I spoke last night at Year Team. I always enjoy my time with them. I especially enjoy the Q & A at the end my my teaching time. Our conversation drifted to my reading preferences for “old dead guys” rather than contemporary authors (though, of course, I still read contemporary authors). The rationale I offered was multifaceted and includes (but is not limited to) the following:
- Their works have stood the test of time.
- Their cultural blindspots have been revealed while ours our still shrouded.
- Their presuppostions were different than ours.
- They expand our vocabulary and force us to think deeply.
They asked me what I’d recommend. Where does one start? Seriously, looking at 2000 years of Christian literature, where do you start? Any list is woefully inadequate. However, I had to start somewhere – some guideposts, some books that could form a theological framework and develop a theological vocabulary. Many of the authors below were/are prolific writers. I tried to select those books that would give a good introduction to author’s overall theology. This list is by no means exhaustive. And, I’ve left off a good many books, both old and new, that have been very influential in my reading. Below are my suggestions. You’ll note that contemporary authors receive short shrift. I’d be curious to know your thoughts.
Martin Luther’s Large and Small Catechisms
39 Articles of Religion (in the back of the Book of Common Prayer)
The Heidelberg Catechism
The Westminster Catechism
Old Dead Guys
Augustine: Confessions; The City of God
Athanasius: On the Incarnation
Martin Luther: Table Talk
John Calvin: The Institutes of Christian Religion
John Owen: The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
Richard Baxter: The Reformed Pastor
Richard Sibbes: Bruised Reed (free download with reflection questions: http://www.wearestandrews.com/userfiles/files/SAMP%20PDF%20Files/Resources/The-Bruised-Reed.pdf)
Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
George Herbert: Poems by George Herbert
John Bunyan: Pilgrim’s Progress
John Milton: Paradise Lost
Jonathan Edwards: The Freedom of the Will; The Religious Affections
J.C. Ryle: Knots Untied
Charles Spurgeon: Lectures to My Students
G.K Chesterton: Orthodoxy
C.S. Lewis: God in the Dock; Mere Christianity
John Murray: Principles of Conduct
Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Joy Unspeakable:Power and Renewal in the Holy Spirit; Puritans: Their Origins and Successors
Francis Schaeffer: The God Who Is There; How Should We Then Live?
George Eldon Ladd: The Gospel of the Kingdom; The Presence of the Future
Lesslie Newbigin: The Household of God
John Stott: Basic Christianity; The Cross of Christ
J.I. Packer: Knowing God, A Quest for Godliness
Tim Keller: The Reason for God
Michael Horton: Christless Christianity; The Gospel Driven Life
Gordon Fee: The Disease of Health and Wealth Gospels; God’s Empowering Presence; How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth
Alister McGrath: Christianity’s Dangerous Idea
John Piper: Desiring God
RC Sproul: The Holiness of God
Ravi Zacharias: Can Man Live Without God?; Beyond Opinion; Deliver Us From Evil; Jesus Among Other Gods
John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology, edited by Burk Parsons