November 6, 2015

Top Ten God Exalting Books

by Jordan Standridge

In light of my article The Dangers of Man-Centered theologyhere are some books to help us fight against our tendency to exalt ourselves and minimize God’s glory. These books have a Theocentric view of the Bible. Some of these I’ve read, others were suggestions from other pastors.

“God’s delight in being God is not sung the way it should be, with wonder and passion, in the worship places of the word. And we are the poorer and weaker for it. My hope and prayer in writing this book is that more and more people would meditate with me on the pleasures of God”

The Knowledge of the Holy by popular evangelical author and Christian mystic A.W. Tozer illuminates God’s attributes—from wisdom, to grace, to mercy—and in doing so, attempts to restore the majesty and wonder of God in the hearts and minds of all Christians. A modern classic of Christian testimony and devotion, The Knowledge of the Holy shows us how we can rejuvenate our prayer life, meditate more reverently, understand God more deeply, and experience God’s presence in our daily lives.

The Pursuit of God is the enduring Christian classic written by renowned pastor and theologian A. W. Tozer. More than 65 years later, the words Tozer penned on a train from Illinois to Texas echo across the decades to resonate with power in the heart of anyone longing for a deeper experience with God. This devotional masterpiece is at once thought-provoking and spirit-enlivening, an invitation to think deeply about your faith even as you come alive to God’s presence surrounding, sustaining and–yes–pursuing you. “This book is a modest attempt,” Tozer wrote, “to aid God’s hungry children so to find Him.” If you are hungry, The Pursuit of God will lead you to the only One who can satisfy the soul.

One of the top 50 books that have shaped evangelicals (Christianity Today, 2006)
Platinum Book Award, Evangelical Christian Publishing Association For over 40 years, J. I. Packer’s classic has been an important tool to help Christians around the world discover the wonder, the glory and the joy of knowing God. Stemming from Packer’s profound theological knowledge, Knowing God brings together two important facets of the Christian faith― knowing about God and also knowing God through the context of a close relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. Written in an engaging and practical tone, this thought-provoking work seeks to transform and enrich the Christian understanding of God.

Discover Afresh the Living Truth of a Foundational Christian Belief The Trinity is a basic teaching of the Christian faith. It defines God’s essence and describes how He relates to us. The Forgotten Trinity is a concise, understandable explanation of what the Trinity is and why it matters. It refutes cultic distortions of God. It shows how a grasp of this significant teaching leads to renewed worship and deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian. And amid today’s emphasis on the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, The Forgotten Trinity is a balanced look at all three persons of the Trinity.

The timeless appeal of this classic book, written by a preacher with a worldwide ministry during the first half of the twentieth century, demonstrates the deep hunger for a saving knowledge of God present in each generation. Arthur Pink sought to give readers not just a theoretical knowledge of God but pointed them toward a personal relationship of yielding to him and living according to his biblical precepts.
Pink’s book explores attributes such as God’s decrees, foreknowledge, sovereignty, holiness, grace, and mercy, among many others, all packaged in a style especially useful for pastors, teachers, and Bible students. Our God who is above all names cannot be found through human searching alone, Pink teaches, but can be known only as he is revealed by the Holy Spirit through his living Word.

The Christian church has a long tradition of systematic theology, that is, studying theology and doctrine organized around fairly standard categories such as the Word of God, redemption, and Jesus Christ. This introduction to systematic theology has several distinctive features: – A strong emphasis on the scriptural basis for each doctrine and teaching – Clear writing, with technical terms kept to a minimum – A contemporary approach, treating subjects of special interest to the church today – A friendly tone, appealing to the emotions and the spirit as well as the intellect – Frequent application to life – Resources for worship with each chapter – Bibliographies with each chapter that cross-reference subjects to a wide range of other systematic theologies.

Puritan theologian John Owen recognized the great need for every believer to understand the triune God. Communion with the Triune God revisits the truth presented by John Owen and challenges all believers to truly recognize and appreciate the ministry that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have in their lives. This work of John Owen encourages Christians to enjoy true communion with each person of the triune God.

Central to God’s character is the quality of holiness. Yet, even so, most people are hard-pressed to define what God’s holiness precisely is. Many preachers today avoid the topic altogether because people today don’t quite know what to do with words like “awe” or “fear.” R. C. Sproul, in this classic work, puts the holiness of God in its proper and central place in the Christian life. He paints an awe-inspiring vision of God that encourages Christian to become holy just as God is holy. Once you encounter the holiness of God, your life will never be the same.

Christianity is the worship of Jesus Christ. If He is who the Bible says He is, and if He did what the Bible says He did, He is worthy of the exclusive, attention and focus pf our lives. Sadly, though, the Son gets crowded out by earthly things. Our hearts grow slack, our love runs cool, our worship is distracted. Even the treadmill of Christian activity can keep us ever unable to focus on the Author and Finisher of the race. We sip at puddles of sin a stone’s throw from the Well of the water of life. Uneclipsing the Son aims at ending all this, bringing you face to face with the Christ of Scripture, the only one who can transform you just by knowing Him. Clear, biblical, compelling, Holland will drive you relentlessly to the conclusion that you must give yourself to the worship of this Jesus or forever stumble in the half-light of spiritual uncertainty and disaffection.

What books would you recommend on this topic?

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is also the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion. You can find his personal blog at surrender.us.
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  • Mr. Mike

    No comments yet? I’m the first? That’s hard to believe. Remove any one from your list and insert the Bible as number one. However, having read most of the books on your list, I’d just make it the Top 11. (Hey, I didn’t take a cheap shot. You threw one right down the middle of the plate. You would have taken a swing, too) Anyway, you provided an outstanding list. Couldn’t agree more.

    • Jordan Standridge

      I agree with you. Someone had to say it.

