Christian Book Reviews, Resources,

Book Lists, Recommended Books on Spirituality, Classic and Controversial Books   

 " The man who does not read has no advantage over the person who can

not read."   --- Mark Twain

. . . . So much material is published. What to read? Here are a few suggestions with comments. I have grouped the books by categories.  Pay attention to the categories to fully understand what these books are. When I say "Challenging to Conventional Thought," I mean it.

. . . .Video Clip on the Bible at bottom of page.


Kirk Byron Jones Addicted to Hurray: Spiritual Strategies for Slowing Down, Judson Press, Valley Forge, Pa, 2003


photo book A Generous Orthodoxy


Brian McLaren  "A Generous Orthodoxy:  Why I am a missional, evangelical + post/protestant +liberal/conservative . . . unfinished Christian"

   McLaren claims every label and group in his long, long title.  He represents faith beyond labels, a generous spirit that can find something right about nearly everyone.  Yet, this is not greeting card, thin soup spirituality.  Brian McLaren sincerely and seriously thinks in our narrow groups we've often missed out on a larger and more generous orthodoxy of the greater Christian faith. This book is for thinkers, but is well worth your time. 

Philip Yancey   "What's So Amazing About Grace"

This book is a jewel of inspiration by a gifted writer.  Grace is the intense focus of this book, and Yancey well makes the case that grace is amazing. With great insight and incredible incidents he makes plain the dry, deadness of religion without grace. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is at the core of this amazing book. 

Profound, Insightful, Contemporary Intellect and Faith

        Here are works of contemporary authors that write with profound insight with a weight of intellect.

            Ronald Rolheiser is President of Oblate School of Theology.  He has been a popular columnist for The Catholic Herald.  He is a specialist in spirituality and systematic theology.   If you have a staid, tired, narrow view of Catholic spirituality, read Rolheiser.  If you need a personal blessing of depth in faith, read Rolheiser.  If you get tired of reading protestant writers or are picking the wrong books protestants to read , then read Rolheiser.  He belongs to the religious order, Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He is a great help to all who seek greater faith, and spiritual depth.   

            Ronald Rolheiser  "Against An Infinite Horizon:  The Finger of God In Our Everyday Lives"  Crossroads Publishing Company, New York.

        Yes, this book is about God in everyday life -- friendship, loneliness, disappointment, marriage, church, sexuality, honesty and humility..  Full of faith and insight this book is well worth the effort to find. 

          Ronald Rolheiser  "Forgotten Among the Lilies:  Learning To Love Beyond Our Fears."  Doubleday, New York, 2005.

     Highly readable, Rolheiser points the way toward sacred living and how to move past our fears, anxieties and guilt. Here is the basic Christian faith well presented in terms of the practicalities of everyday life.  This jewel of a book has blessed me.

                                      Henri Nouwen

     Henri Nouwen is in a class by himself.  He is struggler, a very human man, and

a faithful priest.  In important ways he has changed the way Christian ministry is understood and practiced by many Protestants and Catholics today.  A prolific writer he wrote 44 or 45 books, and has continued to be published after his death through found manuscripts and tapes. 

      A fine guide to Henri Nouwen is                   Wil Hernandez, PhD, a protestant scholar who teaches and leads photo of will hernandez is blue shirt , big smileretreats, workshops for both Catholics book covers author Wil Hernandez and Protestants, He has authored two quality guides to Nouwen's life and spirituality.  Wil Hernandez is with The Nouwen Legacy.

       Wil Hernandez  "Henri Nouwen and Soul Care" New Yor,/Mahwah, N.J., Paulist Press, 2008.

     Here is a fine introduction and integration of Nouwen's insights into the care of souls.  Dr. Hernandez considers what it means to be soul friend, soul guide and the work of spiritual direction.  He integrates key Nouwen themes of 'being the beloved of God,' self care, spiritual journey, and the ways we use self/person and soul in ministry. 

