A friend of mine has passed on a challenge he received to list 10 books that have had the biggest impact on your life (besides the Bible. Too obvious.) In no particular order (because I’d be up all night agonizing over how to rank them):
A Christian Philosophy of Education, by Gordon Haddon Clark. My first Clark book, this one taught me the impossibility of a “neutral” worldview.
Faith and Saving Faith, by Gordon Haddon Clark. Cuts through centuries of religious tradition and modern psychology to get to the biblical truth about what faith is and how we’re justified through it. A must-read.
God and Evil: The Problem Solved, by Gordon Haddon Clark. Originally published as the fifth chapter of one of Clark’s most significant works, Religion, Reason, and Revelation, you will find no clearer and straightforward presentation of the sovereignty of God in all things. The logical argumentation is beautiful and inescapable. Another must-read.
The Trinity, by Gordon Haddon Clark. While not an exhaustive work by any stretch, Clark’s treatment of the foundational doctrine of the Christian faith (over the course of three back-to-back readings) was very helpful in aiding my understanding of how it is that three Persons can be one God, and vice versa. It also lays the necessary groundwork for the next one on the list:
The Incarnation, by Gordon Haddon Clark. Clark’s controversial, unfinished final book has been rejected by “unfriendly critics” who can’t see past an admittedly unusual definition of the word “person” employed by the author. It has also, sadly, been the occasion for much maligning of Clark’s orthodoxy. Having read this one three times as well, I can quite strongly affirm that Clark was well within biblical, theological, historical, and creedal orthodoxy, in spite of his rejection of certain traditional English terminology and offering well-defined terms of his own. The subject matter of this book tends to return to my mind every winter, providing a truly marvelous subject upon which to meditate.
Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ, by Nehemiah Coxe and John Owen. This volume, published by Reformed Baptist Academic Press, is of inestimable value to those Baptists who find themselves seemingly adrift between the opposite poles of Dispensationalism and paedobaptist covenant theology. The three biggest contributions (in my opinion) of this book are the establishment that the Reformed doctrine of the covenant of works was and is embraced by the Confessional Baptists from the 17th century til today, Coxe’s masterful treatment of Abraham and the covenants made and revealed to him, and Owen’s thorough distinction between the old and new covenants. Along with Clark’s ‘God and Evil’ and ‘Faith and Saving Faith,’ this book ranks in my top three most influential books.
The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More than a Memory, by Richard Barcellos. This book, in its pre-manuscript, series-of-lectures stage, completely altered my understanding of not just the Lord’s Supper, but God’s means of grace in general. Weekly Lord’s Days, especially those on which the Supper is observed, become exponentially more valuable in one’s worldview when these truths are understood.
Recovering a Covenantal Heritage, Richard Barcellos, ed. A collection of essays that address key subjects, passages, and points of Baptist history, in an attempt to demonstrate the strengths of the historical Baptist view of covenant theology. Dispensationalists, Landmarkists, and Anabaptists will be challenged by its history, while Paedobaptists will be challenged by its exegesis and robust systematic approach to biblical history. The last chapter, by Sam & Micah Renihan, is worth the price of the book, as it provides the clearest and most concise description of what has come to be called “1689 Federalism.”
Each for the Other: Marriage as it’s Meant to Be, by Bryan Chapell. This book was given to me just before my wife and I were married, and we both found it to be a valuable contribution to our understanding and preparation for marriage and family-building. It has become a common wedding gift from me as a result.
The Time is At Hand, by Jay E. Adams. Another far-from-exhaustive work, this book consists of a concise overview of the book of Revelation and the events, both past and future, it foretells. It does not answer every question, and some of the author’s conclusions may be debatable, but the basic structure it outlines of John’s apocolypse has been tremendously helpful in my grasp and embrace of biblical eschatology.
Now for some Honorable Mentions (because it’s my blog, and I say so). Note that some of these would actually rank higher than some in the list above if I were recommending them for reading, but the list was supposed to be those books which have had the biggest impact, which I interpret to mean those books which have been the catalyst for a significant shift, modification, or clarification in my thinking. Many of the following books have been absolutely invaluable to me as well, and while there are some with which I have certain differences, they remain important works in my life as a theological reader:
- The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology, by Pascal Denault
- The Law is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant, Estelle, Fesko, and VanDrunen, eds.
- The Lord’s Day, by Joseph Pipa
- Celebrating the Sabbath, by Bruce A. Ray
- From Paedobaptism to Credobaptism, by W. Gary Crampton
- Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis with the Christ of Eschatology, by J.V. Fesko
- Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors, by Voddie Baucham
- Essays on Ethics and Politics, by Gordon H. Clark
- The Atonement, by Gordon H. Clark
- Exposition of the Entire Bible, by John Gill
- Calvin’s Commentaries
- Blame it on the Brain, by Ed Welch
- Knowing God, by J.I. Packer
- Systematic Theology, by Louis Berkhof
- Principles of Biblical Interpretation, by Louis Berkhof
- Animal Farm, by George Orwell
- God in our Midst: The Tabernacle and our Relationship with God, by Daniel Hyde
- Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, by Zacharias Ursinus
- The Marrow of True Justification, by Benjamin Keach