The 5 Most Influential Books (In My Life)

On Facebook, Brandon Wason "summoned" me to blog about the 5 most influential books in my life, so, here they are, in order (I think). (*Note, I'm not including the Bible here, which would clearly be #1 simply because that's a given. Thus, these are the 5 most influential outside of Scripture.)

1. The Social God & the Relational Self by Stanley J. Grenz. Theologically and philosophically, this book probabaly caused the biggest paradigm shift in my belief system. In a nutshell, in this masterpiece of a work, Grenz argues for both a Trintarian theology/philosophy. Even more, he suggests that Trinitarianism is social and relational (as God Himself is) and is thus, found in all areas and aspects of life. This book came at a time when I was searching for a basis and understanding of Trinitarian theology and I can't be more happen that it arrived when it did.

2. Social-Science Commentaries by Bruce Malina & John Pilch / Richard Rohrbaugh. Now, before I say too much about these commentaries, I must say that I actually found them by accident. The seminary I was attending was having a going out of business sale and these were on the shelves as I was browsing. I flipped through the commentaries on the Gospels and was intrigued by their approach to the text: socio-cultural. So, I bought what remained of the set and went home and dove into them. Now, I can't say that they are the best commentaries (by any means) that I've read but they were very influential in my life because they really piqued my interest in socio-cultural approaches to reading the text.

3. The Most Moved Mover by Clark Pinnock. After reading the Stan Grenz book mentioned above, my appetite for Trinitarian theology had grown tremendously. So, I started reading a lot by guys like Colin Gunton and especially, Clark Pinnock. I found myself quite on the same page as Pinnock in terms of Trinitarian theology. Just as well, it was a pleasant surprise that Pinnock was arguing what I had always intuited about the "omnis". When I got Pinnock's book, it was like a total re-affirmation of what I had been thinking for quite a while. It was good to know that I wasn't the only one ruminating over these things and approaching them this way.

4. The Diffusion of Innovations by Everett M. Rogers. This book may actually deserve a rank higher than 4th place but for now, it is what it is. I include this book because it has helped me to see both my world and the ancient world from a different perspective. Rogers' book talks about change and how it is borne, comes to bear on societies/peoples and then, how it is reacted to. I was assigned this book in an anthropology course I took with Dr. Mike Rynkiewich and I am indebted to him for including it in the syllabus and turning me on to it.

5. Contextualization in the New Testament by Dean M. Flemming. This book was an important work for me (not just because it was my first ever published book review) but because it helped re-shape my view of how Paul did both theology and evangelism. Flemming's contention is that Paul, as well as the other NT authors, all contextualized the Good News when they shared it. This was an influential book in my life because it provided a good contrast to other models and methods of "evangelism" that were around at the time (The Way of the Master, The Purpose Driven Life, etc.).


  1. Excellent! The only one of those books that I've read is the Social Science commentary, so I'm glad to see a few books that are new to me. Thanks.