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.)
- John Piper, Desiring God
- Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology
- J.I. Packer, Knowing God
- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
- John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life
- R.C. Sproul, Holiness of God
- Jerry Bridges, Disciplines of Grace
- C.J. Mahaney, Cross-Centered Life
- Mark Driscoll and Gary Breshears, Doctrine
- (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.
Writing tip of the day: on using big words
Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
……………………………………~C. S. Lewis
Flotsam and jetsam (1/6)
I actually had work to do today, so I’m a little slow in getting this out. Nonetheless, here are some interesting links for your web browsing pleasure.
For believers…the most decisive turning point was the year 33, when a Jewish rabbi—the Messiah—was raised from the dead in Roman-occupied Palestine….This turning-point is not only celebrated but is deepened and widened in its effects every Lord’s Day. Wherever this gospel is taken, a piece of heaven—the age to come—begins even now to dawn in the dusty corners of this passing evil age.
- Sarah Flashing discusses the problem of Tradition without Truth.
While shame and remorse can be an appropriate motivating factor to correct ways of thinking and living, in the wrong hands it is often misused. Stigma unaccompanied by truth is merely an apparatus of a culture not oriented toward Christ, no matter how much they may resemble the Church.
- Brian LePort offers five excellent reasons why he reads C.S. Lewis.
All this being said, no, you do not have to read Lewis to be a thinking Christian. No, Lewis does not answer every question. No, Lewis is not the greatest theologian of the twentieth century. But I personally have found Lewis to be a worthy dialogue partner and someone who anyone can access, great or small, theologian or lay person. You don’t have to read Lewis, but you won’t go wrong in doing so either.
- Scot McKnight responds to Gerald Hiestand’s argument that we need more pastor theologians.
Give us some examples of university theology that has no ecclesial value or some ecclesial theology that reveals how this can be done better by pastors. I’m ready to be convinced but I want to see what is actually involved here.
- Corey Angst discusses how uses of the iPad are evolving and becoming increasingly effective in higher education.
- Stuart links to a tool on finding your Bible birth verse. (Mine was Mt. 27:5.)
- And, here’s a list of 10 essential nerd foods.
Flotsam and jetsam (12/1)
- Adam McHugh argues the need for A Counter-Cultural Quiet in Advent.
In our world, quiet is counter-cultural. I’m not only referring to quiet on the outside, but also quiet on the inside. In fact, it may be easier to shut out the external voices than it is to silence the internal noise. It’s often those inner voices, especially the unacknowledged ones, that compel us to fill our lives with movement and agendas and spending and eating. Our behaviors and hurry are echoes of our inner doubts about our worth. Sadly, in many ways the nature of our holiday celebrations reveal how incompletely we have embraced the actual message of Christmas.
- iMonk reflects on Living in the In-Between.
It can be frustrating living in-between. Any blessing, sustenance, attainment, contentment, or security we latch on to now is imperfect, incomplete, and temporary. That’s not to say we can’t enjoy the crumbs we taste now, it’s just to look at them honestly and identify them for the crumbs they are. And when we or others around us don’t even get to enjoy many crumbs at times, it casts a shadow on the whole enterprise.
- Brian McLaren discusses how to plan a preaching ministry around the “lifespan” of your congregation. HT
- Christianity Today wants to know if we should ban Christmas carols with bad theology.
- Koinonia is giving away a copy of Harry Lee Poe’s The Inklings of Oxford. The NLT blog is offering a chance to win two NLT study Bibles and some money for a ministry you nominate (HT).
- You can now download for free the audio and video from D.A. Carson’s 14-part series on The God Who Is There, an overview of the Bible’s storyline.
- And, Google’s new online bookstore should be opening soon. Whether it will be the Amazon-killer that people have suggested it could be, has yet to be seen.
Google Editions will have a significantly different sales model from most competitors, such as Amazon’s Kindle store or Apple’s iBookStore. Instead of purchasing books through a single online store, Google will let users buy them either from Google or from independent bookstores and then tie them to a Google account, which will enable them to read the books anywhere and on any device they please.
Roundtable discussion of C.S. Lewis
In this video, Alan Jacobs (The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis), Douglas Wilson (What I Learned in Narnia) and N. D. Wilson discuss C. S. Lewis’s writings, creativity, imagination, and the way that these relate to and express his worldview. It’s over an hour long, and I haven’t had time to watch more than a few minutes. But, it looks very interesting and should be worth your while if you have an hour or so to spare.
What would your church history family reunion look like?
