The 10 Most Influential Books for Reformed Evangelicals

Kevin DeYoung put out a call recently for comments on what books have most influenced his readers. After 326 comments, he’s compiled a list of their 10 Most Influential Books. And, since his readership comprises mostly the Young, Restless, and Reformed crowd, it provides an interesting snapshot into which books are influencing this group. (DeYoung recognizes that this is far from a definitive list. But it’s interesting nonetheless.)

  1. John Piper, Desiring God
  2. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology
  3. J.I. Packer, Knowing God
  4. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
  5. John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life
  6. R.C. Sproul, Holiness of God
  7. Jerry Bridges, Disciplines of Grace
  8. C.J. Mahaney, Cross-Centered Life
  9. Mark Driscoll and Gary Breshears, Doctrine
  10. (tie). R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God; John Piper, God is the Gospel; Joshua Harris, Dug Down Deep; Francis Chan, Crazy Love; David Platt, Radical

No real surprise to see John Piper, J.I. Packer, and R.C. Sproul well represented. And, it was nice to see that C.S. Lewis is still on the table despite the fact that he comes from a rather different perspective on quite a few issues. But, I was a bit surprised to see Doctrine by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Bresehars on the list since it really hasn’t been out all that long.

Of these books, the only ones that have really been all that influential for me are (in order) Lewis’ Mere Christianity, Packer’s Knowing God, and Piper’s Desiring God, which I read as a seminary student and was (I think) the first Piper book I ever read. I’ve read most of the others, but none of them have really left their mark in the same way.

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on January 26, 2011, in Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. I think Lewis is the only one I read on that whole list.

    • You should at least read Packer.

      • yeah, Packer’s knowing God is actually pretty good – though if I know Brian well enough, he’ll have plenty to quibble with! lol!

        I want to check out Chan’s book on the Holy Spirit (but Reformed folk are always into that, thus it’s not on the list) and I have had interest in checking out C.J.’s book on the cross centered life but not sure yet as, well, what about the resurrection centered life? know what I mean?

        Interesting list.

  2. I think this list is accurate, and telling. Those who identify themselves as “Reformed” are much more concerned with Theology (proper) than Biblical Studies (as a discipline).

    In other words, they’d rather read about the Bible, or what others say about what people have said about the Bible, than the Bible.

    I’d think it should at least get a mention – HOLY BIBLE

  3. Thankfully in the UK, and this includes those down under.. our list would be somewhat different I think, certainly Lewis and Packer, but some others also. 🙂

  4. I’m surprised that no books from Mark Dever or Al Mohler made the list.

  5. In an effort to not simply be labeled a pgroach groupie, I’ll throw my two cents in here.

    I consider myself reformed, and I consider myself evangelical I guess, though that term begins to mean less and less to me, but I would not consider myself nearly in the same camp as that of Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, or Mark Driscoll (that’s right, I just lumped all of them together, I hope Pat doesn’t call me on it).

    Interestingly (correspondingly?) I’ve only read 3 or so of the above books, and I don’t think any of them would make my “Top 10 most influential” list.

    Perhaps I’m the odd-man out here, but (and steer me clear here Pat if I’m wrong) I think referring to this group as simply “Reformed Evangelicals” may be somewhat of a misnomer considering most of them are neo-Calvinist Baptists.

    Don’t misunderstand my tone, I’m not in any way being snide toward their theology or creed. I’m simply suggesting what Pat already alluded to: the Young, Restless, Reformed crowd is a rather narrow closet of the larger Reformed house and I’m wondering what a “top ten” list would be for folks that are more, shall I say, historically-rooted Reformed.

    Or, Marc, you could just re-title your post (something like “Top 10 Most Influential Books Read by People Who Like Kevin DeYoung” ought to do the trick), and I’ll go away happy.

    • Oh, come now Steve, I know all about the poster of Pat you have hanging on your bedroom wall. I hear it’s next to your Justin Bieber photos.

      You’re definitely right that the list has a much narrower focus than the title of the posts suggests, which DeYoung acknowledged. So, it certainly provides more insight into the reading habits of that crowd than the Reformed as a whole. And, to be fair, he did not that quite a number of more historic figures were also mentioned prominently; they just didn’t get as many votes as these more recent (and more accessible?) works did.

      • I was surprised initially that Keller was not mentioned, either. But he doesn’t make much out of being Reformed – he isn’t ashamed – it just doesn’t fit into his particular project like it does for many of the other guys on that list.

        DeYoung is maybe a bit different than Driscoll and Piper, if only because he is in a mainline denomination (RCA), though along with those others he probably fits into Marsden’s taxonomy of Reformed as “pietist” (the other two classes being “doctrinalist” and “culturalists.”) YRR is a “pietist” movement, at the end of the day.

        And Hall does NOT have a poster of me – just a tasteful wallet sized pic he carries around and occasionally pulls out for inspiration when taking tests!:-)

      • That’s an interesting thought about Keller. But now that you point it out, I think you’re right that he doesn’t wear his Reformed identity on his sleeve like maybe a few other Reformed leaders do (as well as people from other traditions, of course). But, he’s still such an influence on this crowd, that I would have expected his name to come up.

        I also hadn’t considered applying Marsden’s taxonomy specifically to the YRR group, but that seems like a good description and may explain its attraction to Baptists (and others) who aren’t Reformed in the ecclesiastical or creedal sense of the term.

  6. Interesting list. I’ve read, of course, Lewis; Packer; Piper; Sproul; Grudem. Yikes, that almost scares me 😉 . . . that’s just too many of these DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed authors.

    Lewis almost seems out of place, I guess (per Steve’s point), this just illustrates that this is not a list from the Westminster Theological Seminary crowd — the “real” Reformed 🙂 .

  7. You might find the following blogs of interest about C.J. Mahaney and the group he leads, Sovereign Grace Ministries:

    http://www.sgmsurvivors.com
    http://www.sgmrefuge.com

    They tell another side.

    Hope this helps.

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