I love recommending books. I feel like I’m doing it all the time.
I think it’s because books mean so much to me. I find so much value and personal growth in books.
I think when you experience something amazing, it’s hard not to share it.
That’s why I love recommending books. These books are beautiful, powerful, and life changing.
They’ve impacted me tremendously, and accordingly, I highly recommend them to you.
Author Robert Farrar Capon
There are three books from Robert Capon I recommend to you. Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace, The Mystery of Christ, and Why We Don’t Get It, and his parables trilogy- Kingdom, Grace, Judgement: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus.
But before I get into each book and why I recommend them, let me say a few words about Robert. Robert Farrar Capon just recently passed away (September 2013). He is one of my favorite authors. I’ve only started reading his books about a year and a half ago, but it has been enough for me to devour now 5 of his books.
His works have astonished my heart with the outrage of Grace. I hope they do the same for you.
Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace
When I first read Between Noon and Three, I was shocked. I think it’s written to that end. Robert Capon tells the story of an affair, and in doing so he uses the characters to brilliantly stand in for the great romance of Grace, law, God, and the world.
Between Noon and Three is a great introduction into Capon, as well as a fantastic introduction into the outrageousness of Grace. I found myself frustrated with this book at first, but after I finished it I had an “Ah-ha” moment. I got it. It changed me along the way.
Capon writes with such flare and passion. He quickly distinguishes himself as a unique author who demands your attention.
There are hundreds of great quote from this book. But I will share one of my favorites:
Grace is the celebration of life, relentlessly hounding all the non-celebrants in the world. It is a floating, cosmic bash shouting its way through the streets of the universe, flinging the sweetness of its cassations to every window, pounding at every door in a hilarity beyond all liking and happening, until the prodigals come out at last and dance, and the elder brothers finally take their fingers out of their ears.
The Mystery of Christ .. and Why We Don’t Get It
In the Mystery of Christ, Robert Capon presents a great case for the Grace of God , and the catholic mystery of Christ’s work on the cross. He argues that the Gospel is not a transaction where we do something to earn salvation. Instead, it’s all about Grace.
The way in which Capon presents his ideas here is unique. He alternates chapters between counseling sessions, and discussion times (with imaginary critics). It makes for a very interesting read. It may also be very challenging for many. As with all of Capon’s writtings, the emphasis is on the outrageous grace of God in Jesus. That, for whatever reason, seems to offend people. If you’re one of those people, this book may not be for you.
But if you would like to see what makes Grace so amazing, I whole heartedly recommend The Mystery of Christ. Here’s a great quote from the book:
We are accepted in the Beloved, because of Jesus only, not because of anything we do.
The parable trilogy is by far Robert Capon’s most extensive work. He goes in depth into each parable, breaking them up into three categories. Parables of the Kingdom, parables of Grace, and parables of Judgement. In each book he goes over the major themes of each type of parable, as well as why he has placed them into these three sections.
If you want to look at the parables in a new fresh way, very unlike what you’ve ever heard before, then you will enjoy this work.
I grew up in the Church my whole life, and so I have heard just about every sermon you can hear about the parables. But Robert Capon blows them all out of the water with this work. He really did his homework on this one, and shows it. Using a great wealth of knowledge in the original language, he takes you on a journey into the life of Jesus.
Robert Capon makes the parables come alive. To anyone who’s ever found an un-satisfaction with how you currently understand the parables, this book is for you. It’s meaty, and thorough. But scandalously good. Here’s a great quote:
What role have I left for religion? None. And I have left none because the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ leaves none. Christianity is not a religion; it is the announcement of the end of religion.
Religion consists of all the things (believing, behaving, worshiping, sacrificing) the human race has ever thought it had to do to get right with God. About those things, Christianity has only two comments to make. The first is that none of them ever had the least chance of doing the trick: the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins (see the Epistle to the Hebrews) and no effort of ours to keep the law of God can ever finally succeed (see the Epistle to the Romans). The second is that everything religion tried (and failed) to do has been perfectly done, once and for all, by Jesus in his death and resurrection. For Christians, therefore, the entire religion shop has been closed, boarded up, and forgotten. The church is not in the religion business. It never has been and it never will be, in spite of all the ecclesiastical turkeys through two thousand years who have acted as if religion was their stock in trade. The church, instead, is in the Gospel-proclaiming business. It is not here to bring the world the bad news that God will think kindly about us only after we have gone through certain creedal, liturgical and ethical wickets; it is here to bring the world the Good News that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” It is here, in short, for no religious purpose at all, only to announce the Gospel of free grace.
Author John Crowder
I’m going to recommend two books from John. Cosmos Reborn: Happy Theology on the New Creation, and Mystical Union. But first, let me say something about John.
John Crowder is not your typical author, teacher or speaker. He is unique. He makes lots and lots of people mad.
