Books That Will Last

A friend once asked me a very good question: which books have you recently read that you think will still be read many years from now?  Some Christian books published in the last ten years or so will pretty much be lost in the vast Christian library, while others will continue to be checked out and read ten, twenty, and fifty plus years from now.  So which books on my shelves, published in the last ten years or so, will still be used in the future?

This is a good topic for sure.  In fact, in the past year or so I’ve quit reading a lot of the trendy Christian books that are written for the Gen-X and Gen-Y culture.  I’ve tried to mostly read books I think will be helpful many years from now.  So what follows is a preliminary list (notes: the list is in no particular order, and I’ve limited it to books aimed at a larger audience.  I have quite a few very technical and specific books that will stand the test of time, but for this list I’m just focusing on those written for all kinds of people).

Also, I know this attempt is somewhat subjective (and difficult!), so I invite you to add other books you think will stand the test of time.   Look on your bookshelves and ask yourself the question: which of these books will Christians be reading fifty or more years from now?  How about a hundred or more?

 Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillenialism.  This book has already been through at least one printing and one recent update, and has helped many Christians understand amillenialism from a biblical and Reformed perspective.  I doubt it will go away soon – and I hope it will continue to benefit the church years from now.

  Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life and The Discipline of Grace. To be honest, I think a handful of Bridges’ books will stand the test of time; I had a hard time choosing one or two.  Bridges’ material is pastoral, biblical, and “translatable” to many cultures, age-groups, and languages.

 Carl Trueman, The Creedal Imperative.  Since creeds/confessions have been increasingly attacked, this book will still be needed in the future.  Americans most likely aren’t going to become more willing to adopt creeds/confessions, and based on trends for the past 50 years or so, confessional churches in the future will need resources like this book to stay confessional.

 The Genius of Luther’s Theology by Robert Kolb and Charles Arand.  This is one of the best summaries of Luther’s theology that I have read.  I have read much of Luther himself, and I must say this book is faithful to Luther’s thought.  Luther isn’t going away (thankfully!).

 Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy.  It’s not likely that the Bauer/Ehrman thesis will soon disappear; this book will be relevant in the years to come as the Christian church continues to wrestle with the formation of the NT canon.  Also worth mentioning is Kruger’s Canon Revisited.

 Michael Horton, The Christian Faith.  Though it isn’t my favorite systematic theology, it is an outstanding summary of Christian doctrine from a solid Reformed perspective.  I can easily see this on many Christians’ bookshelves in 50 years or more.  I’m sure that as long as I’m able to study, I’ll be using and recommending it often.

(I also believe that certain books by R.C. Sproul, J. I. Packer, Don Carson, and Os Guinness will stand the test of time.  I didn’t list them here b/c there were too many – and some were published years ago.)

I’ve looked at my shelves several times and I’ll have to stick with this list for now – I was being conservative on purpose.  Maybe someday I’ll do this again in a more specific way – for example, list the books by category (counseling, biblical studies, historical theology, etc.).  Either way, I’m looking forward to your comments!

shane lems
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)
hammond wi

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7 comments on “Books That Will Last

  1. Talk about standing the test of time: “Christianity and Liberalism” by J. Gresham Machen (1923), a book just as relevant now as it was 90 years ago.

  2. Dan York says:

    Shane, I would be interested in seeing your “very technical and specific” list in another post. Hope all is well!

  3. D Wallace says:

    Nice list, thanks.

    All but the Luther book are in my library or on my Amazon wish list, just put that one on.

    Lists for reference works, commentaries, software, and sites might be helpful at some point.

  4. Chuck says:

    Hi Shane- This list is a great idea. I would add two suggestions:

    1. Martin Luther’s 1535 Lectures on Galatians 1-4, Vol. 26 in Luther’s Works. Simply timeless.
    2. Herman Bavinck’s 4 volume Reformed Dogmatics. It’s incredible.

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys. Great suggestions; my list would have been a lot (lot!) longer if I was including books published more than 10 or 15 years ago. To keep it short, I was just listing books I have read that were published in the last 10 years or so.

    But those books that have been around for awhile – Machen, Bavinck – and much longer Luther and such – those will be around years from now for sure.

    Thanks again!
    shane

    • Chuck says:

      Oops! I am sorry I did not read your original post more carefully re: the 10-15 year range! :)

      I hope I can give some more thought to recent books. God bless,

      CF

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