A little while ago (longer than I care to admit) the nice librarian at our church asked me if I would kindly provide her with a list of what I considered to be my own "Top 10" Christian books (excluding the Bible of course). What she was asking for was a list of the 10 books which have most influenced me as a Christian and which, by extension, I would probably recommend to others.
Her intention was to ask several people and create a "Top 10" shelf in our church library with books that several people consider to be "highly recommended." I thought it was a great idea.
But as I pondered her request, my thoughts started getting tangled like a string of hastily stored Christmas lights. Maybe I'm overthinking it. But here is what I'm struggling with:
1) How do I know which books have actually influenced me the most? The ones I THINK have been most helpful might not in fact be the ones that have really been most useful to my progress (or lack thereof) as a Christian. It's like asking "Which 10 meals in your life most nourished you?" I haven't got a clue. But I'm pretty sure that some which I enjoyed the most weren't necessarily the healthiest.
2) But secondly, and even maybe more importantly, is the issue of pride. When providing a list of my top 10 books, how do I avoid the temptation to merely list books which I think I "should" consider to be favorites. Maybe that sounds weird. But readers are a funny lot. And we, to our shame, often make rash judgments about others based upon what they have read or are reading. It's wrong. I'm not proud of it. I'm just giving you the truth.
So in compiling this list I approached it this way. I imagined that I was being sent away to a deserted island. I could only take 10 books (other than my Bible). But the rule is that they have to be books which I have already read, and they couldn't be multi-volume works (well, except for #7 below, but its just 2 volumes). With those thoughts in mind I grabbed a pen, an index card, and I walked through my little home library.
Here is what I came up with:
By the way, each book contains a hyperlink to Amazon. They are really in no particular order.
1. Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
2. Principles of Conduct – John Murray
3. Knowing God – JI Packer
4. The Crook in the Lot – Thomas Boston
5. The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
6. Morning & Evening – C.H. Spurgeon
7. George Whitfield (biography) – Arnold Dallimore (2 volumes, but hey, who's counting?)
8. Charity & Its Fruit – Jonathan Edwards
9. Holiness - J.C. Ryle
10. Biblical Theology – Geerhardus Vos
What surprises me most about this list are the names that are NOT on it. There are individuals who have been a tremendous blessing to me through their numerous books and works, however, no single title stood out so much as to make my top 10. I'm thinking of men like R.C. Sproul who has been an enormous blessing to me over the years. People like John Calvin, Iain Murray, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Ravi Zaccharias, John MacArthur, and others. I love the Puritans, but their influence on me has been more like a steady diet than any one spectacular dessert (Bunyan & Boston did make the list, however).
And so, for whatever its worth, that is my list. Tomorrow I'll turn it over to my librarian.
So...could YOU add a title or two to this list? Why not leave your TOP 10 in the comment section?
Now, back to my island....