Number 10: The Divine Romance by Gene Edwards–When I read this first, over ten years ago, my life was changed. I had never seen the Bible as more than history and suddenly I was being invited into His Story…the greatest love story ever told. What an amazing and full vision of God’s Eternal Purpose–from everlasting to everlasting (with you and me at the center of His heart).
Number 9: The Complex Christ by Kester Brewin–In December a friend recommended this. I was dreading the book to be honest–it looked like a dummy’s manual “how to guide” to emergence…and I really had no interest in reading it…But then I opened it…I was wrecked. The words were prophetic. They were inspirational. They were centered on the person of Jesus Christ and offered a deep vision of God and humanity working in concert together in His Kingdom. Truly awesome.
Number 8: Christ the Sum of All Spiritual Things by Watchman Nee–8 yeas ago an church planter and Christian worker suggested this. I had just met the Lord in a “knock you off your ass (donkey–in reference to Paul’s road to Damascus experience)” sort of way. He thought that this might inspire an even deeper appreciation for Christ as all and in all…He was right. It became the language I spoke for 7 years. Very formational.
Number 7: Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell–there’s no doubt that this book was all about timing for me. My faith needed repainting. I was on the verge of mental breakdown, I was immersed in a system of thought that had led me to pride–exclusivity–and absolutism, I was numb to God and closed to anything but the narrow vantage I found comfortable…Then I read this book. It forced me to confront all of those demons and acknowledge my own brokenness…I really can’t recommend it highly enough.
Number 6: The Indwelling Life of Christ by Major Ian W Thomas–it’s not like I hadn’t heard the deeper Christian Life message before…this wasn’t a revolutionary book per se…but I’ve still not found a more artful and articulate synthesis of the theme of “All of Him for all of me”…I can’t help but wonder if this writing and thought process set me up for a significant embrace of the kingdom reality in my life–the kingdom gospel which speaks of a heavenly invasion into my livingess claiming my head, heart, and hands. I would say that’s what Major Ian W. Thomas was talking about all those years ago…
Number 5: The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann–this book took me off guard. It’s a recent addition in my life. I knew of Brueggy baby (that’s Mike’s nickname for him) but thought of him merely in terms of dry scholasticism and theology. This book couldn’t be further from dry. It reads with the language of an intellectual giving voice to the preaching of a pentecostal apostle. He envisions the Scriptural reaction to the Empire/current dominant regime…he traces the continuity of how God’s people always respond the culture of competition and competence…guess how (and I hate to spoil it)…as dreamers…as believers in a better reality…as artists and poets and suffering grieving lovers…as a compassionate people–which the empire can never co-opt! Brilliant! Brilliant!
Number 4: God’s Goal: Christ As All in All by Manfred Haller–There was a time when this would have dominated this list…it is still incredibly good; striking a tension between visionary Christology and prophetic criticism of current religious practices. Some of the most memorable quotes I know ring from this tome. Good reading…I used to buy extra copies and hand them out to friends…that good–really.
Number 3: Simply Christian by NT Wright–If I could buy a book for all my friends and say “read this…you will glimpse the heart of Christianity and rediscover what it means to be an apprentice to Jesus” it would be this one…sadly I’m too broke to buy one for all them…This book is theology at it’s best, shattering myths, crystalizing the discovery of God as He is and always shall be. It digs into the my heart and calls me onward and upward.
Number 2: Jesus Plan for a New World by Richard Rohr–When I saw the title I really knew I needed to read it…I knew it would change my reality. It did. It has. Rohr invites us into a contextualized understanding of the revolutionary Jesus who confronts the dominant regime of his day and longs to confront ours as well. The kingdom is sought first and only…it is taken by violence and we are to do violence (to the self life) in order to secure its presence…however it is a new sort of kingdom–devoid of competition and posturing, power and pretensions, where peace rules the day. I wish I could say it was in my library now but I loaned it to a friend who decided that rather than wait to get his own copy he would mark up and keep mine… ) It’s all good…I’m just glad to share the wealth of this one.
Number 1: The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an ordinary radical by Shane Claiborne–As my wife said simply: “It’s a book about love”…really I don’t very many descriptions about this book. It was an extremely quick (page turning) read…and it left me with hazy visions and shadowy impressions–like a half blind man seeing men moving as trees…strange though–it had broken my numbness. I was left blubbering, over and over…I would sit next to my wife in bed and just sob…Simple stories–I can’t really even remember their point…except love…love…To me, this book is the must read of every Western Christian…I pray more than anything that it simply awakens our heart to the reality: “that a new world is necessary, possible, and already here”.