Patrick McWilliams challenged me to list ten books that have most impacted me, or something to that effect. The following is an amalgamation of books that have either impacted my thinking in a critical way and/or ones that I consider a “must-read.” I’m sticking to a hard ten, because that’s the rule, and not listing the Bible because that’s so obvious it’s unfair. In no particular order:
1. Absolutely Free, by Zane Hodges. I believe this was the first soteriological book I had ever read. It was probably my sophomore or junior year of college when I had Doctrine II with Paul Benware, and this book had come up in the discussion. It seemed to put into written word what I had been taught in years of youth group. Great introductory work on faith and the gospel.
2. The Believer’s Payday, by Paul Benware. I had to read this for Doctrine III, for which the author was my professor. This book married my two favorite doctrinal areas — soteriology and eschatology. Specifically, this book sets forth the doctrine of the Judgment Seat of Christ, and how what we do as believers in this life greatly impacts the life to come. I consider this the one “must-read” of every believer.
3. Final Destiny: The Future Reign of the Servant Kings, by Joseph Dillow. Dillow is a systematic treatment of the role of works in the life of a believer. Systematic. I don’t think he leaves one stone unturned in all 1,100 pages.
4. What Is Saving Faith, by Gordon Clark. Ah Clark. Much of Clark’s work has been an encouragement to me, and this is no exception. He expertly defines and discusses faith on a philosophical level, unmatched by any of those in the typical “free grace” camp.
5. The Bondage of the Will, by Martin Luther. Sarcasm + total depravity + grace + biting sarcasm = everyone wins.
6. No Condemnation, A Theology of Assurance of Salvation, by Michael Eaton. This list is heavy on the soteriology, but this work highlights another aspect of faith in proper perspective — assurance. Assurance does not come through our works, but through our faith in the gospel. If we are looking to ourselves to prove that we believed the gospel, that’s when we need the gospel all the more.
7. God and Evil: The Problem Solved, by Gordon Clark. I tend to take a bit of a hard line when it comes to God’s sovereignty and the problem of evil. I blame it on one of my college professors and his fascination with sea monsters in Scripture. Clark again sets forth a systematic argument from the entirety of Scripture and biblical philosophy to present a strong case for what I always considered to be biblical truth.
8. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever. I’ve read this one within the past year, in part due to a major leadership transition taking place at our church. While I don’t agree with everything in here, it’s a great read for anyone in church ministry.
9. Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom, by Ron Paul. I hesitated to list this one, as many have strong feelings on Dr. Paul. But, much like Dillow did for sanctification, and Clark did for the sovereignty of God, Dr. Paul lays out a systematic defense for lower-case libertarianism. It’s not a technical book by any means, but it sets forth a groundwork that I believe fits in nicely with a biblical worldview.
10. Leading with a Limp: Take Full of Advantage of Your Most Powerful Weakness, by Dan Allender. I read this one while the Resident Director at WBC, and led our RAs in a discussion of it. A great book on leadership, particularly a leadership style that recognizes and accepts weaknesses, instead of hiding them.