That was the question posed by Pastor James White, pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church who blogs at Church & Culture. Now, as a certified, lifelong book-a-holic (who is not remotely interested in rehab) that raises a boatload of intriguing questions.
Actually, White got the question from the announcement of a new partnership between the Orange Prize for Fiction and Vintage Classics where they asked 100 people to “name one book they would pass on to the next generation, their so-called ‘inheritance classic’” Many are the sort of books one would expect to find on a reading list for college literature classes.
Of course, you could be more specific and make such a list for fiction or non-fiction, or children’s books, or books by Southerners.
White thought to ask, “What specific Christian books and authors would I want to pass on to the next generation?” These are the sort of books that sparked your thinking, captured your imagination, stirred your heart, made you love God more deeply and passionately.
These are books that have and and will stand the test of time, timeless. Books of substance or profound simplicity. Books that are seminal, not derivative. Books that are artistic or even a little off.
So…here goes the top of my own “legacy list”… in the order in which I encountered them and with brief comment
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
I have the boxed set of these that I first read when I was a teenager and that I also read to my son when he was a child. “Aslan is on the move” still gives me chills.
The Lost Art of Disciple-making by Leroy Eims
One of the first books I read after sensing a call to ministry, this set the trajectory of a ministry centered in disciple-making and made practical sense of the Great Commission.
Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald
Early in my ministry, I ran into a spiritual wall of expectations and demands. MacDonald showed me the way forward in a language that first introduced me to the spiritual disciplines, and encouraged thoughtful, intentional pursuit of depth as a key to breadth in ministry.
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
A dear friend gave me this early in my ministry and wrote in the front cover “soak your ministry in these truths and you’ll never lack a message to share.” He was right.
The Atonement by Leon Morris
I was on a weekend private retreat in a motel room in Minneapolis, MN when I slowly worked through this short, but powerful book and clarified the centrality of the cross for the gospel, ministry and my life.
The Pleasures of God by John Piper
Even more than some of his better known books, this work exploded my heart with the awareness that the most important reality in the universe is the all-consuming truth and beauty of God’s glory. The chapter on “God’s Pleasure in the Death of His Son” wrecked me afresh with the depth of God’s mercy.
Ragamuffin Gospel: Visual Edition by Brennan Manning
Grace has always been a struggle for me, and Manning’s profound grasp of the utter mercy of our Father for the “broken, beat-up, bedraggled and burnt out” was ( and is) soul liberating. The original is great, but I love the artistic interpretation of this edited version
Revival by Richard Owen Roberts
Somewhere in my 30’s the Lord planted a burden for genuine Biblical revival – “an extraordinary movement of the Holy Spirit producing extraordinary results” — among His people in the North American church. Roberts’ historical perspective and passionate Biblical viewpoint fed that burden.
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
There may be no book for adults that more clearly portrays the centrality of the gospel to every book of the Bible than this delightful children’s book. “every story whispers His name” is a tagline and a truth.
The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterston and / or
The Peanuts Collection by Charles Schulz
You didn’t think this was all serious, did you? I really have no idea if Watterston is a believer and have my suspicions that Schulz was, but I learned an awful lot about human nature and the need for the gospel from an imaginary tiger or a blanket-toting friend
Oh, there are so many more I could mention. The early novels of Walter Wangerin (Book of the Dun Cow) and numerous biographies. Or Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, for cryin’ out loud! In time, I think some works by Tim Keller (Prodigal God) may join this list.
What books would be on your legacy list?