      Wil Hernandez "Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Imperfection'  New York/Mahwah, N.J., Paulist Press, 2006.

      In this thoughtful guide, Hernandez covers the nature of an integrated journey -- a journey inward, outward and upward, He speaks at length of the spirituality of imperfection and of Nouwen as the perfect example of imperfection.  He covers Nouwen's struggles;  His striving for balance and home.  Hernandez explains Nouwen as the wounded healer.  Here is a fine overall view of Henri Nouwen.

High Quality Catholic Spirituality

   Henri Nouwen  "In The Name Of Jesus:  Reflections on Christian Leadership"

    Crossroad Publishing Company

   Yes, it is easy to get off track while trying to do good in Jesus name. The key pitfalls of temptations of Christian leadership.  The temptations to be relevant, spectaular, and powerful are great.  Nouwen covers the solutions found in quiet contemplation, prayer and faith. 

   Henri Nouwen  'The Wounded Healer'

        Even as our wounds and scars become part of our humanity, so they can also be part of our empowerment to serve others.  Ministers and priests and religious are more willing to be human and open because of this concept.

   Henri Houwen  "The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming"

        A memorable exploration of the parable of Jesus and Rembrandt's painting "The Return of the Prodigal Son."  Nouwen speaks of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation in a moving personal meditation that overcomes strive, anger, jealousy and loneliness. 


Jewels of Inspiration and Insight



Harold Kushnew   "Who Needs God"

A thoughtful rabbi makes the case that we all need God.  This book is profound. 

Joshua Loth Liebman  "Peace of Mind"

Deeper than pop psychology, this rabbi writes with clear insight into the human condition.  He makes the case for courage, calm, and mature living and faith. This classic may be harder to find.
Robert Schanse   "Five Practices of Fruitful Churches"

A Methodist Bishop explains the best practices of  effective congregational.  So truthful, that you will be sure he has been attending your congregation.  This Bishop knows what's wrong and what can be wrong with churches. 

While growing up in Del Rio, Texas Robert Schanse and I attended First United Methodist Church with his brother John Schanse.  We were both kids. 

Try not to laugh when reading this book, you're sides will hurt. The truth can be painful.  Is this the most positive book published about congregational renewal?, I think it may well be. It is full of faith and hope, but still a powerful challenge to apathy and half-a-sleep congregations.

Ideals Company  The Ideals Treasury of Prayer

Both beautiful and a inspirational short anthology of prayer through the ages, this book is a jewel.

General Reading and Poetry




Billy Collins "Picnic Lightening"

Modern American poet writes prose poems.  If you don't know what a prose poem is, read Billy Collins.

Ben Carson, M.D. "Take The Risk"

Part autobiography of a brain surgeon, and part essay on risk taking, this book challenges "play it safe" strategies.  Dr. Carson writes as a testimony of God's presence in his life.  

Classics For Intellectuals and Deep Thinkers


William James "The Varieties of Religious

The classic in the psychology of religion, "The Varieties of Religious Experience" has never been equaled. So few people have read this great book, but it is well worth the time.  Only a little general knowledge of psychology is needed in a few places.  So much about faith and personality and people's real life experiences is here.  You will understand everything from the news, to history, to religion better after you read this towering classic work.

One major big box bookstore chain sells it in paperback for less than nine dollars in 2007!

Gerhard Von Rad "God At Work In Israel"

Read this classic work and you will understand much of the Old Testament.  It is short and easy to read and understand.

Adolf Harnack  "What Is Christianity"

A great, scholarly classic that pulls together history, culture, philosophy and human hopes in a compact package. 

It is hard to find, but well worth the search.

Miguel De Unamuno "The Tragic Sense of Life"

This learned Spanish philosopher and believer makes the case that "the heart has reasons, the head knows nothing of."  If you think intellectual means against depth and emotion in religion, read this classic.

