Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Faith Renewing Books

I've often made a point of how great books have been for me. On another blog I was mentioning how authors have consistently renewed my faith. I thought I'd mention the best of them here.

However, as I think about it I realize how subjective this kind of thing is. What encourages me might not resonate with anyone else. Well, it might, but it really will have to hit them at the right time won't it? A lot of what makes something refreshing or inspiring has to do with what kind of questions/fears/doubts we happen to be wrestling with at the time. I think the point is to keep at it.

Another thing I thought about while compiling this pile of books was how often I need my faith revived! It is kind of pathetic I suppose. I'm beginning to realize that all my reading has very little to do with my intelligence or my faith, but with my fickleness and my doubt. I am in constant need of help from those wiser than I because I am constantly questioning everything. Thankfully there is plenty out there. For what its worth, here is a quick list of the books that have renewed my faith.

Worship, Communion, and the Triune God of Grace - James Torrance
I forgot to include this one in the above photo. Perhaps not the best of the books I've read recently but it is the most succinct and accessible treatment of what has become for me a blossoming way of looking again at what it means to be a Christian.
Contemplating the Cross - Tricia McCary Rhodes
This book helped me learn to meditate and more importantly to plumb the depths of Jesus' passion. (Putting Gibson's movie to shame by the way)
Partly Right - Tony Campolo
I haven't read anything else by this guy, but this book helped me to hear and learn from voices outside the church while remaining within it, veracity of the faith affirmed.
Why Believe? - Stephen Evans
A straightforward, respectful and compelling case for the Christian faith drawing from a variety of reasonings but not dependent on any one.
Reasonable Faith - William Craig
A way more complex and comprehensive argument for the faith, but very helpful in articulating and then wrapping my mind around all the issues involved. It doesn't prove Christianity, but shows it to hold water quite well I think.
The Man Who Was Thursday - GK Chesterton
This novel resonated with me deeply and brought me to the end of myself to the Rest of God.
The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoevsky
Nothing specific came from this book. I just feel like it made me understand myself, and human nature, and the plight of the world before God.
Orthodoxy - GK Chesterton
Christianity shows itself not as true about this thing or that, but as a truth-telling thing.
Velvit Elvis - Rob Bell
This impacted others more than me, but it spoke directly to a real tension that exists today in Christianity and made me realize I wasn't the only one feeling it and that it might actually lead to some very good things.
Rumours of Another World - Philip Yancey
This book amazed me, every chapter. Spoke to a variety of things, from faith to sex, and just kept pointing to the guiding sense of wonder within it all. This is a highly underrated book.
Resident Aliens - Hauerwas and Willimon
These authors come from a different stream of Christianity than mine, and thus they greatly challenged me and opened my eyes to other ways of looking at the same faith. I am still grappling with their vision of the church as a confessing people. I must have turned to this book every couple weeks when I was preparing sermons, and it really impacted my approach.
True Spirituality - Francis Schaeffer
Pretty old school, but dealt with the ramifications of Jesus' death and resurrection in a way that was hugely important in maturing my faith.
In the Name of Jesus - Henri Nouwen
One afternoon I read it, wept, turned to the beginning and read it again. Changed (hopefully forever) my view of leadership, church, and being a Christ-follower.
Mere Christianity - CS Lewis
Has enough been said about this book? For good reason.
Searching for God Knows What - Donald Miller
Very engaging and personable author. A moving and current take on the problem of sin and the journey of redemption.
Soul Survivor - Philip Yancey
If my list of authors isn't helpful, the chapters in this book introduce about a dozen more. Opened up several new vistas for me, some I have yet to fully explore.
Beyond Foundationalism - Grenz and Franke
Just when I thought there was nothing new in theology this book blew the lid off of all the stuffy systematics and charted a new and faithful path for Christian thinking in a new world. I needed that.
The Great Divorce - CS Lewis
Makes you realize your sense of reality could be very small indeed.
The Jesus I Never Knew - Philip Yancey
I often forget to mention this one because others always talk about it. But it was a very pivotal book in giving me a love and appreciation for the person of Christ.

The thing I realize as I look at all these books is just how faithful and loquacious God is. He keeps on speaking, and He is willing to use many and varied vehicles to do so. Another thing I realize is that all these books come and go (and sometimes come back again and again) but that the power behind them is the Spirit and the Word of God. At the end of the day, nothing stands up to the book at the top of the pile, and the rest take whatever power they have from the One testified to throughout its pages.


Colin said...

Hey Jon, I haven't seen or talked to you guys for ages, but I'm glad to hear you're doing well. Great post on books and reading, I very much understand what you're talking about here. A good number of those books would also be on my list, particularly because we appear to share a penchant for Chesterton and Lewis (the writing style of each always reminds me of the other).

I saw your post about thesis stuff below, what a great topic! I didn't even know you were back at school. Where are you doing your degree (an MA or ThM I presume?). Your thesis sounds so much more engaging and so much less esoteric than mine...I'm almost jealous. Well, blessings and say hi to Angie for me.


Colin Toffelmire.

matthew a. wilkinson said...

This is great! I love knowing the books people love.

I haven't read 90% of these.