Book Recommendations?

bookshelfI get emails —

Dear Jay,

I was hoping that you might have a few moments to help a young preacher find some good books. I am trying to build my library with some of the greatest books available; the books you consider to be MUST reads for the growing Christian. Would you be so kind to list 10 of your favorite classic spiritual books and 10 of your favorite contemporary spiritual books? I am interested in a variety of topics (missiology, leadership, preaching/public speaking, spiritual formation, the cross/atonement, and grace). My goal is simply to increase my knowledge and love for the Lord. I would greatly appreciate your help. I understand if you don’t have the time to reply. Thank you, brother.

I’m posting this because there are so many excellent books. I’ve not read them all, and I’ve forgotten some pretty good ones, I’m sure. So I figured the readers would have some excellent recommendations to share.

Here’s a list I put together in 2012: .

These are from 2015:

And don’t forget to check the comments.

So …

You might want to download my ebooks. The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace was published over 20 years ago, and I just got a note that a reader is leading a small group class based on it. These aren’t among the greatest books ever written, but they address very real concerns that any Church of Christ minister will confront often — in terms designed to speak to those of us steeped in the Church of Christ tradition.

I have a zillion leadership books. The best are Five Dysfunctions of Team and The Advantage, both by Patrick Lencioni. If you serve on a committee (that is, if you go to church), these are the best. Lots of overlap, but you need both.

Mission is really important to my personal theology, but most books don’t really hold up over time. You do better to subscribe to Ed Stetzer’s blog and read back issues. And Scot McKnight’s Kingdom Conspiracy — head and shoulders over the competition.

Got nothing on preaching/public speaking.

Spiritual formation has become so watered down as to be meaningless in regular church conversation. The “minister of spiritual formation” does adult ed and small groups. To escape the pointlessness, read Gorman’s Inhabiting the Cruciform God and chapter 7 of Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus.

On atonement, the best lesson I ever heard is from Ray Vander Laan, and the best source is my recent series on atonement, since he hasn’t written a book. You should also listen to his mp3s. I cannot adequately express how much you’ll enjoy and benefit from these.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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6 Responses to Book Recommendations?

  1. Ray Downen says:

    I’d think everyone should recommend my RAISED INTO NEW LIFE for anyone who wants to understand the Christian world today. It’s available from in a beautifully bound version and from me as a stapled booklet. PB-Z01 is my key for the volume at my web site.

  2. Mark says:

    Thom Rainer over on his blog addressed this question recently.

    Definitely read the comments on this post especially by Fr. Dustin on the ancient literature.

  3. JohnF says:

    To understand the background of the cofc and its’ various permutations, it would be best to find a copy of Homer Hailey’s “Attitudes and Consequences” It is a relevant to anything written about the application of a given hermeneutic.

    The more recent “narrative” hermeneutic an “overarching” message but (what I have seen or read to date — I’m willing to listen) that is largely seen in the shadows of scripture. The “undoing” of the curse in Genesis in “this time” has a strange lack of scriptural basis that I have seen. It would be good to have a similar “book” to consider that viewpoint (and yes, I have read Ohlbricht’s “My Life w/ Scripture in the Churches of Christ”)

  4. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    I really have to disagree with your assertion that the “narrative” hermeneutic is either new or found in the shadows of scripture. It goes back at least to Second Temple period Jewish literature. I would say back at least to Isaiah and the Psalms before that.

    Here are some guideposts —

    1. The NT passages on “new creation” and “image” and “likeness” verses. Pull out a concordance and read them all — recognizing that they are all references to Gen 1. Notice how these passages both look back to Gen 1-2 and ahead to the Eschaton.

    2. Rom 8 regarding the creation groaning for its redemption — again, a clear reference back to Gen 1 – 3 and a look ahead to the Eschaton.

    3. Rev 21 – 22’s many references back to the Garden of Eden, the tree of life, the dwelling of God with man, the end of the curse — all clear allusions to Gen 1 – 3.

    So that gets you just a beginning of the NT references that tell us that this age will come full circle, restoring something like Eden and people to God’s image and likeness — except better.

    Then look at the Holy Spirit passages from Deu 30:6, coursing through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Joel, and the NT — covering from Torah to the end of time. The Spirit is our down payment, and yet the scriptures look forward to the Spirit going back at least to Moses.

    Look at the “saved by faith” passages from Gen 13 through the end of scripture — a consistent thread that helps hold it all together.

    Consider the “righteousness of God” as taught by the prophets and by Paul — his covenant faithfulness — as a profound, important uniting theme.

    Then think about the Kingdom — which is Israel and yet not Israel. It’s Israel re-imagined, transformed, and fulfilled. Read Daniel’s prophecies about the Kingdom. Isaiah’s prophecy of ‘Your God reigns” — pointing to the Eschaton.

    Read the banquet passages from Exo 24 to Isaiah to the parables of Jesus to the wedding feast of the Lamb and the Bride in the Rev.

    So I didn’t get it from a book other than the Bible. But there are plenty of books that make the point, including Scot McKnight’s The King Jesus Gospel and Walton’s Covenant:

    And I’ve covered all this in a series of series last summer, trying to tie all this into a single package. See How to Study the Bible, the Salvation of the Jews, and the Salvation of the Gentiles from mid-2015.

    PS — While I know I’m not supposed to say this, I didn’t get that much out of Olbricht’s book either.

  5. Adsm Legler says:

    They Like Jesus but Not the Church by Dan Kimball

  6. Nick Gill says:

    The Mission of God by Christopher JH Wright has been essential for me in being drawn into the missional theology of the Bible.

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