to exclude the bible from the top 20, not because it hasn’t influenced me but rather because it’s in a whole different category

  1. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics – IV/1-2 (These two books completely shattered my world during my first two years of seminary as they opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking theologically)
  2. Tony Jones, Postmodern Youth Ministry (The best book on Youth Ministry as it doesn’t offer a model, but rather things to think about as one does ministry)
  3. Andrew Purves and Charles Partee, Encountering God (I’ve only read it once but given that I took a total of 10 classes in seminary from the authors their thoughts have shaped how I think)
  4. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics III/4 (While not as influential as IV/1-2 this volume on ethics helped me understand how ethics can be intensely situational yet rooted in the command of God. It also reinforced my belief that in ministry its more important to teach people how to think, rather than what to think)
  5. Andrew Purves, Reconstructing Pastoral Theology (I took the man for six courses… need I say more?)
  6. John Franke and Stanley Grenz, Beyond Foundationalism (I read this book during my last year of seminary and I finally felt that I had found my place in the theological spectrum. This book also helped me understand how eschatology integrated into the day to day life of the church as the “orienting principle” for the church’s mission)
  7. John Franke, The Character of Theology (Similar to the book above, this prequel of sorts helped me get a grasp on how to think about the theological task in a postmodern world)
  8. Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God
  9. Jurgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom
  10. Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope (I didn’t discover Moltmann until late in my seminary career, but two of the professors who I learned the most from in seminary were shaped by him. While often at odds with Barth, I found him challenging and enjoyed the fact that he stretched me to think of categories in different ways)
  11. NT Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (I’m actually in the midst of reading this one, but while I was in seminary and dating Renee long distance I used to spend hours in my car driving back and forth. NT Wright has more free audio available online than anyone else I know so I used to listen to his lectures off of my iPod. Wright helped me get inside the bible the world of the bible and to better understand Jesus’ intensely political message without simply collapsing it into either left wing socialism or right wing moralism)
  12. Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace (I read this book at the end of my time in college and while now I probably wouldn’t get much out of it, I remember really be challenged and yet refreshed by the concept of the discipline of living in grace)
  13. Doug Fields, Purpose Driven Youth Ministry (I’ve read this book twice – first while I was just out of college and again while I was in seminary. While Doug and I aren’t on the same page on everything, it’s given me a helpful way to think about ministry
  14. Athanasius, Against the Arians (I haven’t read the whole thing, but read significant parts for classes and papers. Really shaped my understand of the atonement as Christ’s whole life, not just his death)
  15. Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be (I only read a short except from this book, but it’s a phrase that I’ve found so apt at describing the world that it’s become a hallmark in nearly every sermon I preach or lesson I teach)
  16. T.F. Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God (I feel bad putting Torrance down this low on the list because he should be higher, but alas. This book was my first serious attempt at working through the Doctrine of the Trinity)
  17. John Calvin, Institues of the Christian Religion (Ditto for Calvin, he shouldn’t be down this low. Once I left seminary I realized how much his understanding of the church and it’s sacraments had shaped my own)
  18. David Bosch, Transforming Mission (Read this book for Missiology and am still being challenged by it)
  19. Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (This book should be required for every person planning to do ministry in at least the United States)
  20. Brian McLaren, Generous Orthodoxy (McLaren, like Wright, has shaped me more through his lectures that I’ve listened to than his writing, but I read this book in the midst of seminary and came to a greater understanding of how he thought

Honorable Mention:

  • Stanley Grez, A Primer on Postmodernism
  • Alister McGrath, Scientific Theology
  • Dan Kimball, Emerging Worship
  • The Book of Confessions of the PC(USA) – Particularly The Barmen Declaration and The Confession of 1967

So there you have it. The numbering isn’t really right – Bosch and Newbigin would definitely be higher on the list. But, what this list proves is that I’m (1) A total dork (2) Shaped heavily by the Post-Conservative/Neo-Orthodox Reformed tradition

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  1. November 3, 2006 at 7:03 am

    I am going to exclude the bible from the top 20, not because it hasn’t influenced me but rather because it’s in a whole different category
    What category(ies) would you put the Bible in?

  1. November 30, 2006 at 9:32 am

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