ImageThis year Christianity Today celebrates 50 years of evangelical presence on the American scene.  In a particular way, the word "evangelical" has always been with us since the publication of the "evangelion," the gospel.  The way that Christianity Today is using the term, it is describing a group of people who for the past 50 years have believed in the authenticity and the truthfulness of the gospel.  While many people on the American scene question the gospel, the evangelicals have continued to preach and to teach the good news of the Gospel. In their October issue, Christianity Today published "The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals."  As one who reads extensively and spent many thousands of dollars on books, I was curious to see which books of the fifty chosen I have in my library and which books I have read.  Because the list is long, in this article I will only write about the top 10. 
10th - Evangelism Explosion by D. James Kennedy
This is the book that brought Kennedy into the forefront of the evangelical world by using the question that is now at the core of many evangelical outreaches - "If you were to die tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?"  I remember reading the book, making copious notes and using some of the methods that he suggested in my one-to-one evangelism encounters. 
9th - Through the Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
This book is an account of the five male missionaries slain by the Ecuadorian Auca tribe.  Their widows remained in the jungle and the tribe was presented with the salvation message of Jesus Christ.  Later on I met Elizabeth's daughter Valerie as we were students at Wheaton College.  At one of the Urbana meetings for college students, a questionnaire was given to missionaries with the question: "In addition to the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit guiding you to become a missionary, what other source has been influential in your decision?"  At the top was Elisabeth Elliot's book. 
8th - Managing Your Time by Ted W. Engstrom
This is the book that indeed (with some books by Peter Drucker) has enabled me to see that I have a gift for administration.  I like preaching and teaching, but in order to do the things that I love, I practice many time management skills for which I am indebted to Engstrom. 
7th - Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider
These days Ron is a colleague as both of us teach at Palmer Theological Seminary.  I am still in awe of how he has shaped the thinking of the evangelicals about the poor, and disturbed by so many rich Christians who sidestep this important realization.  If there is ever a book that condemns many evangelicals about how we engorge ourselves with God's riches without thinking of those who are starving, it is this book. 
6th - The Living Bible  by Kenneth N. Taylor
Taylor translated the Bible into a style so that his kids would have fun reading it.  He found out that there are many millions out there who wanted this translation for themselves.  He published the English version in 1971 and by the late seventies I was a part of a translating team doing the same project in the Romanian language.  
5th - Knowing God  by J. I. Packer
I had the privilege of taking a course entitled The Holy Spirit with J.I. Packer in 1972.  There is no better theologian that J. I. Packer.  He made me understand the great difference that some people talk about God - stories, theories, presuppositions - and other people know God because He is the God of relationships, because He wants to be in us and with us. 
4th - The God Who Is There by Francis A. Schaeffer
To the shocking story published by Time Magazine that God is dead, Schaeffer responded with this book.  It was his call for evangelicals to confront the philosophical world because God has become unknown to the philosopher and to the non-philosopher. In the summer of 1973 together with some of my colleagues who were traveling through Europe, we made the trip through the Swiss Alps to hear Scaheffer in a place that he called L'Abri.  As we got off the train and started to sludge thorugh the Swiss mud, it was impressive to see thousands of students converging to this place to hear someone talk with confidence that God was here and He was not silent. 
3rd - Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
I read this book in high school because someone suggested that I should find out the way that C. S. Lewis talks about war.  Thus, I read the book before I went to register for the draft in 1968.  C. S. Lewis has been a companion ever since and I probably have given away more copies of Mere Christianity than any other book. 
2nd - Understanding Church Growth by Donald Anderson McGavran
It seems that every annual report that I make, McGavran is looking over my shoulder to see if I have understood his concepts or not.  How many discussions, how many sermons, how many articles have I done on this subject since I was ordained in 1977? 
1st - Prayer: Conversing with God by Rosalind Rinker
I have seen the book, I remember the author's name, but I have never purchased the book nor borrowed it from the library to read it.  Yet, as I am reading the reason for why this book was chosen as the number one, I can see that my style of prayer is similar to the one that she is advocating.  I have been practicing this prayer style without having read the book. What are the books that you have read?  What are the books that you are currently reading?  What we read shapes us, molds us into who we are becoming.  Enjoy reading!  
For the full article from Christianity Today, go to http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/october/23.51.html