I've enjoyed two posts in the last couple of days. Those were Al Mohler's reflections on books and what they tell us about a person and Tim Challies' reflection on Al's reflection. Both were good reads. Tim and Al had me looking at my book shelves with warm fuzzies.
After reading their pieces, I figured I was fairly history-minded and orthodox, though not generously and working on humbly. Then my little bubble burst. I read CT's Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals. After reading the list, all I can say is that I may not be an evangelical.
I've only read four books on the list (Knowing God -- the 1st book I read as a new Christian; The Cost of Discipleship, The God Who Is There, and "oh the shame," Left Behind, the first five volumes) and I've managed to skim another (Stott's Basic Christianity). I use Operation World as a resource for prayer and educating the congregation about missions. I've read and appreciated Tozer, but I've not gotten around to Knowledge of the Holy. I own The Gospel of the Kingdom, The Next Christendom, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, Mere Christianity and Desiring God, but I've not read them yet. Many of the titles I'm familiar with because of their arguments or because of their authors. But most I've never heard of.
Two reactions come to mind. If Al Mohler is correct (you can tell a lot about a person by what books they have and have read), then I'm not an evangelical judging by this list! Assuming, of course, that we're going to continue using the word "evangelical" and pretending to agree on what it means.
My second reaction is perhaps more discerning.... What a wacky list!
Surely Grudem's Systematic Theology should be on the list! Perhaps Don Whitney's Spiritual Disciplines? Not Piper and Grudem's Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood? That's a landmark work and a watershed issue. For younger evangelicals, I Kissed Dating Goodbye is as important a book as any written in the last 50 years addressing issues that have been bottled up with Victoria's secrets for centuries! Did Lewis write Screwtape and The Chronicles more than 50 years ago? If not, they're on my list of influential fiction.
Then there are the less than stellar, sometimes useful, but very influential books of the last 50 years. For example, a book like The Five Love Languages, though I think it may be a stretch to call it "evangelical," has had a wider influence than some of the titles listed. What? No Prayer of Jabez? C'mon... you know that was influential and shaped the way so-called evangelicals pray more than anything else in our generation. Everyone knows someone who was praying, "Lord, expand my territory." I've never even heard of the #1 title they listed which earned #1 because of its impact on the prayer lives of Christians. And this isn't an endorsement necessarily, but how influential have the Blackaby's been with Experiencing God? Do you know a mainstream evangelical church that hasn't done a small group or church-wide study of that book?
The CT folks had an impossible task. Perhaps the list reflects the diversity of the respondents as much as anything. But if this is the list that has shaped evangelicalism over the last 50 years, I really may not be much of an evangelical at all.
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