The Spanish title is "Del Sentimiento Tragico De La Vida."   This profound book of life and faith is
from the perspective of a great Spanish Catholic philosopher. It is helpful to have some knowledge of philosophy and theology to fully appreciate this book.

Challenging To Conventional Thought-- See special note below.

Rob Bell "Love Wins" Controversial new book challenges traditional views on salvation, heaven and hell. Bell is a gifted writer and in his engaging style takes on the topics of hell and the scope of salvation. The book appears to be advocating some form of universalism or near universalism. Bell attacks traditional understanding of salvation and lostness and hell. His lyrical, soaring rhetoric engages the reader, but clarity of thought is, at times, missing. After reading the book, I am unsure as to what exactly Bell's belief is. Is he a universalists believing all persons reach heaven and peace wih God eventually? Or is his exact position something less than universalism?

With plenty of Scriptures and theological reasoning Bell presses his case. He is certainly against the traditional interpretations of God's judgement, lostness and hell. Bell writes and reasons as an evangelical Christian.

More straight foward and plain is

Gulley and Mulholland's book If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person. Unlike Rob Bell's book Love Wins Gulley and Mulholland clearly advocate universalism.

.. .. .. . . . . . . .Special Note of Disagreement

Rob Bell and Gulley are included because these books have attracted wide attention. I personally do not agree with their main point which is that there is no judgment or wrath in God.

Bell works primarily off of a detailed word study of "hell." Most of what he says is accurate as a word study, and has been widely known for a hundred years or more by educated ministers. But there are good reasons that few have adopted this "no judgment, no wrath' viewpoint.

. . . . First, most of what Jesus said about judgment is in the parables of Jesus and does not use the word "hell." Still a judgment is clearly taught.

. . . . .Second, Bell and Gulley reason as if love and a loving redemption of humankind is the one and only purpose of God. While love and redemption are certainly large aims of the heart of God, are these the only aims? Most have thought that God's purposes include: Love and redemption, Justice, and Glory.

. . . . Justice is large with God. So Amos calls out, "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream," Fraud, oppression, crocked dealing of all kinds is condemned. These are the actions that God opposes. In Judgment God destroys these things. They are unethical and contrary to the nature and will of God.

. . . . Glory is the third great purpose of God. That God is great, infinite, the creator of all things, and holy is the main truth. To redemn in love, to right wrongs and render ultimate justice is but part of the purposes God. To show forth his glory and exalt Jesus Christ into his ultimate glory is also part of the purposes of God.

. . . . So for these reasons I can not follow nor agree that God is without judgment. Nor do I agree that God can be understood as simply Love. God is love, and justice, and glory.

. . . . . . More Thoughtful Books on Judgment and Salvation Include:

William Willimon "Who Will Be Saved?" Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN 2008

This is a high quality, mainline view of these issuses by a scholarly Methodist Bishop. "Who will be Saved?" is well worth your time in reading.

Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy "Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology." Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, 2002

Clear and balanced presentation of multiple views on salvation, hell and destiny of those who have never heard the Gospel. If you like to hear the pros and con of several diffenent interpretations, this is the book for you. It is a fair, balanced and accurate presentation with plenty of Scriptures and theological lines of thought well explained. Conservative, traditional views are well presented along with other perspectives.

Charles Jones The View From Mars Hill: Christianity in thee Landscape of World Religions.

Scholarly and solid discussion of world religions in encounter with the Christian faith. Includes both theology and mission history. Author is an Episcopal theologian , a specialist in East Asian religions, and an associate professor in the School or Theology and Religious Studies at tthe Catholic University of America. This book is from a more practical, feet on the ground view of the Christian faith encountering world religions than any of the books above.


Wolfgang Simson  "Houses That Change The World: The Return of the House Churches"

Wolfgang Simson, a zealot for Christ is opposed to organized religion in all the forms you and I see.  So he advocates returning to house churches.  If you can not find this book, try contacting the Dawn movement people in Colorado Springs. 

Is there a bible version I should read?

Feel free to contact us at