Where to start? Half my library could be shelved as theology, for crying out loud.
How about I start with disclaimers. First, I am only dealing here with Christian theology books, although I’d like to give a shout out to The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran. That book is . . . how can one say . . . interesting. Second, I’m lumping prayer, devotional, biblical studies, and books about church into this category. That might not be fair, but I have no intention of dragging this out to that level of precision. I didn’t do it for fiction and I’m not going to do it here. Third, I recognize that not many people read theology (at least not as many who read fiction or biographies) but since it is an important part of my reading background, I want to include it in this series. After all, these are my top three books.
Christian Theology, Millard Erickson
In seminary we called this thing the Green Monster, even though my copy is blue. One should think of this work as more of a reference piece than a theology book you’d sit down and read in a day or two. Instead, I think every home should have it on the shelf in order to do a study on the Trinity, soteriology, or the divinity of Jesus. Erickson’s work is huge, but the chapters are relatively bite size with precise language yet not overly technical. I also find that he avoids the problems I have with other theologians, which is to say that he is even handed in treating subjects from differing positions without compromising where he really stands on the subject.
The Reason for God, Tim Keller
Tim Keller may well be the smartest person in North America. He certainly has gotten everyone’s attention with his amazingly successful church in New York City. The reason I love this book is because it is intelligent and shrewd in dealing with all of the tough questions and criticisms that those of us who believe are often accosted with–faith and science, the veracity of the Bible, and the idea of judgment just to name a few. I almost listed C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity here instead of Keller. Lewis, of course, is much more classical in his approach but Keller does for our age what Lewis did sixty years ago and he does it against the backdrop of contemporary culture.
Plus, he quotes Darth Vader. How can you not love a theologian who quotes Darth Vader. In fact, I’m so impressed by Keller he gets a line in my new novel.
Worship is a Verb, Robert Webber
Liturgy. Silence. Participation. Beauty. Time. Scripture. These are all foundational elements to Christian worship that are often missing form most evangelical churches. Robert Webber teaches us that they are important and tells us how to integrate them without (and this is particularly true of my tribe of Baptists, who are petrified of contemplation and transcendence) frightening everyone. Most churches get two things wrong: Worship and spiritual formations which are replaced with a show and programs. Webber saw all of this coming when he wrote this classic in 1985. It is a little dated now, but it is still true.
I only have a couple, yea verily, maybe three more of these posts on my top three books left. But here are three really great theology books that I love and treasure. I’d like to know what your favorites are.