Believe it or not, people ask for this. Some, because they're genuinely wanting something to read, and others, likely, because they want to know how one human's brain can be so fouled. Who's to blame for this?
Well, here you go. Just a starter list. Blame these books, and these authors. More to come, if you want.
A Scandalous Freedom -- Steve Brown
Steve Brown is a good, solid, Reformed, theologically-sound, upstanding, pastoring, college-teaching, doctorate-holding, mild-mannered, wise, older gentleman.... who completely ticks off all the “Good Christians” with this book.
He tries to get Christians to believe the Gospel, and, my friends, let me tell you... that ain’t easy.
In other words: Hero.
Orthodoxy -- G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton is one of my favorite people ever. He’s absent-minded, he’s self-deprecating, he’s happily fat, he loves life, and he disagrees with just about everybody, all the time. And he’s also so right, so often.
Plus, he’s hilarious. And he skewers modernity, just so.
He shows how beauty, art, and life are found within the bounds of lasting, Biblical faith in Jesus, not in the avant-garde. Faith in Jesus “fits the lock” for life’s troubling questions.
Pagan Christianity and From Eternity to Here -- Frank Viola
They won’t stock Pagan Christianity in many church bookstores, even though it sold mega-copies. I can understand why. Frank Viola (and George Barna) show that a lot of what we think of as making up Biblical “church” life actually has no basis in scripture.
Hold on to your churchgoin' hat.
-- and then read Viola’s follow-up, From Eternity to Here, to see just how beautiful God’s vision for the church really is. It’s an incredibly romantic book. Read them both. Healthy deconstruction, then reconstruction, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Prodigal God -- Timothy Keller
I wish I could buy this one for everyone who’s been in a church more than two years. Tim Keller captures the story, and how it re-defines, for its listeners, God, sin, and forgiveness.
The mis-named “Prodigal Son” is the best story I’ve ever heard. Read this book, and then thank God.
Messy Christianity -- Mike Yaconelli
Mike Yaconelli died in a car accident after writing this. I always admired him for his youth ministry, and for his leadership of “America’s slowest-growing church”.
Funny, and easy to read, and so true. We’re all messed-up, and stuff happens, and thank God for all of it.
The Last of the Mohicans -- James Fenimore Cooper
Just kidding. I actually hate this book. "The Coop" was, I’m sure, an awesome guy, but... zzzzz.
The Great Divorce -- C.S. Lewis
I could pick practically anything by Lewis. But Heaven and Hell are big right now.
In Love Wins, a book of the moment, Rob Bell recommends this book “for further reading”, along with Keller’s Prodigal God. On this, I agree with Bell wholeheartedly.
What’s So Amazing About Grace -- Philip Yancey
The world pines for grace. It aches for it. Yancey is a fair-minded, thoughtful, journalist-type who grew up in legalism. He tells stories, and helps us all breathe the fresh air of Amazing Grace.
The Ragamuffin Gospel -- Brennan Manning
This book confirms what I thought: If a single book is loved by both Rich Mullins and Bono, I’ll love it, too.
Here's the upshot: Losers, misfits, and benchwarmers... welcome to the table of God. Let's dance.