It may surprise some who know me to learn that I don’t like to read. In fact, I often fantasize about a day in which technological advances will make us able to download information directly to our brains (think Neo in the Matrix). Until then, however, I must read because I love to learn.
I love learning new information, hearing new arguments, testing current positions, going deeper into thoughtful implications, and finding and repairing my own inconsistencies. I love discovering how geniuses have already thought through what I am struggling to understand. And, above all other things I read, I love hearing the voice of God throughout the pages of holy Scripture.
My love for learning, my vocational role as a pastor and teacher, and my intentional approach to relationships with others has got me reading quite a range of books right now. Here is what I am reading now (and a few things I’ve read in the last couple of months), along with my own respective recommendations.
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
This is a great place to begin for any Christian who wants to move from “Sure, I’m a Christian…” to “I believe and follow Christ, and I’d be glad to talk with you about it.” This book systematically covers most topics of the Christian faith. If you want to know what Christians believe and why they believe it, then read this. I’m reading this book with a friend for mutual discipleship and growth.
Prayer by Timothy Keller
Every Christian knows he or she should be praying well and regularly, but many Christians feel a sense of confusion and shame regarding their current prayer-life. This book will be a great help for the new Christian and the long-time disciple. Offering deeply biblical, historically grounded, and readily applicable insights, this book will simply help you pray better. I am glad to have read this book last month as an assignment in a seminary course.
The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander
Church pastors and leaders, this book is for you! As a pastor, I read a lot about church. Several books have been a great help to me, and this is among them. Thoroughly biblical (you’ll be amazed at how many biblical citations there are) and highly practical, this book provides a fantastic blueprint for being and doing church. I am reading this book with a handful of other leaders among my congregation.
The Church by Mark Dever
A true churchman, Mark Dever is the one to whom I turn for ecclesiological theory and practice. This book is the direct and biblical argument for what the local church is and does. While some books are for practical application, this one is for solid grounding and thoughtful understanding. As a pastor or church leader, you must either align yourself with these truths or give your own reasons for rejecting them. I am reading this book right now with my staff.
The Gospel According to John (PNTC) by D.A. Carson
As a general rule, I consult between 2 and 4 commentaries as part of my preparation for preaching. I am currently preaching through the Gospel of John, and I have been thoroughly impressed by D.A. Carson’s commentary. Carson’s content is a good compilation of a wide range of scholarship in an accessible format, and it is well-presented. I highly recommend this book as a resource for preachers, theologians, and Bible students of all levels.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
I must confess that I am not greatly interested in speculative works like this. However, Lewis does a masterful job of creatively reminding Christians that we are certainly at war. Whether there is a specifically assigned devil to each person or not, the sinful obstacles to Christian growth are enumerated well here. Every Christian would benefit much from thinking through the challenge this book inevitably raises. I listened to this as an audiobook, and I finished it in three visits to the gym (it is quite short).
If you are like me, then your “to read” stack of books is probably already pretty tall. That said, I’d be glad to know if there are other books you’ve found helpful on related topics.