Nathan’s Reading List

The following is a list of books I have found helpful in my attempts to follow in the way of Christ, and which I would recommend. Most of them I have and am happy to lend out.


 Airport Reading…

– Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, Michael D. O’Brien, 1996

This is the first ‘end times’ novel I’ve read for years and really enjoyed it. It’s a bit dated being before the onset of mobile phones and the internet, it could also be seen as tending towards being quite reactionary and very conservative, but it is a good read, it’s very astute about the nature of ‘Man,’ and it contains some theological gems that spoke into my life. It was a page-turner but one that also inspired me to live a more Spirit-filled life. Another caveat is that it’s Catholic and virtually never mentions Protestants.


– From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium, William Dalrymple, 1997

Dalrymple’s third book as he re-traces the path of the ancient monk John Moschos around the empire of Byzantium. Fascinating, depressing, funny and inspiring. A must read for any interested in the situation for Chrsitians in that part of the world today.

– Religion for Atheists, Alain de Botton, 2012

de Botton is an athiest phillospher who seems to feel that contemporary society has lost something in its rejection of religion. Due to not having faith himself and being unable to accept the meta-physical claims religions make, he scrutinises faith from an evolutionary perspective. He assumes that certain aspects of religions must have evolved over time because they were good for us, he then seeks to analyse why they are good, and at the end of the book tries to depict a religion that retains these positive elements but doesn’t rely on a faith in God. I thought that bit was weird, but his description of the meaning and relevance behind some of the things we do in church was beautiful.
– Against the Tide, Towards the Kingdom, Jeny and Justin Duckworth, 2011

The story of the vision and growth of local Wellington movement Urban Vision. It inspired me to read “The Sabbath.” Justin is now the Bishop of Wellington so it’s an intersting read regards his background and motivation.


– The Year of Living Biblically A.J. Jacobs,2007

 One man’s quest to live by the Bible literally for a year in central New York. Jacobs is a secular Jew, so again this isn’t a ‘Chrsitian’ book – but it is insightful and hilarious. A are combination. 


For theology geeks…

– Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation, James K A Smith, 2009

This book was recommended to me many times before I bought it, and it engaged me deeply as soon as I picked it up. It suggests we sould seek to foster a Chrsitian desire rather than a Christian worldview (as had previously been my priority), since we generally make decisions based on our heart desires rather than rationally thinking them out. Found it helpful as it then goes through the liturgical elements of a ‘traditional’ service and how they help a faith community understand and fall in love with the Kingdom of God.


– Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, NT Wright, 2008

 Wright is one of the Bible scholars I most respect, and this book is a necessary corrective to our usually neo-platonic understandings of the afterlife. A hard read at times – I had to go over some paragrpahs several times to really internalise the message – but he paints and beautiful and scripturally sound picture of the age to come.
– A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, Diarmaid MacCulloch, 2009.

I like these kinds of books anyway, but I particularly apprecaited this one. Although MacCulloch isn’t an orthodox Chrsitian, he grew up in a vicarage and also spent time as an Anglican Deacon in the UK. With that background he has a powerful insight into the workings of a simple country parish, the rhythms of community worship and pastoral care. This gives his writing another dimension as he applies the grand upheavals of history to the daily workings of simple village life.


– A Community Called Atonement, Scott McKnight, 2007

A very readable attempt to address one of the most potent questions for the Christian faith, namely “why did Jesus die on the cross?” It covers and affirms numerous of the main theological understandings, while retaining a long-running golf analogy. This book moved and inspired me, and it has been the genesis of more than one sermon.



Books I used to rave about and still recommend…

– Blue Like Jazz: Non-religius thoughts on Christian spirituality, Donald Miller, 2003

– Irresistable Revolution: Living as an ordinary radical, Shane Claiborne, 2006

– Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian call to action, J. Matthew Sleeth, 2007

– The Shack, William P. Young, 2007

– Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the neighbourhood Church is transforming the Faith, Diana Butler Bass, 2006

– People of the Lie, M Scott Peck, 1983

– The Lost History of Christianity: The thousand-year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Asia and Africa – and how it died, Phillip Jenkins, 2008

– What’s so Amazing about Grace? Philip Yancey, 1997

– The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics, Richard B. Hays, 1996

– Take This Bread, Sarah Miles, 2007 (her sequel Jesus Freak is also a good read)

– The Double Rainbow: James K. Baxter, Ngati Hau and the Jerusalem Commune, John Newton, 2009

– The Art of Curating Worship: Reshaping the role of worship leader, Mark Pierson 2010

– The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1951