In 2010, the United States published 328,259 new books. That’s 899 new books each day! Yet ironically good books are hard to find.
So how do you know which books are worth reading? Obviously, the Bible needs to be on your daily reading list.
The average visitor to this site reads 24 books each year, which is only 120 titles over the next 5 years. To help you decide which books are worth reading, we’ve put together a list of the top books for church leaders. We’ll begin with the early church fathers and then add newer titles in the months to come.
Early Church Fathers: Circa 100-400 AD
The City of God (426 AD) by Augustine of Hippo
Augustine explains Christianity’s relationship with the Roman government as well as competing religions and philosophies. Written after Rome was sacked by the Visigoths, Augustine encourages Christians by reminding them that even if the earthly rule of the Roman Empire was in danger, it was the City of God that would ultimately triumph.
On the Trinity (417 AD) by Augustine of Hippo
Augustine wrote countless works during his time, On the Trinity was the longest in the making (15+ years) and is considered one of his finest works. In it, Augustine uses analogies to attempt to explain the mysteries of the Trinity and its relation to us.
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (before 400 AD)
A collection of sayings of Christian hermits, monks and nuns who lived in the Egyptian deserts. Though some of the sayings are directly related to a monastic lifestyle, there is a good deal of applicable wisdom to be found here.
Confessions (397 AD) by Augustine of Hippo
Written during Augustine’s first years as a bishop, they reflect on his life from infancy through adulthood. It is not simply an autobiographical work, but also a beautiful piece on the process of interpreting a life.
On Christian Doctrine (397 AD) by Augustine of Hippo
Augustine lays three tasks that are placed on Christian teachers; to discover the truth in scripture, to teach these truths, and to defend scriptural truth from attack.
On Free Choice of the Will (395 AD) by Augustine of Hippo
One of Augustine’s earlier writings, written shortly after his conversion. It is written as an extended dialogue between Augustine and Evodius, and covers many topics of philosophy and theology in addition to the primary topic of the free will.
The Life of Moses (390 AD) by Gregory of Nyssa
While seeming to accept the Biblical account of Moses as historical, Gregory also takes an allegorical approach pulling out portions of Moses’ life and using them to serve as an example. Though he is sometimes criticized for skipping over Moses’ shortcomings (common in biographical writings at the time), Gregory worked hart to join practical philosophy with contemplative philosophy.
Life of St. Anthony of the Desert (357 AD) by Athanasius
The biography of the life of Anthony (aka Antony), the Father of All Monks, written by his friend Athanasius. Anthony was one of the very first monks to spend extended periods in the wilderness.
Nicene Creed (325 AD)
Not a book but an important written work nonetheless.
The History of the Church: From Christ to Constantine (324 AD) by Eusebius
In this pioneering work, Eusebius provides the first full-length historical narrative of Early Christianity from Christ to the 4th Century BC.
On the Incarnation (318 AD) by Athanasius
Athanasius gracefully tackles the question, “Why did God have to come and take flesh in order to save mankind?” C.S. Lewis considered it a masterpiece.
Against the Heresies (188 AD) by Irenaeus of Lyons
Irenaeus, an early bishop from central Europe wrote this book to refute the teachings of the Gnostics.
On the Apostolic Preaching (between 178 – 200 AD) by Iranaeus of Lyons
A summery of the Christian faith written for his friend Marcianus. Irenaeus presents things chronologically, from the creation of the world to the Christ’s death on the cross, and in so doing shows that Christ is the focus and the culmination of the Old Testament.
The First and Second Apologies (circa 157 AD) by Justin Martyr
One of the earliest Christian apologetics, Justin Martyr, wrote these two letters direction to the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius. In them he not only makes a philosophical case for Christianity, but a detailed explanation of all Christian rituals.