While Michael’s list is silly and heavily subjective, here is my more level-headed list. The post is in response to our latest Theology Unplugged Podcast on the same subject. You can listen to the complete podcast by clicking the play button below:


ESV Study Bible, Crossway

A great companion for any student of the Bible. Deep enough to give you immense help as you read the Bible, yet concise enough to not overwhelm.

Archaeological Study Bible, Zondervan

Every 21st century reader of the Bible has a great historical gap they need to cross in order to more fully understand Scripture. We are not naturally aware of the world upon which the Bible first came. This study Bible does a great job making you aware of key historical nuggets to help you better understand what you’re reading.

Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis

Michael and I both have this book on our list. If you’ve read it and hated it then read it again. A true gem, opened the eyes to many that you can love Jesus completely and also be as intellectual as anyone else. This book will continue to be appreciated until the return of our Savior.

Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

Bunyan spent decades in a prison cell. His punishment? Preaching about Jesus! He lived in a time and a place where it was illegal but he refused to stay silent about Christ. This amazing book, written from his cell, is one of the best selling books of human history.

The Story of Christianity (volume 1), Justo Gonzalez

We all need to know our roots. We stand on the shoulders of 2,000 years of Spirit indwelt Church history. Gonzalez’s two volume work is highly accessible and truly enjoyable. Instead of being bored your heart will be inflamed for your Savior.

The Story of Christianity (volume 2), Justo Gonzalez

We all need to know our roots. We stand on the shoulders of 2,000 years of Spirit indwelt Church history. Gonzalez’s two volume work is highly accessible and truly enjoyable. Instead of being bored your heart will be inflamed for your Savior.

Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem

What does the Bible say about ______. Whatever you put in that blank the odds are Wayne Grudem has done a lot of the heavy lifting for you. This is the best companion to help guide you through the Bible’s teaching on a ton of topics. A reference book that should be used by every Christian family.

Crazy Love or Forgotten God, by Francis Chan

I cheat a little bit on this one by giving you two options. If you feel like some of these meatier books are bogging you down at times you need to pull a book off the shelf that’s a super-fast read and will inspire you toward your God. I think these two are some of the best from this category.

Real Christianity, William Wilberforce

A little gem of a book written more than 200 years ago by one of the most influential Christians to have ever lived.

The Reason for God, Tim Keller

Keller is referred by many as the C.S. Lewis of our generation. His book Reason for God is a great one to read through or use as a reference. Basically any question you may have about God or questions you may be asked by a co-worker, family member, etc… is discussed in a concise yet rich manner.

What do you think? What would your list look like? Feel free to post your list in the comments…

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    14 replies to "10 Books Every Christian Should Have (Tim’s List)"

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      I think Shelley’s book on Christian History is superb. And its shorter than Justo Gonzalez’s.

    • Dr Michael

      How does Justo Gonzalez compare to Needham’s “2,000 Years of Christ’s Power” series?

    • david carlson

      I love Justo (even if, or perhaps especially) since he is a methodist and therefor suspect to the truly reformed, but I agree with TUAD that Shelly’s book is pretty good. I do also own Church History, An Essential Guide, and find it very readable

      Glad to see the Chan nod also – it is the author I thought of first when I thought of books that might not make someones top 10 list but should.

      And what happened to any reference to the NET Bible? Plus at least a shout out to Net.bible.org!

    • Joey

      Dr. Howard G. Hendricks, a.k.a. “Prof,” kindly shared his list of top ten books.

      Adler, Mortimer, How to Read a Book

      Bruce, A.B., The Training of the Twelve

      Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion

      Chafer, Lewis Sperry, He That Is Spiritual

      Drucker, Peter, The Effective Executive

      Gray, James M., 1st Steps to Understanding Your Bible

      Hyde, Douglas, Dedication and Leadership

      Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity

      Osborn, Alex, Applied Imagination

      Tournier, Paul, To Understand Each Other

    • Char

      Needham’s works are really more history of theology than church history.

    • Skaggers

      Hey Tim and Michael, thanks for the lists (excited to see Sam’s). I feel like I received blog posts and an Unplugged just for me even though I am sure people ask you guys all the time what else they should read. I hope that most of your usual critics realize that these lists are always subjective (except for Michael’s which apparently came straight from Benedict himself via text message). Just one question, was “Top Ten Biblical Disoveries in Archeaology” #11 or was it too close to the Bible to be considered?

      • Ed Kratz

        Ha! Yeah, that one should be in the top ten list but I just figured putting your own book in there would bring public outcry. I should have added one of Sam’s books and then he could have added my book.

        Yes, these lists are very subjective. There are dozens of books that every Christian should probably read. We had to draw the line someone so we did it at 10. Knowing it was subjective we pressed ahead nonetheless trusting it would be beneficial for others.

        take care,

    • […] is according to Tim Kimberly at Parchment and […]

    • James S

      Can’t believe nobody thinks ‘Fox’s Book of Martyrs’ is essential reading.
      Well I do.
      Agree on Bruce’s Training of the Twelve. Good choice!
      It’s availabe free online, so nobody has an excuse to not have read this.
      Agree with Pilgrim’s Progress, but feel Fox’s Book of Martyrs goes hand in hand with it.
      In the way way back olden days, everybody had the Bible, Pilgrim’s Progress and Fox’s Book of Martyrs, and that’s all. (And what else could they have needed? Those three can carry a lifetime).

    • rusty leonard

      Here is a helpful book designed to help Christians and bible students build a library.

      Commentary and Reference Survey: A Comprehensive Guide to Biblical and Theological Resources by John Glynn, published by Kregel.

    • rusty leonard

      I appreciate you including Gonzales in you list. I would also like to recommend The Unquenchable Flame by Mike Reeves. Not quite as in depth as Gonzales but a good Church History for someone who doesn’t want to read a textbook type of book.

    • […] and Tim have given you their ultimate Top Ten list, so now it’s my […]


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