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Christianity Today’s Books of the Century

"Books of the Century" at (April 24, 2000).

Of the millions of books published this century, only a few hundred have shaped people in extraordinary ways. Here are some of those — 100 books that had a significant effect on Christians this century. Christianity Today asked more than 100 of its contributors and church leaders to nominate the ten best religious books of the twentieth century. By best books, we meant those that not only were important when first published, but also have enduring significance for the Christian faith and church. We have included books which do not always prompt agreement, but which are important for evangelical Christians to read and contend with. A few “period” pieces also made the list of 90. ~ Christianity Today


  1. C. S. Lewis: Mere Christianity » “The best case for the essentials of orthodox Christianity in print.” ~ David S. Dockery
  2. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Discipleship » “Leaves you wondering why you ever thought complacency or compromise in the Christian life was an option.” ~ Mark Buchanan
  3. Karl Barth: Church Dogmatics » “Opened a new era in theology in which the Bible, Christ, and saving grace were taken seriously once more.” ~ J. I. Packer
  4. J. R. R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings (trilogy) » A classic for children from 9 to 90. Bears constant re-reading. ~ J. I. Packer
  5. John Howard Yoder: The Politics of Jesus » “Some 30 years after this book was published, the church has found itself culturally in a more marginal position, and this book is making wider and wider sense.” ~ Rodney Clapp
  6. G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy » “A rhetorically inventive exposition of the coherence of Christian truth.” ~ David Neff
  7. Thomas Merton: The Seven Storey Mountain » “A painfully candid story of one Christian soul’s walk with grace and struggle, it has become the mark against which all other spiritual autobiographies must be measured.” ~ Phyllis Tickle
  8. Richard Foster: Celebration of Discipline » “After Foster finishes each spiritual discipline, you not only know what it is, why it’s important, and how to do it — you want to do it.” ~ Mark Buchanan
  9. Oswald Chambers: My Utmost for His Highest » “A treasury of daily devotional readings that has fed the souls of millions of Christians in the twentieth century. Future generations of Christians must continue to draw from this treasury.” ~ Richard J. Mouw
  10. Reinhold Niebuhr: Moral Man and Immoral Society » “Introduced a breathtakingly insightful, shrewd, and cunning realism about human sin, especially in its social expressions, rooted in biblical theology and a penetrating appraisal of the dark era into which the Western world had entered.” ~ David P. Gushee


in alphabetical order by author

  • Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart
  • Alcoholics Anonymous: (The Big Book of A.A.)
  • Roland Bainton: Here I Stand
  • Karl Barth: The Epistle to the Romans
  • Ernest Becker: The Denial of Death
  • Robert N. Bellah, ET AL.: Habits of the Heart
  • Georges Bernanos: The Diary of a Country Priest
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Letters and Papers from Prison
  • David Bosch: Transforming Mission
  • Walter Brueggemann: The Prophetic Imagination
  • Emil Brunner: Truth as Encounter
  • Albert Camus: The Plague
  • Edward John Carnel: The Case for Orthodox Theology
  • Willa Cather: Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • Dorothy Day: The Long Loneliness
  • Annie Dillard: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  • Documents of Vatican II
  • W. E. B. Dubois: The Souls of Black Folk
  • T. S. Eliot: Four Quartets
  • Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man
  • Jacques Ellul: The Technological Society
  • Shusaku Endo: Silence
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Victor Frankl: Man’s Search for Meaning
  • Sigmund Freud: Civilization and Its Discontents
  • The Fundamentals
  • Langdon Gilkey: Shantung Compound
  • Carol Gilligan: In a Different Voice
  • Graham Greene: The Power and the Glory
  • John Howard Griffin: Black Like Me
  • Gustavo Gutiérrez: A Theology of Liberation
  • Philip Paul Hallie: Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed
  • Stanley Hauerwas: A Community of Character
  • Václav Havel: Living in Truth
  • Richard Hays: The Moral Vision of the New Testament
  • Carl F. H. Henry: God, Revelation, and Authority (six volumes)
  • John R. Hersey: Hiroshima
  • Abraham Heschel: The Prophets
  • Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
  • William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • Franz Kafka: The Trial
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Testament of Hope
  • Thomas S. Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
  • Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Aldo Leopold: A Sand County Almanac
  • C. S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia » (especially The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and The Screwtape Letters
  • J. Gresham Machen: Christianity and Liberalism
  • Alasdair C. MacIntyre: After Virtue
  • Malcolm X and Alex Haley: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • George M. Marsden: Fundamentalism and American Culture
  • François Mauriac: Viper’s Tangle
  • Jürgen Moltmann: The Crucified God
  • Richard John Neuhaus: The Naked Public Square
  • Lesslie Newbigin: The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
  • Reinhold Niebuhr: The Nature and Destiny of Man (two volumes)
  • H. Richard Niebuhr: Christ and Culture
  • Kathleen Norris: The Cloister Walk
  • Henri J. M. Nouwen: The Wounded Healer
  • Anders Nygren: Agape and Eros
  • Elizabeth O’Connor: Journey Inward, Journey Outward
  • Flannery O’Connor: A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories
  • Rudolf Otto: The Idea of the Holy
  • J. I. Packer: Knowing God
  • Alan Paton: Cry, the Beloved Country
  • Jaroslav Pelikan: Jesus Through the Centuries
  • Josef Pieper: The Four Cardinal Virtues
  • Michael Polanyi: Personal Knowledge
  • Chaim Potok: The Chosen
  • Walter Rauschenbusch: Christianity and the Social Crisis
  • Dorothy L. Sayers: The Mind of the Maker
  • Albert Schweitzer: The Quest of the Historical Jesus
  • Nevil Shute: On the Beach
  • Ronald J. Sider: Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn: The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
  • John R. W. Stott: Basic Christianity
  • Paul Tournier: The Meaning of Persons
  • A. W. Tozer: The Pursuit of God
  • Barbara Tuchman: The Guns of August
  • Evelyn Underhill: Mysticism
  • Miroslav Volf: Exclusion and Embrace
  • Gerhard von Rad: Old Testament Theology
  • Andrew F. Walls: The Missionary Movement in Christian History
  • Max Weber: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
  • Simone Weil: Waiting for God
  • Elie Wiesel: Night
  • Charles Williams: Descent into Hell
  • Walter Wink: Engaging the Powers
  • Philip Yancey: The Jesus I Never Knew