Theology Books


Heaven

Randy Alcorn


We are 'homesick for Eden.' That is how Alcorn describes our desire for something we do not see now, but long for - heaven. It's our real home. But if we have a distorted view of what heaven will be like - that's even worse! Do you think it might be something like floating on clouds, playing a harp, and an eternal "worship service"? Are you afraid you'll be bored? Then you are not so eager! Though none of us are sure what heaven is, Alcorn's book can ignite our longing for heaven by showing us what the Bible does tell us. Alcorn answers good questions with biblical and compelling responses. He offers us a healthy understanding of heaven, which can help us serve God now while we wait. You'll discover that you are "homesick for Eden" and heaven is what God prepared to meet that need for you! But this book is a bit long: about 500 pages. He also has a 60 page pamphlet, but that is a bit short. I think that 230 pages would have been better! But not having that option, I recommend the pamphlet to wet your appetite and his long book to go deeper. Consider reading a 10-page chapter a week and you'll have a wonderful tour of heaven over the course of the next year.




Confessions of Saint Augustine

St. Augustine


Augustine was born just a few decades after Christianity became legal under the Roman Emperor, Constantine. Early on in his life, he was a pagan while his mother prayed and waited. This book was written well after his adult conversion and in part describes this journey from a group called the Manachees to God. Augustine wrote this while bishop of Hippo (in north Africa). I know many who hesitate to read the 'old dead guys' for a couple of reasons: they are from a very different culture and so may have nothing in common with us, they lived before the Reformation and so are 'suspect', and perhaps we think they are too difficult to read. All of these have an element of truth - but all are wrong. Actually, Augustine has much in common with us. For example, I enjoy the way he attacks problems like astrology - common then and now. He posed the "thought experiment" of a slave born at the same time and place as a rich boy, yet both have the same "horoscope" and both have very different circumstances! Also, rather than being considered 'suspect' because he is 'Catholic', he is actually the foundation of much of what is taught by the Reformers (Luther and Calvin) and most Protestants. For example, Augustine teaches that God is in charge of all things, down to details of our life and the universe, but God does not overrule the will of individuals as he sovereignly rules. Good balance. I'm also delighted by his understanding of the Bible: "The Bible was composed in such a way that as beginners mature, its meaning grows with them." How true! What I memorize today returns again later to instruct me when I have grown enough to see new challenges and encouragements. As for difficult to read, again this is not the case. Try him!



Jonathan Edwards' Resolutions: And Advice to Young Converts

Jonathan Edwards


What did you "resolve" when you were 20 years old? When Jonathan Edwards was in his early 20's, just finishing school, he resolved this: "Resolved, never to give over, not in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be." This one, and 69 other resolutions, are just as eye opening and challenging to our own spiritual life. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a writer and pastor in New England. He was also a missionary to the Native Americans. His writings are extensive and often are difficult to understand - not unlike Paul of Tarsus who wrote much of the New Testament! But this book is not hard to understand, not at all. Just challenging. This book is short - only 36 pages. It is worth reading and worth reading very slowly. Perhaps it should be read just a page a day for a month - to really absorb this man's passion for Christ, and for a life well-lived serving him.




Unity of the Bible

Daniel P. Fuller


Why is the Old Testament so different from the New Testament? Is God harsh in the Old Testament and kind in the New Testament? Many of you have been bothered by that. But what if God's two Testaments are more similar than different? I won't tell you that Fuller's book is easy to read - or short (508 pages!), but some challenging things are worth the effort - and this is one of those challenges. Fuller helps us see that the Gospel of Grace is the same message in the "Old" and "New" Testaments. In fact, he shows that the real difference is between God's one message, and every other religious idea in the world. In fact, to get this first and most important idea from the book requires only about 100 pages (Part 1) - worth the price of the book! Then, slowly and carefully, he walks the reader through the whole story of the Bible, showing how God works out his message, through the Old and New Testaments, step-by-step. I strongly encourage you to consider reading Part I and then when you have a bit more time, work through the rest (Parts 2-4). Fuller helped me to understand how to read and know and live the Gospel - the Gospel of the Old and New Testaments, the Gospel of the One True God and his Son, Jesus Christ.



The Reason for God

Timothy Keller


This book is a very helpful read for Christians who want to speak with their neighbors and not-yet-Christians who are ready to hear a winsome and non-aggressive presentation of why Christianity is worth considering. Today, our world rejects the idea of anything that claims to be universal. It rejects not only Christianity as too exclusive or intolerant, but also all ideas which claim any kind of universal truth. This includes morality, political systems, and in some contexts, even science (people speak of "western science" as an imperialist imposition and there is something worth discussing there!). Tim Keller asks the questions that Christians and non-Christians are asking such as: How could God allow suffering? Is Christianity a straightjacket? Has science disproved Christianity? Then in part 2, he addresses the core ideas from God's perspective, including the difference between religion and Christianity. None of this is new, but Keller addresses our culture in ways that are frank, winsome, and represent God well. Everyone who takes the time to read it will find it very beneficial for their own thinking and conversations with friends and perhaps their own joy in relationship with God.



