Treasures from My Bookshelf
Recently, one of my students suggested that members of our faculty submit a list of books that we have read over the years that had a particularly profound effect on us. We thought it was a great idea and so here is my list with some brief comments as to how each title impacted my life. You will note that some of these books are not new but have been around a while. In the flurry of new titles coming off evangelical presses, we ought not forget the solid “old ones” that were used of God to help shape us into who we have become.
At the top of my list is Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot. This is the well-known story of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming and Ed McCully who gave their lives to reach the unreached Aucas (today, Waodoni) of Ecuador. I read it early in my ministerial career and it was very significant. Coupled with that title was Shadow of the Almighty which was Elizabeth Elliot’s biography of her husband. Both books were spiritual feasts and set a high goal for spiritual attainment.
Third on my list of important reads would have to be The Pleasures of God by John Piper. This book came into my life at the time we were dealing with the reality of a disabled son, and realizing more clearly the sovereignty of God in all things was very helpful in a most difficult time. While I have enjoyed other John Piper’s books, to this list I should add The Supremacy of God in Preaching. I made it a practice to read annually books on preaching and ministry and this was a great reminder of my main job. Also very helpful was R. Kent Hughes’ Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome.
I have also been a lover of biography. Several should be on this list. First and foremost would be Lewis Drummond’s Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers. It’s a long tome but well worth the effort and the price of the book. Also very useful were Arnold Dallimore’s two volume set George Whitefield. More recently I read Tom Nettles, James Petigru Boyce. Boyce was the mainspring of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in its beginning and Nettles, my doctoral mentor. But the book is a worthy read just to see the life of a man wholly committed to following Christ. As I think through this list, I should also add Iain Murray’s Jonathan Edwards, though George Marsden’s treatment is deeper, Murray really introduced me to the great theologian.
Finally I should mention some theological titles that have been helpful. High on my list would be another Nettle’s title, By His Grace and for His Glory. Through this book, I came to appreciate better the robust tradition of solid Calvinist orthodoxy of my Baptist heritage.