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An Australian evangelical reading list

A friend at church recently asked Tamie about which books would be best to read, so we clapped together this list. In it, you might not find the stuff you’re looking for (or think you’re looking for), but this is a certain sort of list.

It’s an evangelical list. Evangelicals care a lot about the finished work of Christ and the importance of the Bible. But even more than that, if it were possible, evangelicals care about the transformed life. So this list focuses on truth as transformation, leaning towards ethics more than doctrine, leaning towards the ‘godward’ life more than flashpoint issues.

It’s also an Australian list. It reflects the influence of Australian evangelicals and it leans more towards the British tradition than the American tradition.

It’s a short list and an incomplete list, but here it is all the same!

What would you put on your list, and why?

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Arthur Davis

Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

12 replies

  1. Good list.

    I’d have some Goldsworthy. Keller’s Counterfeit Gods, and add Chris Wright’s book on ethics. In fact, I’d move the two ethics books you’ve got in the last category back to intermediate, and chuck in O’Donovan’s Resurrection and Moral Order.

    P.S Where is Driscoll?

  2. Cheers Nathan — sorry your comments are still getting stuck in the Akismet filter! Dunno what’s going on with that…

    We’ve generally tried to include books that are short and accessible — stuff that we could happily recommend to people who won’t do a theological degree, people who aren’t “in ministry”.

  3. A good list but ‘Five Views on Sanctification’ was really disappointing, perhaps it’s the age, published in 1987. (There was no explanatory or summative essay and the contributors didn’t make the clearest presentations.)

  4. Fascinating (and a little sad) that none of the books above the basic level except for Brian Rosner’s are actually written by Australians. I remember a discussion at Ridley where we realised that we couldn’t think of any world-class Australian theologians. Ideas still seem to flow to us from the centre of the ’empire’.

  5. Agreed, Luke. I think the treatment of sanctification in ‘Across the Spectrum’ is better than the Counterpoints series.

    AB, this thought occurred to me too. (Though Kirsten Birkett, Simon Smart, Andrew Cameron and Michael Hill are all Aussies.) At the basic and academic levels (especially in biblical studies), Aussies seem to be contributing, but somehow we’ve missed the popular level theology thing (beyond the very basics.)

  6. Just trying to think through some of the reasons behind the lack of Aussies thing. At one level, it could just be that we don’t have the people but I’m wondering if there are other factors….

    Is it partly what publishing houses Aussies have access to? Talking to those who have study overseas and who they interact with, I can’t help feeling like we have great people in Australia but we tend to be a little isolated (even with the internet, blah, blah).

    Or is it an Australian disdain for publicity? It seems like any mug in the US has a book they’ve published but we in Australia consider that a much bigger deal – so just write a little pamphlet or otherwise, leave it up to the expert academics. (Which is a shame because half the Aussie pastors I know could run rings around the American pastors who are publishing!)

    And I wonder whether it’s a money thing too? Funding anything in Australia is difficult, let alone for books!

  7. Money, publishing, publicity, all those are probably factors, I agree. There is probably also a bit of the economy of scale in such a small country not being able to support wide-ranging theological traditions and in-depth intellectual work – we have nothing to compare with say, Oxford, or Princeton, or Tubingen.

    It would be good if this could change, because we do need good contextual theology. We seem to be at the mercy of whoever can launch their ideas across the Pacific. For instance, the influence of John Piper is, to put it charitably, a mite inflated when compared with the actual quality of his theological work. Yeah, God’s really big, I get it. ;)

  8. Trellis + Vine is an example of an Aussie book cracking the American market.

    On the Goldsworthy front, Gospel and Kingdom is a bit of a landmark book that isn’t particularly scholarly (ie I’d never use it in an essay).

    Dumbrell would be another name to throw in the ring in the upper echelons of this list.

  9. I reckon the most accessible Goldsworthy is According to Plan. But Vaughan Roberts’ God’s Big Picture is Goldsworthy lite — heaps more accessible and easy to recommend.

  10. This looks good – quite a few titles here I haven’t read. Not sure Bonhoeffer would be “intermediate”, it’s pretty heavy-going! I know this is showing my age and perhaps also getting the level wrong, but at intermeidate level I’d also have Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”, Ron Sider’s “Rich Christians in and Age of Hunger” (I think there is a fairly recent edition) and James Sire’s “The Universe Next Door”. Also perhaps Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” even though I’m not a huge fan of Yancey overall.

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