A simple google search would be enough to hear all the negative things people like to say about John and his ministry.
So let me be a voice of defense for a moment. John Crower, and the message he has shared all over the world, has changed my life. Not just in little ways, but possibly in more ways than anyone here. I first learned about Robert Capon from John, I first had an introduction to the outrageous Grace of God from John, and ultimately I first came encountered the beauty of the Good News through John’s ministry.
I can personally attest to the impact of John Crowder. So before you write him of as just another heretic, give him a chance. I recommend not only his books, but his ministry. Go watch him preach, or check out his youtube videos. The message of Grace he preaches changed my life.
Cosmos Reborn: Happy Theology on the New Creation
Cosmos Reborn is my favorite book from John. It’s a great introduction into Trinitarian Theology. He does a great job at refuting some commonly held beliefs that have been held as truth for far too long. It’s a fast paced read, and yet still extremely in depth.
John unpacks some seriously joyful truths in this book. I really enjoyed how much He uses a wide range of historical saints and church fathers to show that this message is deeply rooted in church history.
You may find it challenging, and occasionally hard to swallow- because this is not your average evangelical book- but you may very well find yourself laughing hilariously in the delight of the gospel! John truly recaptures the heart of the good news.
It’s theologically stretching, but rewarding. Here’s a great quote:
The Gospel is the divine laughter at the problem of the ages that was solved before it ever began. The Gospel is a joke. Luther said it is nothing less than laughter and joy. Said Robert Capon, when asked God’s whole point in the Gospel .. it’s fun.
I first read Mystical Union four year ago. It wrecked me. I had never heard such a beautiful truth. I’m not a sinner? I’m in union with Christ? These truths hit my heart, and revolutionized my life.
Mystical Union is all about the Gospel. John says it’s “stuff they never told you about the finished work of the cross”.
John explores one of my favorite delights of the Gospel with this book: Union. Our Union with Christ is one of the most beautiful truths of the Gospel. Paul’s favorite phrase, “in Christ” is the heart of this message.
Mystical Union is a great book for the burnt-out, religion-sick Christian. If you want a refreshing message. This books for you. Here’s a great quote:
There is a reason that the gospel was first called “good news.” It is a gloriously happy message of effortless union with God. It comes as an utter shock and outrage to the depressive human willpower that is common to religion.
Author Bill Johnson
What can be said about Bill Johnson? Of all the Authors I present here, Bill’s life is one of the most inspiring.
I had the privilege of studying at Bill’s school in Redding, California for two years. During that time I was amazed at how genuine, and virtuous Bill is. His character is flawless, and inspiring.
Bill Johnson has been called a heretic by many of his critics. (actually just about every author I talk about in this post has been labeled a heretic before. Heck, even I have.)
Bill Johnson inspires me with his integrity through it all. When his own cities newspaper publicly criticizes his church, or when other local churches hold anti-Bethel meetings, Bill responds with incredible grace and integrity.
He is an inspiration of character, and love for God. I have met very few people with more integrity, honor, and passion for the Lord than Bill.
Strengthening Yourself in The Lord
Strengthening Yourself in The Lord is one of my favorites from Bill. It’s practical, and essential to the life of faith.
It’s all about keeping yourself encouraged in God. Filled with practical advice this book is a great encouragement. Here’s a few great quotes:
Some say it’s hypocritical to do something you don’t feel like doing. I think it’s hypocritical to do only what I feel like doing and call myself a believing believer. Right actions release right emotions and right thinking.
I can’t afford to have thoughts in my head about me that God doesn’t have in His. It’s impossible to be consistently effective in fulfilling His purposes unless I am continually training my mind to think of myself according to what God says about me.
Dreaming With God
I was taught that I had to have a direct call from God to know what I’m supposed to do. I can’t figure it out myself, I have to wait for God to sovereignly tell me.
Until I realized, through the help of this book, that me being me is the divine calling of God. God doesn’t create us to deny our passions and desires in an effort to serve Him. God give us passions and desires so that we can serve Him with them.
No matter what it is you love, it’s also what God created you for. I recommend this book to anyone who’s ever wondered, “what am I supposed to do with my life”. Here’s a great quote:
We’ve been given the capacity to dream and, more importantly, to dream with God. Many believers discount their desires, automatically trying to get rid of everything they want in order to prove their surrender to God.
The Happy Gospel is one of my all time favorite books. Benjamin Dunn does a great job at simply, and joyously presenting the Good News.
This book was an introduction for me into all the goodies of the Gospel.
Benjamin Dunn in this book presents the Gospel in it’s pure form. When I first read this book it revolutionized everything I thought I knew about the Gospel.