If your family was made up of famous people from church history, what would your family reunion look like? For a recent church history project, one of my students used the metaphor of a family to explain what he thought about various figures in church history. He gave me permission to pass it along, so here’s what he came up with:
- The family members he gets along with the best: Jerome, Wycliffe, Susanna Wesley, Finney, Spurgeon, Chesterton, William Seymour, Dostoyevsky, Jim Elliot, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Family members that just rub him the wrong way: John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards
- Family members that he just flat doesn’t like: The Crusaders
- The embarrassing uncle of the family: the snake-handling preacher
I liked the idea, so I thought I’d put together my own family:
- Parents (formative early, even if we may not get along now): C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Frank Peretti, Charles Sheldon
- Wise uncles (mentored me as I got older): Augustine, Maximus, Luther, Calvin, Dostoyevsky, Barth
- Weird uncles (part of the family, but embarrassing): televangelists (e.g. Jim and Tammy Faye Baker), many Christian “artists” (e.g., Kinkade), TBN
- Siblings (closely related, but we fight a lot): Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, John MacArthur
- Cousins (related to me, but I don’t know them very well): Isaac Backus, Walter Rauschenbusch, A.H. Strong,
- Bob (that one family member you wish would stop coming to the reunions): Joel Osteen
And, if that’s my family, I can only imagine what the family reunion would look like:
C.S. Lewis and Tolkien are outside smoking their pipes and drinking a couple of beers. Peretti is standing a few yards away, desperately wanting to join in but afraid that they’ll make fun of his books again. Augustine is out back sneaking peaches from the peach tree. Meanwhile, Luther is busy spiking the bunch bowl to see if he can get the folks from TBN drunk, and Thomas Kinkade is waiting for him to finish because he’s thirsty again. Barth’s off in the corner discussing socialism with Sheldon and Rauschenbusch, while trying to explain the inadequacies of the social Gospel. Osteen’s there too, nodding his head regularly, though he has no idea what they’re talking about. Warren, Driscoll, and MacArthur tried to ignore each other for a while, but accidentally ended up going for food at the same time. Now they’re standing around the food table having a loud argument about whether it’s okay to put mustard on hot dogs. In a little while, they’ll probably end up wrestling on the floor and knocking several lamps over. Isaac Backus and A.H. Strong are sitting on the couch listened in horrified fascination as Jim and Tammy Faye Baker tearfully explain why God really wanted them to have all that money for their ministry. And, Maximus and Dostoyevsky are watching the whole thing from the kitchen while having the most fascinating discussion about what all of this means for understanding human nature.
One of the things that I appreciated about this whole exercise was the reminder that we are all part of the same family (though I’m pretty sure Osteen is actually an alien impostor switched at birth with a real family member). Although we might be distantly related in places, we certainly don’t get along all the time, and I may not have gotten to know all of them very well yet, we’re still part of the same, big, messy, obnoxious, often embarrassing family – united to the same Christ, empowered by the same Spirit, glorifying the same Father.
I won’t try to turn this into a meme, but I would be curious to know about your family. Feel free to comment on what your family looks like. Or, if you choose to blog about it, drop us a link so we can follow along.
Flotsam and jetsam (vacation edition)
Wifi is a wonderful invention. I’m sitting in a nice, secluded cabin on Lummi island. Woke up to a rooster crowing on a nearby farm and spent the last couple of hours reading, drinking coffee, and enjoying a cold, misty morning. I just got caught up with my blog reading, and thought I’d go ahead and pass some links along. To keep the list manageable after a few days off, I’m just going to highlight the more interesting ones, and I’ll keep the comments to a minimum.
- Anne Rice has been interviewed by NPR on her recent decision to leave the Catholic church.
- NT Wright has a great article on C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity – explaining both what he appreciates about the book and what he dislikes. (HT Mike Bird)
- Here’s a debate between Richard Gaffin and Wayne Grudem on the nature of prophecy today. (HT Tim Challies)
- Jim West discusses theological exegesis.
- NYT has an article on pastoral burnout.
- Paul Helm has posted the fourth part of his review of Kevin Vanhoozer’s Remythologizing Theology.
- Jim West carried through on his promise to revive the Biblical Studies Carnival.
- Patheos has begun a discussion on the future of evangelicalism. The series began with the topic of “transforming the church” and posts from Scot McKnight, Collin Hansen, Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor, Ed Stetzer, Matthew Anderson, Al Hsu. Next up: “transforming the culture”
- iMonk disucsses Rachel Evans’ open letter to Ken Ham.
- And, Jonathan Acuff discusses why Christians sometimes act like jerks online. (HT Colin Hansen)
Writing tips from C.S. Lewis
ChristianWritingToday offers another list of suggestions for improving your writing, this time from C. S. Lewis. Here are the eight tips with some of my own thoughts. Read the original post for some other good comments.
- Turn off the radio. I’m not as convinced on this one. I do some of my most creative writing when I have the right kind of music playing in the background. There’s something about good music that helps set the stage for me.
- Read good books and avoid most magazines. I wonder what C.S. Lewis would have said about blogs?
- Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good. If you’re writing for primarily academic purposes, be careful with this one. You can spend way too much time trying to make everything sound just right. But, once you start writing for a broader audience, this becomes far more important.
- Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won’t ever be a writer.
- Be clear. Remember that readers can’t know your mind. Don’t forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.
- Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later. This will also make you feel better as you go through the editing process. It’s hard to delete something that you worked so hard on, so tell yourself that you’re saving it for later. You probably won’t actually use it, but you’ll be much happier.
- You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere. I like the sound of a typewriter.
- Know the meaning of every word you use. Pay close attention to this one. There’s a tendency in academic writing to use all the latest “jargon” without a clear understanding of what terms mean. Please don’t.
(HT Tim Challies)