Written Influences on my Faith

Recently, Cori asked about books that have influenced our journey of the Christian faith. I thought that was a great question and a difficult one to answer. I thought I would reproduce my response here:

This is a daunting task: how to narrow influential books down to a short list? These are a few that I have found profound and insightful. There are plenty more where this came from, but these jumped out at me.

  1. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson – I think this is a MUST read for every Christian. Peterson uses the Psalms of Ascents as a framework for talking about the Christian Life. Peterson is the one who wrote the Bible paraphrase “The Message” and is considered a spiritual theologian.
  2. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee – a wonderful discussion about the reality of Bible reading and how it should be approached. In my opinion, this is another MUST read for every Christian. Gordon Fee was part of both the NIV and TNIV translation committee, is the general editor for a pretty major commentary series, and has done a lot for textual criticism and exegeses.
  3. Silence by Shusaku Endo – A difficult book about apostasy. Helped me continue thinking and realizing that there truly are difficult questions that we could wrestle with, black and white isn’t always the order of the day. Shusaku Endo I know the least about, but his novel was quite thought provoking.
  4. The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter – somewhat heavy, but provides wonderful context for the OT: how it all fits together. Robert Alter is a Hebrew scholar and has done a lot with the OT.
  5. Pretty much anything and everything by NT Wright, especially The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is. Pure brilliance. Wright is the Bishop of Durham and is an extremely prolific New Testament theologian (often with a focus on Pauline theology).
  6. Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen – A beautiful look at the Christian spiritual life through the lens of Rembrandt’s painting of the same name (my favorite painting!). Nouwen was a Catholic priest who wrote numerous books on spirituality.
  7. Beyond the Cosmos by Hugh Ross – one of my first explicitly Christian/Scientist perspective and the marriage of those worlds. Hugh Ross run as organization called Reasons to Believe that aims to “bridge the gap between science and faith.”

Wow, hard to narrow it to seven! Did I really leave out Lewis??

What about you? What writers have influenced your walk? Most of mine our non-fiction writers. That isn’t to say fiction can’t influence, it just wasn’t for me—although there is still Lewis. I still don’t know how I left out works like Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce…

Categories: Literature, Religion, Theology
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