Too many books exist.
The number of books on any given subject is exponentially higher than the number of books that are worth reading and writing. The reason for that has more to do with economics than anything else. If it will sell, then it will be written. Most books exist for the same reason the Big Mac does: not for the sake of quality, but for the sake of consumption. As long as there is demand, there will be supply.
My reading habits are highly chaotic. At the time of writing, I am simultaneously reading nine different books in various subjects (marriage, philosophy, mostly ecclesiology). I make progress 1-3 chapters at a time, and I always have several other books waiting in the wings in case one of my current books becomes boring or unhelpful. I used to worry that I was being lazy when I didn’t finish a book. Then one day it occurred to me that there are more A+ books out there than I’ll ever finish in my lifetime so finishing a book that’s turning out to be a B- is bad stewardship.
The following books have influenced me tremendously and I’m greatly indebted to the authors for bothering to write them.
Humility: True Greatness by C. J. Mahaney
How would you react if a close friend of yours, someone you really trust, sat down with you and said: “Some of the greatest problems in your life are the result of a lack of humility on your part”? Would that be weird, or just helpful? What if I could prove to you abstractly and non-personally that the greatest adversary in your life is your own pride? That’s exactly what Mahaney does in this book. He also gives you some practical tips on how to mortify pride and cultivate humility. I’ve never known anyone who doesn’t need to read this book, and neither have you.
Love Your God With All Your Mind by J. P. Moreland
In most Christian churches today, you can use words like postmodernism, naturalism, determinism, and empiricism, and almost no one knows what you’re talking about. But these concerns are essential to responsible Christian discipleship in the 21st Century. God has commanded Christians to worship God with their minds. Rather than being apathetic, and even smug or complacent at times, about being relegated to the periphery of the global marketplace of ideas, we need to be ready to articulate and demonstrate the Christian worldview with rational precision and a winsome demeanor. This book addresses the rise of anti-intellectualism in the church, and offers practical reasons and ways to become an intellectually responsible follower of Christ.
Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin
No other single book has taught me more about excellence in my career than Kauflin’s book. I’m very grateful for the clarity and inspiration that this book has brought to my job and I couldn’t imagine mentoring young worship leaders without walking them through this book.
Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer
Both knowing God, and knowing about God, are ends unto themselves. They are worth doing intrinsically. But also, the more you understand God, the more you’ll understand everything else, since everything else is created by God.
Engaging with God by David Peterson
This is not a light read. If you’re not in love with Bible, you’ll probably hate this book. But if you want to know why I don’t think of music when I hear the word “worship” then this book will help you tremendously. It clearly articulates the Biblical understanding of worship, and describes what a local church might look like if they took the Bible seriously on the subject.
Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller
Nancy Pearcey says that the fear of some god is the beginning of any proposed system of knowledge. The way you think, and consequently the way you live, is determined by which god you worship. Keller points out that worshiping anything besides the one true God will be ultimately unsatisfying and destructive and that salvation through Christ is primarily a change in the object of our worship.
Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig
Christian faith is not blind faith. The Biblical understanding of faith is that it is supported by reasons and evidence, and it is best exercised by those who have their minds, hearts, and eyes wide open. In this book, Craig marshals some of the best contemporary arguments in defense of the Christian worldview.
Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church by D. A. Carson
If you’re a Christian, and you don’t already know what the emerging church is, you’re a little behind and I suggest you read this book. The emerging church started when someone dropped a little epistemological pebble into the pond of Christianity and it has been rippling outward ever since. Your church is under the influence of this movement whether you know it or not, so you might as well be informed. Carson discusses the movement fairly, warning against its weaknesses and drawing from its strengths.
The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis
There are a lot of big words in this book, and a lot of them are not in English. This is really hard to read, but once you start to understand it, it will blow your mind. Beginning with a seemingly innocuous little statement in a grammar textbook, Lewis accurately predicted the philosophical and cultural paradigms that we are seeing today, and he concluded with a final outcome that is bleak and terrifying: the abolition of man. It’s a sobering reminder of the principle of the path, and a wake up call for Christians.
There are many other books I could put in this series, but this will have to do for now. At the time of posting, Amazon has it at $112.96 for the lot. Worth it.
Maybe one day I’ll publish a list of books I stopped reading because they were so bad, but I probably won’t. That blog doesn’t sound like it’s worth writing. In any case, if you’re reading a B- book right now, I suggest you put it down.