God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis—I had been a high-school evangelical for three years when someone handed me this collection of essays. They changed my life, and Lewis became my first teacher. If you have never read C.S. Lewis, you have missed one of God’s great gifts to the church in the last hundred years. God in the Dock is the most formative work in my life because it was the first to capture my heart and my mind. Thirty-plus years later, Lewis is my constant companion.
The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard—This book put into words the things I knew, but didn’t know that I knew. Willard is a Southern Baptist with a PhD in Philosophy who teaches at USC: that’s enough to stretch anyone’s idea of what it means to be a Christian. He cracks open our narrow ideas of “the gospel” and re-introduces Evangelicals to “the gospel of the Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God was the message of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul. It should be the message of every student of Jesus but I daresay not one out of ten would define the gospel that way.
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