In 2000, Christianity Today asked more than 100 of its contributors and church leaders to nominate the The Top 100 Religious Books of the 20th Century.

Why am I posting a blog entry about a book list that is over five years old? I guess because I’m interested in what people read, and what they think about these books. And I am more interested in what looking at such a list can do to us. It can a) make us realize how we limit our reading to our own little sphere of thought, and read only those we want to agree with; b) it can challenge us to step outside of our reading realm, and be exposed to some other great thinkers; c) it provides us with a good list to measure our own reading as compared with some people who have put some thought into it.

We all have our biases and theology, but check out the list for yourself, and see where you are.

Here is their top 10:


1. C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity
The best case for the essentials of orthodox Christianity in print.
David S. Dockery

2. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Cost of Discipleship
Leaves you wondering why you ever thought complacency or compromise in the Christian life was an option.
Mark Buchanan

3. Karl Barth
Church Dogmatics
Opened a new era in theology in which the Bible, Christ, and saving grace were taken seriously once more.
J. I. Packer

4. J. R. R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings (trilogy)
A classic for children from 9 to 90. Bears constant re-reading.
J. I. Packer

5. John Howard Yoder
The Politics of Jesus
Some 30 years after this book was published, the church has found itself culturally in a more marginal position, and this book is making wider and wider sense.
Rodney Clapp

6. G.K. Chesterton
A rhetorically inventive exposition of the coherence of Christian truth.
David Neff

7. Thomas Merton
The Seven Storey Mountain
A painfully candid story of one Christian soul’s walk with grace and struggle, it has become the mark against which all other spiritual autobiographies must be measured.
Phyllis Tickle

8. Richard Foster
Celebration of Discipline
After Foster finishes each spiritual discipline, you not only know what it is, why it’s important, and how to do it—you want to do it.
Mark Buchanan

9. Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
A treasury of daily devotional readings that has fed the souls of millions of Christians in the twentieth century. Future generations of Christians must continue to draw from this treasury.
Richard J. Mouw

10. Reinhold Niebuhr
Moral Man and Immoral Society
Introduced a breathtakingly insightful, shrewd, and cunning realism about human sin, especially in its social expressions, rooted in biblical theology and a penetrating appraisal of the dark era into which the Western world had entered.
David P. Gushee

How do you fare? Have you read any of these books? If so, do you agree? If you have not, then why do you agree or disagree? It’s a pretty good list. Since you will find Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth and CS Lewis in my left column as being some of the most influential thinkers in my life, I am glad to have them on this list. Scanning down the list I have either read, or partly read, or studied about 60% or more of the books listed. I have a lot of reading still to go but this list is a good start.

Here is the remaining 90 in alphabetical order:

in alphabetical order by author

Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart

Alcoholics Anonymous
(The Big Book of A.A.)

Roland Bainton
Here I Stand

Karl Barth
The Epistle to the Romans

Ernest Becker
The Denial of Death

Robert N. Bellah, ET AL.
Habits of the Heart

Georges Bernanos
The Diary of a Country Priest

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Letters and Papers from Prison

David Bosch
Transforming Mission

Walter Brueggemann
The Prophetic Imagination

Emil Brunner
Truth as Encounter

Albert Camus
The Plague

Edward John Carnell
The Case for Orthodox Christianity

Willa Cather
Death Comes for the Archbishop

Dorothy Day
The Long Loneliness

Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Documents of Vatican II

W. E. B. Dubois
The Souls of Black Folk

T. S. Eliot
Four Quartets

Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man

Jacques Ellul
The Technological Society

Shusaku Endo

Anne Frank
The Diary of Anne Frank

Victor Frankl
Man’s Search for Meaning

Sigmund Freud
Civilization and Its Discontents

The Fundamentals

Langdon Gilkey
Shantung Compound

Carol Gilligan
In a Different Voice

Graham Greene
The Power and the Glory

John Howard Griffin
Black Like Me

Gustavo Gutiérrez
A Theology of Liberation

Philip Paul Hallie
Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed

Stanley Hauerwas
A Community of Character

Václav Havel
Living in Truth

Richard Hays
The Moral Vision of the New Testament

Carl F. H. Henry
God, Revelation, and Authority (six volumes)

John R. Hersey

Abraham Heschel
The Prophets

Aldous Huxley
Brave New World

William James
The Varieties of Religious Experience

Franz Kafka
The Trial

Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Testament of Hope

Thomas S. Kuhn
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird

Aldo Leopold
A Sand County Almanac

C. S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia
(especially The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and The Screwtape Letters

J. Gresham Machen
Christianity and Liberalism

Alasdair C. MacIntyre
After Virtue

Malcolm X and Alex Haley
The Autobiography of Malcolm X

George M. Marsden
Fundamentalism and American Culture

François Mauriac
Viper’s Tangle

Jürgen Moltmann
The Crucified God

Richard John Neuhaus
The Naked Public Square

Lesslie Newbigin
The Gospel in a Pluralist Society

Reinhold Niebuhr
The Nature and Destiny of Man (two volumes)

H. Richard Niebuhr
Christ and Culture

Kathleen Norris
The Cloister Walk

Henri J. M. Nouwen
The Wounded Healer

Anders Nygren
Agape and Eros

Elizabeth O’Connor
Journey Inward, Journey Outward

Flannery O’Connor
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories

Rudolf Otto
The Idea of the Holy

J. I. Packer
Knowing God

Alan Paton
Cry, the Beloved Country

Jaroslav Pelikan
Jesus Through the Centuries

Josef Pieper
The Four Cardinal Virtues

Michael Polanyi
Personal Knowledge

Chaim Potok
The Chosen

Walter Rauschenbusch
Christianity and the Social Crisis

Dorothy L. Sayers
The Mind of the Maker

Albert Schweitzer
The Quest of the Historical Jesus

Nevil Shute
On the Beach

Ronald J. Sider
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger

Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

John R. W. Stott
Basic Christianity

Paul Tournier
The Meaning of Persons

A. W. Tozer
The Pursuit of God

Barbara Tuchman
The Guns of August

Evelyn Underhill

Miroslav Volf
Exclusion and Embrace

Gerhard von Rad
Old Testament Theology

Andrew F. Walls
The Missionary Movement in Christian History

Max Weber
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Simone Weil
Waiting for God

Elie Wiesel

Charles Williams
Descent into Hell

Walter Wink
Engaging the Powers

Philip Yancey
The Jesus I Never Knew