ere’s a Facebook Challenge I thought was actually interesting: Give the ten books other than the Bible that have most influenced your life, with one sentence each explaining why they are on your list. These are not necessarily your favorite books, but the ones that have had the most impact on the direction of your life, for good or ill. This was my response.
J. R. R. Tolkien, who appears twice
- R. R. Tolkien, THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Elen sila lumenn omentielvo.
- Sir Philip Sidney, THE DEFENSE OF POESY. Explained why Poetry was part of my calling to the ministry rather than something that competed with it, and how literature relates to philosophy and history; nothing did more to chart the future course of my career (for life in general, see # 1).
- R. R. Tolkien, “On Fairie Stories.” Did more to preserve my faith at a time of doubt than any other work.
- Francis Schaeffer, THE GOD WHO IS THERE. Showed me what it is to have a Christian world view, and why it matters.
- S. Lewis, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. Does more than any other work to make Beauty, Truth, Goodness, Virtue, and Aslan’s Country believable as real things.
- John Calvin, THE INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. Whether you agree with all of his “points” or not, Calvin shows what theology is and how it should be done; he is a man in love with the glory and the grace of God. As such, he is my theological role model.
- Augustine of Hippo, CONFESSIONS. Shows what it is to have a truly theocentric mind.
- S. Lewis, MIRACLES. Incisive apologetics, rich and fertile theology; it doesn’t get any better than this.
- Robert Frost, COMPLETE POETRY. Did more to teach me my craft than any other work.
- Jonathan Edwards, A TREATISE ON THE RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS. Indispensible for the practical application of theology both in your personal life and in ministry.
C. S. Lewis, the other author who appears more than once
HONORABLE MENTION: C. S. Lewis, THE ABOLITION OF MAN; George Herbert, THE TEMPLE; Edmund Burke, REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE; Kenneth Kantzer, INTRODUCTION TO SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (unpublished notes); Barry Goldwater, THE CONSCIENCE OF A CONSERVATIVE; Dorothy L. Sayers, THE MIND OF THE MAKER; G. K. Chesterton, THE EVERLASTING MAN; Michael Polanyi, PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE.
Now, as for your most influential books: Order Dr. Williams’s books Stars through the Clouds ($15.00), Inklings of Reality ($15.00) or Reflections from Plato’s Cave ($15.00) at http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.
And don’t forget his newest book, Deeper Magic: The Theological Framework behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016)!
About The Author
Donald T. Williams (BA Taylor University, MDiv Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, PhD University of Georgia) is R. A. Forrest Scholar and Professor of English at Toccoa Falls College in the Hills of NE Georgia. A dual citizen of Narnia and Middle Earth, he is a border dweller, permanently camped out on the borders between serious scholarship and pastoral ministry, theology and literature, preaching and teaching, Christianity and culture. He is best known as an Inklings scholar and Christian apologist. He is the author of nine books and many articles and would love to come to your church or school to preach or conduct an apologetics or Inklings seminar. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.