Women in the Church

Andreas J Kostenberger and Thomas Schreiner


This book is an extended study of 1 Timothy 2 and Paul's famous (with some, infamous) prohibition about women having authority over men. It is hard to understand in our culture - in fact some wonder if it has any application to our culture today. This book will not settle the issue for most people, but the editors bring together many sound biblical scholars who help us understand the intent of Paul (and hopefully of God) in this key text. The books is challenging, but very worth reading





Knowing God

J. I. Packer


Packer is a man in love with God - and it shows. If you want to learn to love to fish, how do you learn? You could buy a rod and pole and just go. But even better is to spend time with someone who knows fishing and loves it! If you want to learn to love and delight in God - read Packer! Packer will take you by the hand and lead you to Him, like Andrew with Simon (John 1). Along the way, he'll answer many questions, but on every page he'll say - "Here now you try." Behold your God!




Emotionally Healthy Church

Peter Scazzero


Who would not want to be part of a healthy church? We all do. Yet, I have found people's response to this book to be quite mixed - some see it as psycho-babble. Worse the author includes insights from questionable sources including a Buddhist, Henri Nowen, Thomas Merton, and Gandhi. These are reasons for caution. Yet, his ground is God's Word and what he teaches is in keeping with what it means to be healthy before God - consumed with God rather than people. His key idea is that Spiritual maturity is tied to Emotional maturity because the same God who made heaven and earth and emotions (emotional maturity) is the God who calls us to know him and delight in him (spiritual maturity). This book is very worth the investment and Scazzero can be an excellent tutor.



10 Keys for Unlocking The Bible

Colin S. Smith


This book is simple, direct, and 'easy'. That is, 'easy' to read, but might launch you on a wonderfully challenging and life-long study of the most important book ever written - God's Word to us. This is a good book for not-yet-Christians who want to know what the Bible is, for young Christians who want to learn how to study the Bible, and those who have learned many Bible stories, but do not yet know how to put them together. This is an important book for most Christians.



What is Reformed Theology?

RC Sproul


Theological systems are not descriptions of what God does, but human models of how to best understand God. Within Christianity - that is considered orthodox and legitimate models of God - we find many systems. The two basic systems we 'inherited' from the Reformation are Arminianism and Reformed theology. Arminians emphasize the freewill of people over the sovereignty of God. Reformed theologians emphasize the sovereignty of God over the freewill of man. But what does the Bible say? R.C. Sproul helps us understand Reformed theology, and in doing so, gives us an understanding of Arminian theology. While I am Reformed, I think Sproul is fair to both.




The Cross of Christ

John R. Stott


The Cross of Christ is not a simple book, nor a quick read. It's the kind of book you choose to read a chapter a week and think about it for the next week. It's neither an academic work, nor devotional. It is biblical, theological, practical, and thought provoking. But it is more like hiking in the mountains, than spending a day ice fishing on the lake. It takes work. But because the subject is eternal and the work pays huge dividends, it is almost a must read for every Christian who wants to understand the Cross. Given the dangers of the world and the battlefield on which we live, this is critical training. Pick it up, put it in your backpack, and hike the mountain. Then sit on comfortable ledge where you can see the sky and the mountain, and read it with your Bible and journal close at hand. Then come back down, ready to know, love and serve God with the community of the people of God.




Biblical Eldership: An Urgent Call to Restore Biblical Church Leadership

Alexander Strauch


Many people wonder how God wants us to function as a church? Who leads? How do we organize? What kind of leadership is best? Alexander Strauch has written a most helpful book which shows us by teaching and example that Elders are to lead God's people. Strauch identifies four key roles for Elders: guarding, leading, feeding, and caring for God's flock and teaches us what that should look like in God's church. Along the way he addresses issues of qualifications, male leadership, and even how elders are to be appointed/elected by the congregation. The book is biblically saturated, practical, and helps us understand better how God intends his church to work. This book is also available as a brief summary (purple cover, and much smaller format).




The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God

A.W. Tozer


Have you heard anyone say, 'I like to think of God...' and then they fill in the blank. It turns out that how we like to think of God is not only unimportant, but quite often an idol. Tozer is a very helpful tutor who tries to help us understand God on God's terms, as has revealed himself to us in the Word. It is not hard to read, only dangerous to our idols if we really see God.