These are the books that changed my life and continue to shape my faith. Master these (a lifetime of work, but worth it!), and you will be very well on your way to love of God, self and other.

By using the links below, a small percentage of your purchase will go to support Jesus at 2AM.


Christian Proficiency by Martin Thornton

This is the book that started my love affair with the spiritual life. It is the finest overview I have ever found of the classical elements of healthy spiritual practice - and written by a well-recognized expert in the field! If you read one book on spiritual formation, this is it.

The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright

This is the shortened version of his Jesus at the Victory of God (one of the books that changed New Testament interpretation forever!). It will help you understand Jesus within the context of 1st century Palestinian Judaism, and thus, help you understand Jesus. Seriously. This is a must-read unless you want to skip straight to Wright's much more detailed (and brilliant!) Jesus and the Victory of God.

Life and Holiness by Thomas Merton

In this short little book, one of the great saints of the 20th century describes the essence of Christian maturity. It is approachable, readable and one of the finest summaries ever written of what faith looks like in practice.

Narratives of a Vulnerable God by William Placher

Placher was one of the great theological historians of the 20th century and toward the end of his life he authored a book on what he thought needed to be added to the conversation. What results is a book addressing the classical doctrines of Christianity from the central perspective that God is love. Brilliant. Deep. Worth the effort!

Book of Common Prayer - Episcopal Church, 1979 Edition

Once you read Christian Proficiency it will become all the more clear why everyone needs a prayer book, especially one that includes the daily office. Note that the BCP is available for as a free .PDF download here (definitely get it). But I like having a hardcopy (or 3) as well. I also wrote a blog post with instructions for using the BCP here.

The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1 by Justo Gonzales

This amazingly well-written volume covers church history from the first century to the dawn of the Reformation. It provides essential context for everything from the classical debates in theology to the practice of worship and prayer. If you were to read one book in church history (and I hope you will!), this would be it! Note that there is a volume 2 - covering the Reformation to the 20th century western church, which is also an exceptional work.

The Gospel of the Kingdom by George Ladd

The central proclamation of Jesus is that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Thus in order to understand Jesus, one has to understand what he means by the Kingdom of God. And few do it better than George Ladd - a towering figure in 20th century theology. This is his abridged version of his much longer Theology of the New Testament. It will introduce and clarify ideas central to properly interpreting message of Jesus and the subsequent writings of Paul.

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart

It is very easy to read the Bible badly (resulting in bad theology, bad practice...). Here's how to avoid that! Fee and Stuart are world class biblical scholars who have written a brilliant book on how to interpret the Bible even if you don't know the original languages. This should be required reading of anyone who owns a Bible.

The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham

No book in the Bible is more regularly misunderstood than the book of Revelation. This is doubly tragic, as how one understands the end of a story greatly influences how they read the rest of it. In this stunningly short and readable book, eminent NT scholar Richard Bauckham unveils the symbolism of John's vision and reveals a deeply moving call to trust in the love of God amidst fear and suffering.

Letters to Marc About Jesus by Henri Nouwen

Everyone should know Henri Nouwen - one of the great spiritual writers of all time. This is a collection of letters between Henri and his nephew about the life of faith, particularly how to live with "Jesus at the center." It is gentle and brilliant and will subtly-but-immeasurably change your life.

Harper Collins NRSV Study Bible - Student Edition

In order to read the Bible well, you need a good translation with accurate contextual notes. This is the best one on the market as far as I'm concerned (we give one to every graduating high school senior at Canvas). The NRSV is the most overall reliable translation and the study notes from the Society of Biblical Literature are second to none. If you are going to read the Bible, read this one. (And I recommend it in hardback as it holds up much better than paperback.)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail - BluRay 40th Edition

As Pelagius would say: "You've earned it." I mean, that's a lot of reading! And it is all for naught if it doesn't spark love, fun and the ability to laugh at oneself. I can't imagine anyone hasn't seen it, but in in case of emergency, here's a link!

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