Thursday, March 29, 2007
Top Thirteen Countdown
“People and movements can be defined by the books they read and remember. The time it takes to read and digest a book requires us to engage someone else's ideas with more seriousness than almost any other activity. So it is with some trepidation that we present this list.” With this opening statment, the editors at Christianity Today plunged boldly into their October 2006 article, “The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals.”
They asked scores of evangelical leaders to submit their nominations for landmark titles that have been published since WWII. As a staff, CT vigorously debated and then ranked the Top 50 books that have not merely entertained, but have shaped American evangelicalism as it is today. Following are the very best of their consensus; the Top 13 books that have changed the way we think, talk, witness, worship and live.
13. Evidence That Demands A Verdict
Who says faith is only for the heart and not the head? Not Josh McDowell.
12. Power Evangelism
John Wimber with Kevin Springer
Lifestyle evangelism is great, but signs and wonders are spectacular.
11. Celebration of Discipline
Richard J. Foster
It "opened the door for many evangelicals to intentionally practice spiritual disciplines and find a connection with the church throughout history," writes Phyllis Alsdurf, professor of journalism at Bethel College.
10. Evangelism Explosion
D. James Kennedy
This more than any other book ("The Four Spiritual Laws" is a pamphlet) gave evangelicals a systematic way to share their faith. It made the question, "If you were to die tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?" standard evangelistic fare.
9. Through Gates of Splendor
The account of the martyrdom of five young missionaries at the hands of a feared "Stone Age" tribe in Ecuador helped launch a generation of cross-cultural evangelists into the world's hard places…
8. Managing Your Time
Ted W. Engstrom
Evangelicals have historically been entrepreneurs and mystics, so we have run into much personal burnout and organizational chaos. With this book, Ted W. Engstrom gave evangelical leaders permission to organize their ministries rationally and efficiently.
7. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger
Ronald J. Sider
“God is on the side of the poor!" Sider writes. To neglect them is to neglect the gospel.
6. The Living Bible
One of the first in a wave of easy-to-read, modern English versions of the Bible, Kenneth N. Taylor's Living Bible came out in 1971, complete with its signature green cover. Book design has come a long way since then.
5. Knowing God
J. I. Packer
Packer was magisterial in substance, but adopted the tone of a fellow traveler. He convinced us that the study of God "is the most practical project anyone can engage in."
4. The God Who Is There
“This book, and its companion volumes, accomplished something startling and necessary: It made intellectual history a vital part of the evangelical mental landscape, opening up the worlds particularly of art and philosophy to a subculture that was suspicious and ignorant of both," writes John Stackhouse, professor of theology and culture at Regent College.
3. Mere Christianity
C. S. Lewis
Anyone who has read this far into the list doesn't need any explanation about why Lewis's work of apologetics placed this high—right?
2. Understanding Church Growth
Donald Anderson McGavran
Although evangelicals have always been enamored with large and growing numbers (e.g., the Great Awakenings), it was Donald McGavran who gave us phrases such as "church growth" and "the homogeneous unit principle" and who made the endeavor a "science." Today, every pastor in North America has a decided opinion about whether or how much he or she buys into church-growth principles.
1. Prayer: Conversing With God
In the 1950s, evangelical prayer was characterized by Elizabethan wouldsts and shouldsts. Prayer meetings were often little more than a series of formal prayer speeches. Then Rosalind Rinker taught us something revolutionary: Prayer is a conversation with God. The idea took hold, sometimes too much (e.g., "Lord, we just really wanna …"). But today evangelicals assume that casual, colloquial, intimate prayer is the most authentic way to pray.
This excerpt is quoted from "The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals" by the editors of Christianity Today. The rest of the list will provide you with plenty of classic reading material. Numbers 14 - 50 include such memorable titles as Basic Christianity (Stott), The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer), A Wrinkle In Time (L’Engle), Boundaries (Cloud & Townsend), Desiring God (Piper) and Christy (Marshall). This list would be a great jumping off place to begin a library of outstanding Christian classics.
Good Eats. Great Reads.
Hungry enough to commit yourself to eating through a crisp and delicious bunch of aforementioned papyrus leaves? Help has arrived! All you need to do is join the (200 or so) good folks at Callapidder Days for Katrina’s Spring Reading Challenge.
No pressure, it's just for fun, prizes, and for the love of reading. I’m an amazon.com used-book lover, so I’ve decided to chew through at least six of the thirteen books which are wilting woefully on my nightstand. (Listed below.) Then I'll begin nibbling my way through the unread classics featured above.
My Thirteen Spring Books
1. Adventures in Missing the Point by McLaren & Campolo
2. A Heart Like His by Beth Moore
3. Authentic Faith by Gary Thomas
4. Becoming Conversant With The Emerging Church
by D. A. Carson
5. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
6. The Creative Call by Elsheimer
7. Cure For the Common Life by Max Lucado
8. Generation Next Parenting by Tricia Goyer
9. Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
10. Practicing His Presence by Lawrence & Lauback
11. Solomon’s Song of Love by Dr. Craig Gluchman
12. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark Noll
13. Visual Faith by William Dyrness
If you're interested, you can join the cool group of bloggers over at Thursday Thirteen's official meme hub.
What book(s) are you reading now? Would you recommend them?
Photo Credits: Robem (Flickr) & Christianbook.com