  • Dan Phillips

    I’m reading Tozer for the first time, after years of hearing him extolled. Actually, my mounting impression is that he may be dangerously off. He seems to be demanding that we demand that God give us some sight, so we don’t need to know God by faith. That plus the types of folks he quotes… concerning.

    A troubled soul hung out at Pyromaniacs for some time before he was booted. He seemed bitten by the Tozer-bug. Sola Scriptura was not for him, he demanded more, more, more (like the song says).

    • Jordan Standridge

      Other than his relationship with his wife this is the first criticism I’ve heard of Tozer, and his theology. I value your perspective and will look into it.

      • Dan Phillips

        That’s a very kind of you. Gordon H. Clark was also quite the critic, but I read that a long time ago.

        I’ve been doing a lot of thinking in recent years about just what expectations the Bible sets for the tenor of our relationship with God. Tozer resonates with me viscerally: I want to be as close to God as I can, as passionate for Him as possible. To know Him.

        But Tozer keeps more or less brushing aside orthodoxy and Scripture and saying we must have more. OK – if he means bare intellectualism, being satisfied with merely holding a set of correct statements about God, I’m right there with him. But the issue is: what does Scripture hold out as the normal desideratum for Christians in knowing our God?

        • Jane Hildebrand

          Dan, I’m not real familiar with Tozer, but I did find this quote that may help clarify some of your concerns with his view of scripture.

          “Tozer himself recognized the confusion he generated by quoting those noted for their Roman Catholic mysticism. He wrote in his own defense, “Some of my friends good-humoredly — and some a little bit severely — have called me a ‘mystic.’ Well I’d like to say this about any mysticism I may suppose to have. If an archangel from heaven were to come, and were to start…telling me, teaching me, and giving me instruction, I’d ask him for the text. I’d say, ‘Where’s it say that in the Bible? I want to know.’ And I would insist that it was according to the scriptures, because I do not believe in any extra-scriptural teachings, nor any anti-scriptural teachings, or any sub-scriptural teachings. I think we ought to put the emphasis where God puts it, and continue to put it there, and to expound the scriptures, and stay by the scriptures. I wouldn’t — no matter if I saw a light above the light of the sun, I’d keep my mouth shut about it ’til I’d checked with Daniel and Revelation and the rest of the scriptures to see if it had any basis in truth….I don’t believe in anything that is unscriptural or that is anti-scripture” (A.W. Tozer, “What Difference Does the Holy Spirit Make?”)

  • Jane Hildebrand

    No disrespect to the above authors, but sometimes I wonder if the reason the church is in such a weak state is partly due to the fact we have so many Christian books to read vs. the Bible. It seems that for every one author who rightly divides the Word, we have a hundred who don’t. And since the average Christian is choosing these books over the Bible, we have biblical illiteracy in a time when we shouldn’t. I heard it said somewhere that if Jesus were here today, He would turn over the tables at the Christian bookstores.

    Luther once said, “I’d like all my books to be destroyed so that only the sacred writings in the Bible would be diligently read.” That attitude is what reformations are made of. Which reminds me, I need to go read. 🙂

    • Jordan Standridge

      I agree I was debating about putting a line like, other than the Bible these are ten books that… At he same time I do think that sometime theology can help us read our Bibles better. So many people are reading the Bible with the wrong perspective, where God exists for my purposes and to make me happy and somehow despite the clarity of scripture remain with that view.

      • ebear

        That is especially true for those of us who are recovering Word of Faithers. It can be difficult to lose some of the ingrained presuppositions. I agree with Jane, as to the number of Christian books out there – that’s why I appreciate lists like this from a trusted source. Incidentally, I would echo Dan’s concerns with Tozer.

    • Señorita Daffy

      Jane, I couldn’t agree more, and women (no disrespect intended) seem especially prone to the practice of turning to popular bible teachers rather than studying the bible itself. And so much of what is being taught is just fluffy nonsense.

  • rdrift1879

    A good list, though I would prefer another Systematic Theology. Though I love the layout, I think Grudem says some very odd things in places. Remember, if your kids are rebellious, or a bit lazy, or have anger issues, it is probably unwise to tell them a demon is in them and try to rebuke it. There are safer Systematics out there.

    • Dan Phillips

      Yikes. Well, I had to look that one up. He does encourage Christians to rebuke demons, by “name,” which is plenty problematic. On your topic, quote:

      Moreover, such wrestling against “the spiritual hosts of wickedness” may mean that in our private times of intercessory prayer for others we will include an element of verbal rebuke to demonic forces that may be a component in situations for which we are praying. (This kind of spiritual warfare would not be in the presence of the person for whom we are concerned, who in many cases would be confused or frightened unnecessarily.) For example, parents may appropriately include a brief word of rebuke to a spirit of rebelliousness in one child, of laziness in another, or of anger in yet another, in addition to praying that the Lord would give victory in those areas, and in addition to teaching and disciplining their children.31

      31 Since Scripture gives no indication that demons can read our minds, such rebukes against demons would probably have to be spoken audibly, even if softly. By contrast, God of course knows our thoughts, and prayer to him can be in our minds only, without being spoken aloud.

      Unquote.

      [Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004).]

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  • SeekandYeShallFind

    Currently reading The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall.

  • Chris Nelson

    Grudem is a disaster! No ones theology has done more damage to the church then Grudem’s wicked and poisonous doctrine of fallible prophecy. He has given nut jobs from all across the charismatic/continuationist spectrum the theological back bone to continue their cult like behavior. We must ask this man to turn from this wicked teaching before taking him serious.

    • Chris Nelson

      I mean that no ones theology has done more damage in recent years, not in the whole of church history.

  • Chris Nelson

    Grudem is/was also a huge proponent of the Vineyard cult. I just don’t understand what people see in his pop theology.