There are multiple opinions about what should be included in a Seminary graduate’s library; here are the 10 selections we strongly recommend – and why they are important.
1. Knowing God (J.I. Packer)
This highly acclaimed book has been recommended for nearly 50 years to help Christians come to a clearer understanding of who God is on a profoundly deep level. Packer explores both facets of the knowledge of God – knowledge about God and actually knowing God. This dual focus is presented in a practical manner and will help the reader grow closer to the God they love and serve.
2. The Knowledge of the Holy (A.W.Tozer)
Tozer calls the church to a high-minded view of God – radically different from today’s “culturally relevant” church. God’s majesty is often trivialized and this book will help keep a proper perspective of who God is and why He is worthy of more worship than we can ever muster.
3. Morning by Morning (C.H. Spurgeon)
This daily devotional based on Scripture passages will help the student start and conclude each day with his Lord. Over a century ago, Spurgeon offered practical, biblical counsel through short readings and comment that do not stale with age. In few words, he is able to capture broad topics that will help focus our attention on the important elements of our daily life. This often simple book expresses the importance of mediation on God’s word and realizing the Word’s transforming power.
4. Christian Theology (Millard Erickson)
This exploration of Christian doctrine helps the reader to better understand the tenets of Christian faith. A helpful companion to Confessions or other doctrinal resources, Erickson brings current discussions into this tome. Not only is doctrine explored and discussed, its application to life and ministry is presented for the reader’s consideration.
5. Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers (John Owen)
As challenging a book as you will ever encounter, Owen’s depth and contemplation about sin and its impact will lead you toward continual repentance and self-evaluation. Often, you will need to re-read each paragraph to fully comprehend his message – but his message is well worth the effort. The net result is the reader’s growth and becoming more like Christ – a valuable text indeed!
6. Preachers & Preaching (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
Martyn Lloyd Jones did not claim perfection or any unique ability to preach; but he held firmly to his message and his method. While not necessarily espousing his own manner of preaching as the best (or most effective) way, he presents the role of preaching as an exercise to take very seriously. While he is considered “old-school” in his methodology, Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ impact cannot be discredited. His example is worth noting.
7. The Pleasures of God (John Piper)
Few contemporary pastors have published timeless works that compare to the Reformers or late 19th century authors. One of these is John Piper who brings to light an often overlooked yet vitally important aspect of Christian faith – God’s pleasure. Christian maturity includes an awareness of what brings God pleasure (and, in turn, ours). Piper presents the antidote to the dour believer who is overly pious and discusses the joy that should be flowing out of the heart of all Christians.
8. Pilgrim’s Progress (John Bunyan)
No other allegory can come close to Bunyan’s most famous work. Timeless in its story, the account of Pilgrim’s journey to the Celestial City reminds us that each of us is on our own journey (and at our own spot on the path). Every believer can identify with Pilgrim’s encounters in this account; Bunyan has captured nearly all of the pitfalls, distractions and victories we all experience. This volume will help the student to keep wise counsel and be wary of various pitfalls that are common to man.
9. Institutes of the Christian Religion (John Calvin)
The quintessential encyclopedia of doctrine; Calvin presents theology and the various facets of Christianity like no other. This reference-like set is a must-have for every minister’s library. Calvin’s exposition of Scripture and discussion of each component is unequaled in depth, wisdom and the revealed mind of God.
10. The Hidden Life of Prayer (David McIntyre)
McIntyre presents examples from church history as he makes his case for fervent, consistent prayer. No one knows how much more might have been accomplished if only we had spent more time on our knees. Not only will this effective admonition bring about positive change in your own life; it could lead to a greater impact on (and in) the workd around you!
The Baptist Confession of 1689
Some might argue that Westminster is superior; but the Second London Baptist Confession presents each doctrinal element with comprehensive discussion and a multitude of Scriptural references to support their interpretation. Starting with who God is and working through salvation, sanctification, ordinances and much more, the 1689 Confession covers all essential doctrines of the faith. It is a resource that will prove invaluable for its concise, approachable format.
Hopefully, your library will contain more than these eleven volumes! But as you start filling your shelves (or e-reader), these works will become a strong nucleus for your collection.