Essential Reading

On this page I will keep a suggested reading list. I will not add anything to this list that I have not read and that I do not consider essential, or at least from my perspective, strongly advised. Simply translated, these are the works I believe to have been most formative for me.

William T. Cavannaugh, “A Fire Strong Enough to Consume the House: the Wars of Religion and the Rise of the State” (PDF) This article exposes the modern paradigm of the rist of the State to protect us from religion.

Stanley Fish, “Why We Can’t All Just Get Along” An excellent piece on the limits of inclusivity and diversity within modernity.

Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution is a great, easy read you won’t be able to put down.

Sally Morgenthaler’s cover story in the September 2007 Next-wave e-zine. She wrote the book on Worship as Evangelism.  Now, she adds important and interesting correctives.

Diana Butler-Bass’s Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith.   If you are in a “mainline” church, you should read this book.  Now.  Drop all the other books you are reading, buy a copy of this, and read it.  If you are clergy in a “mainline” church, you should get copies for yourself and your leadership and go through it together.

14 thoughts on “Essential Reading

  1. I want to add “The Reciprocating Self” by Balswick, King, and Reimer; also, “Mapping Postmodernism: A Survey of Christian Options” by Robert Greer. The second suggestion is probably too basic for those of you have already adopted the postmodern turn. However, it is a sensible introduction to both the concerns and possibilities of the postmodern paradigm. If I hear another sermon allusion to the evils of postmodernism, I’m gonna stand right up in church and say “get your paradigms straight” out loud. What, exactly, was explicitly Christian about modernism? Didn’t modernism produce Skinner and Watson and the Humanist Manifesto????

    The first suggestion is explicitly about a synthesis of the current state of developmental psychology and psychology. The authors seem to think their presentation of a teleological view of human development would not fit with the postmodern paradigm, calling it a metanarrative, and perhaps in some circles that would be true. However, in the sense that developmental psychology is increasingly turning toward at least a teleonomic model of human development, I found “The Reciprocating Self” to be faithful to both psychology and theology.

  2. I would like to suggest “Worshipping Trinity” by Robin Parry. A fantastic book. Easy to read, but deeply challenging and convicting. As someone who leads worship, it should be in your library. I read it in one of Lester Ruth’s worship classes at ATS and it quite honestly changed my life. Have you read it?

      • It’s (as you could most likely guess) about the practice of Trinitarian worship. And how often in our churches, particularly evangelical ones, we tend to exhalt one member of the Godhead above the others, without even realizing it. He talks about how little mention the Holy Spirit often receives, and how as worship leaders, we do a poor job of giving our congregations as FULL a picture of God as we could be. And (yikes!) we tend to even sometimes be modalistic in our presentation of the Trinity, because our Trinitarian syntax is slightly “off”. It’s good. Interesting and good.

  3. “unChristian” by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons and “Simple Church” by Thom Rainer were especially eye-opening for this layperson who struggles to reconcile his historic mainline upbringing with the real mission of spreading the gospel and growing disciples.

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