This is my recommended reading list. Here you will find a lot of great books that have changed my life in one way or another. There is no recommended order to read them. Simply read the descriptions and grab the ones that jump out to you. (Please note I’m still in the process of building this page sorry if there aren’t full details for every book or if certain sections are incomplete.
Saved From Sacrifice Did God really need to kill Jesus to forgive us? Why is God so bound to the mechanism of sacrifice? Why is God so obsessed with bloodshed? Can’t He forgive freely like He calls us to? This is the book for you if you’ve ever asked these kinds of questions
The Jesus Driven Life I’m frequently asked how does one read the Bible. I believe that until we approach the Bible the way that Jesus did we will never really be able to read it well. This book gives foundational tools in building a hermeneutic (lens through which we read) for which to read the Bible.
Disarming Scripture Why is the Bible so violent? How does the non-violent, gracious Jesus perfectly represent God and yet the Bible also represents God as a very violent and wrathful deity. This book unpacks a different way to look at scripture. A way which disarms it and in turn leaves us with a God who looks like Jesus.
Her Gates Will Never Be Shut This fantastic work by Brad Jersak looks at the history of Hell. For most Christians in the Protestant/Evangelical world they have only ever been told 1/3 of the options on the afterlife. But the truth is the Church has always welcomed a very broad spectrum of views on the afterlife and the Bible is far from black and white on the topic.
A More Christlike God The second book from Brad Jersak to make my booklist. This book is fantastic. Undertaking a huge task to save the notion of a God that looks like Jesus from Christianity’s less than Christ-like portrayal. Brad is a great writer and makes a heavy and complex topic a real joy to read.
Paul: An Apostle’s Journey Campbell is a serious theologian and some consider him to be one of the worlds leading authorities on Paul. He is well known for his dense 1300 page book Deliverance of God. Which is why this book was such a surprise. Weighing in at less than half the pages it covers the life of Paul from pre-salvation to death. It’s a page turner, fun, interesting, very challenging. For anyone who loves the writings of Paul its a must have!
The Shack Suffice to say The Shack is one of my favourite pieces of writing I’ve ever read. I usually try and pick this up every year or two to read and every time I find myself shocked as I realise it still has depth way beyond where I am. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love with a good God even more. Read it if you haven’t before… and if you have, maybe pick it up again.
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment Capon is one of my favourite writers. And actually this is far from my favourite book of his. In fact, I found it a bit hard to read. But it provides some amazing insight into the parables that I’ve not seen matched by many. With a complex communication method like parables there is huge scope for error and reading our own warped pictures of God into them. Capon masterfully helps us see this tendency and gives us much healthier options steeped in love, grace and hope. Relationships
Ho w To Stop The Pain This book shaped my life significantly. When I first went through my divorce my world came crashing down on me. But I realised that while yes, this was a bad situation, the ongoing pain was not linked to my situation, it was linked to me, my beliefs and how I framed my world. I can’t recommend this book enough if you find yourself frequently being hurt by those around you. But it’s not for those who don’t want to change. This book cuts deep.
This is definitely my go to book on how to have healthy relationships. Be it with your kids, your partner, your friends or your enemies. Keep Your Love On This book will change your life if you let it.
Sex, Gender & Sexuality
Unclobber In this gracious, well argued and often funny book Martin outlines why he believes it is ok as a Christian to be affirming of homosexuality. It is a very well written piece and a great supplement to anyone doing serious study on this topic.
People To Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just An Issue Without a doubt my favourite book presenting an argument against affirming homosexuality. Sprinkle does an excellent job extending grace and love. As well as really diving into the issues rather than just screaming “the Bible says…” as many people do when presenting this side of the equation. Well worth a read if you are looking to do serious well rounded study on what the Bible says on the topic of homosexuality.
Gender Outlaw Widely considered to be the gold standard book on gender. It’s not a Christian book but frankly if you want to learn about gender and get your head around it’s complex nuances I’m not sure reading a Christian book is the best route to go. This book is not for the faint of heart, it’s raw, vulnerable, rude, racy and very graphic. But it does an amazing job of outlining what gender is as well as helping humanise a group of people that most in the church tend to alienate.
Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage Coontz is considered the world’s leading expert in the institution of marriage. Ranging back to the beginning of time she tracks one of mankind’s oldest institutions. But be warned we quickly find out that for most of history marriage was not linked to love. Love is a very recent addition to marriage, which surprisingly the Church was the strongest advocates against. A thoroughly engaging book and one that will make you read the Bible very differently when you see the word marriage. Deconstructing
Falling Upward Richard Rohr, everyone’s favourite Catholic right now. With a wisdom that is hard to convey he captures the journey that so many of us go on. What he calls “the second stage of life” it might not happen to all, and may not even be the second stage for some. But its the process of deconstructing our past ideas about who we are, who God is, our place in this world and finding out there is something much much more beautiful going on. For anyone who is feeling a bit lost this is a book well worth picking up.
This A fantastic autobiography from the co-creator of the Liturgists podcast which is a very popular podcast among those deconstructing. Very funny, raw, insightful and probably way too out there for most. Be warned, you might not like where this slippery slope ends :)
Religious Refugees For the last 8yrs I’ve helped people on their D/R journey. Some face it with excitement but most feel like they are dragged kicking and screaming into Hell. Most will lose friends and family. Some even walk away with a form of PTSD called Religious Trauma Syndrome. Walking people through this process is complex to say the least. In fact, often more harm than good is done. What Mark does here therefore is an extraordinary feat. With every turn of the page the reader will feel seen and understood and find grace to take their next steps, whatever that might mean for them. I can safely say I’ll be recommending this book dozens of times a week for a very long time.
Leaving The Fold In this breakthrough book Marlene Winell talks about the very real problem of Religious Trauma Syndrome and how it effects many who decide (or are required) to leave their churches and faiths. It’s a must read if you thing you are dealing with religious trauma.
Spiritual & Psychological Development Models
Integral Christianity A fantastic look at Spiral Dynamics through the lens of Christianity. Tracking how Christianity has evolved over history and where it might be evolving to in the future.
The Gift Of The Jews Cahill is an amazing historian. But not only that he’s funny, interesting and surprising. In this book he explores the history of the Jews, how they came about and ended up shaping much of the way the world is today.
Jesus Through Middle-Eastern Eyes Bailey is a genius at creating a picture of history and transporting you there. In this book he shows through many different examples how having a cultural context can blow wide open different parts of the Gospels. His work on Lukes Parables “Poet and Peasant” is also well worth a read. Biblical Studies
A Reader Grammar for NT Greek A great resource to begin with for anyone who is wanting to learn to read Greek. Make sure you pair this with a good Lexicon – at a push you could probably get by using Strongs if you must.
Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon Far too many Christians don’t have access to a good lexicon. Now that’s not really a problem usually. Except for the fact that people these days have instant google access to something like Strongs. Which is biased and equips readers to make poor translation choices. At the end of the day you need to know Greek Grammar to make good contextual translation choices. But if you aren’t going to learn to read Greek (and I wouldn’t blame you!) at least make sure you are looking up the Greek words in a good lexicon.
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament A fantastic – although dated Bible Dictionary. Be wary you don’t just buy one volume if buying online – this collection comprises of 10 volumes. Be aware that this writer was not aware of much of our recent discoveries of Second Temple Judaism so hold this in tension when reading the brilliant information within.
The History Of The Jewish People In The Age of Jesus Christ An essential resource for any NT scholar. With the discovery of so many documents in the last 100 year our understanding of Second Temple Judaism, (the period of time leading up to and including Jesus’s ministry) has radically changed. Most pastors and teachers are still teaching very out of date information on Judaism in the time of Jesus and this resource will help you build up your knowledge on everything and anything about the Jews and their world in this time period. Please note: It is absolutely essential you buy the revised edition of this as the original does not contain any of this new information I’ve talked about. Deeper Studies
The Deliverance Of God Campbell’s work here is not for the faint of heart (like most of the books in this section) weighing in at over 1300 pages it will take you a percentage of your life to read if you read as slow as me. But it will change everything you know about Romans and potentially the gospel. And for me that’s well worth the time. (His book Paul: An Apostle’s Journey is above and a great read too, much more accessible and fun to read, quite the page turner in fact)
Galatians Considered by many scholars as one of the most important pieces of Biblical scholarship in the last 100 years. Join him as he works his way through Galatians and upends many of our assumptions about Paul, the Gospel and what it is to be a Christian. This is a great resource to walk through in a Bible Study… if you are in a Bible Study full of people who love to read big heavy theological books.