This short list is offered for those who’d like to begin reading theology but don’t know where to start, for those whose aim is simply to introduce a greater measure of thoughtfulness to their Christian walk. These texts will set you down a solid path. And they’ll do so in lively and accessible spirits. (No doubt my biases are exposed here, but I stand by my picks nonetheless.) In the future I’ll provide a reading list for those interested in taking a further step into theological scholarship.
- Austin Farrer, The Essential Sermons, Ed. Lesslie Houlden, (SPCK, 1991).
“He [Jesus] does not, needless to say, want us to be shirkers or grabbers, idlers or egotists, playboys or exhibitionists. But then, once in his company, we do not want to be these things.”
- Bruce Fisk, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jesus: Reading the Gospels on the Ground, (Baker, 2011).
“Hope partially fulfilled is hope preserved, not hope nullified” (178).
- Gerhard Forde, “Hidden Treasure: A Sermon on Matthew 13:44,” in A More Radical Gospel: Essays on Eschatology, Authority, Atonement, and Ecumenism, Eds. Mark Mattes and Steven Paulson, (Eerdmans, 2004), 211-214.
“Am I not reduced finally to silence? No! For there is only one thing left I can do. I can only give you the treasure” (214).
- Paul Holmer, Making Christian Sense, (Westminster Press, 1984).
“Christianity, while including church, teachings, historical events, and persons, is, as the New Testament so poignantly shows, an access and means to a new love, a new hope, a new way, and a new view — a new thought — about oneself, God, and the world. In short, not only is one educated and disciplined in order to become a Christian (that surely is needed by all of us), but one also is educated and trained, disciplined and built up by Christianity. The Christian life is a way to learn new emotions, new virtues and righteousness, a new will, and a novel and tough way of thinking about oneself, God, and the world” (103).
- Brad Kallenberg, Live to Tell: Evangelism in a Postmodern World, (Brazos, 2002).
“Why do you think translating Christian claims into philosophical-ese makes anything plainer?”
- C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold (1956)
- Mark McIntosh, “How Not to Believe: The Dangers of Fantasy and Fanaticism,” in Divine Teaching: An Introduction to Christian Theology, (Blackwell, 2008), 46-54.
“If it is really God that theology is trying to understand, and it is really God who is inciting the search, then we should be able to recognize something good and perhaps even something holy developing in the character of those who are being genuinely and authentically theological” (50).
- Leslie Newbigin, Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship, (SPCK, 1995).
“To look outside the gospel for a starting point for the demonstration of the reasonableness of the gospel is itself a contradiction of the gospel, for it implies that we look for the logos elsewhere than in Jesus.”
- J. I. Packer, Knowing God, (InterVarsity, 1973).
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- Robert Wennberg, Faith at the Edge: A Book for Doubters, (Eerdmans, 2009).
“With the dark night of the soul the genie is no longer there to grant our every wish. God is no longer at our beck and call. By withdrawing, God communicates that he is not the servant of the person of faith, but it is the person of faith who is the servant” (65).
- Rowan Williams, Being Disciples: Essentials of the Christian Life, (Eerdmans, 2016).
“In our age, and in the age that lies ahead, the faith we as Christians proclaim will need to be not a clever system but the possibility of dependable relationship” (26).
- Telford Work, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: Living through the Lord’s Prayer, (Eerdmans, 2007).
“Every good answer to every question about God’s character appeals to God as Triune” (16).