I have read, and re-read this book many times, and I thoroughly enjoy it. I highly recommend it. Here’s a great quote:
When the sweet truth of the Gospel arrests our hearts, we set sail on an endless ocean of bliss. The measuring rod of comparison is tossed overboard. The storms of un-fulfillment and disappointment disintegrate into nothing. No longer let down by the lack of seeing the miraculous, we are absorbed in a gaze at The Miracle– Christ. Heaven becomes the wind in our sails and signs and wonders ripple endlessly behind us. We sing the melody of faith endlessly and joyously, like a drunken sailor singing after having too much rum.
This book brought me to tears. When I first read this short book, I found myself crying as I was struck with the beauty of the Gospel. As I read about how Jesus has undone the fall of Adam by taking it upon Himself and crucifying it, I couldn’t help myself but to praise God for His goodness.
This book is hard hitting, and powerful. It revolutionized everything I thought I knew about the Gospel
C. Baxter Kruger studied under the brilliant theologian T.F. Torrence, and in this book He serves up a great introduction to the theology of Torrence.
For a theologian, C. Baxter Kruger writes with passion, and simplicity. It’s far from being “better than” or “intellectually elite” as most theology tends to be. Jesus and The Undoing of Adam is simple, hard hitting, and life changing. Here’s a great quote:
The Gospel is the good news of what became of the Son of God, and of what became of us in Him. It is the news that Adam and all of us were crucified with Christ, dead and buried, and on the third day Adam and all of us were quickened with new life and raised with Jesus, and then lifted up to the Father’s right hand in Jesus’ ascension and seated with Christ. … The death of Jesus Christ was part of a seamless movement in which the Triune God laid hold of the human race and decisively and sovereignly altered its very existence, cleansing it of all alienation, quickening it with new life, and lifting it up into union with the Father, Son and Spirit. It is finished.
On The Incarnation by St. Athanasius
Written in 300 A.D., by early church father St. Athanasius, On The Incarnation is a classic of the Christian faith, and should be read by everyone who professes Christ.
St. Athanasius is considered one of the most influential early eastern theologians. (To whom the western counterpart is the well known, western Augustine)
On The Incarnation is a classic work, and has been widely influential. It is left it’s mark on many, including: C.S. Lewis, Robert Capon, C. Baxter Kruger, T.F. Torrence, Karl Barth, and more.
St. Athanasius takes an apologetic approach in defending the incarnation of The Word of God. The work is brilliant, and essential for understanding how the early church Fathers understood incarnation, and Christ. Here’s a great quote:
He, the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognised as finally annulled. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat.
Steve Backlund is a hero of mine. He has changed the way I think, and imparted to me life changing, kingdom mindsets.
He has many books that I could recommend, but the one that impacted me the most was Victorious Mindsets.
I read Steve Backlund’s books as devotionals, although you can read them however you’d like. They are short, power packed books. Each snippet takes only 2-3 minutes to read. I never leave one of Steve’s books without feeling encouraged, hopeful, and happy.
I recommend all of Steve’s books, as well as his ministry Igniting Hope. Here are a few of my favorite declarations from this book:
I do small things in a great way.
I am called of God.
I live to plant into the future.
The Great Divorce by CS Lewis
C.S. Lewis plainly needs know introduction. He is arguably one of the most influential Christian writers of the modern era.
Although I must confess, I have not read much of his non-fiction works. I am a huge fan of the fiction books of C.S. Lewis.
The Great Divorce technically could be considered fiction. But I consider it non-fiction because it is sort of a mixture. It is a story, but it is also theologically inclined.
The Great Divorce brings a brilliant insight into heaven and hell. It’s a great book, and one that I recommend for your enjoyment. Here’s a great quote:
Redeemed humanity is still young, is has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe to life.
Entire Sanctification by Adam Clarke
One of the great revelations that the Gospel presents is the truth that we are no longer sinners, we are saints. Christ changed our nature, making us new creation.
We are saints, not sinners.
In this short book by renowned bible scholar Adam Clarke, he dives into that very subject.
This book is tremendously simple, and insightful. He makes a clear argument against the sin nature, and the idea that we are not saved from sin until we die.
It’s a short read, but fundamental for anyone who’s interested in diving into the idea of entire sanctification. Here’s a great quote:
They hold out death as the complete deliverer from all corruption, and the final destroyer of sin, as if it were revealed in every page of the Bible! Whereas, there is not one passage in the sacred volume that says any such thing. Were this true, then death, far from being the last enemy, would be the last and best friend, and the greatest of all deliverers: for if the last remains of all the indwelling sin of all believers is to be destroyed by death, (and a fearful mass this will make,) then death, that removes it, must be the highest benefactor of mankind. The truth is, he is neither the cause nor the means of its destruction. It is the blood of Jesus alone that cleanseth from all unrighteousness.
What do you recommend?
I would love to hear your recommendations! Have you read anything off this list? What books would you add? Respond below!
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