The Fifteen Books Most Indispensable for the Minister or Christian Worker

(About this series. This booklist appears at the end of Volume XII just before the 12 volume index.)

For several years the Committee having in charge the publication of “THE FUNDAMENTALS” has been endeavoring to get a list of the five most indispensable books for the minister and the Christian worker, and the ten and the fifteen and the twenty-five. They have been in correspondence with various leaders in Christian thought on both sides of the water. It was hoped that a comparison and combination of all the answers could be made, but the replies have been so divergent that this has been impossible. We are, therefore, giving here nine dif­ferent lists sent, classifying the books in the order of their importance according to the various persons furnishing the lists. The other lists submitted were not classified or specific.

List of Rev. W. J. Erdman, D. D.: Best Five:

“The Divine Unity of the Scripture,” Adolph Saphir. (This book is published in cloth covers at $1.50; paper cover, 15c.)
“Divinity of Christ,” Liddon.
“The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament,” Bernard.
“History of Doctrine,” Shedd.
“Confessions of St. Augustine.”

Second Five:

“History of the Reformation,” D’Aubigne.
“Old Testimony Theology,” Oehler.
“Life and Epistles of St. Paul,” Conybeare and Howson.
Rutherford’s Letters.
Bacon’s Essays.

Third Five:

“Many Infallible Proofs,” A. T. Pierson.
“New Acts of Apostles,” A. T. Pierson.
“Law of Love and Love as Law,” Mark Hopkins.
“How to Study the Bible for Greatest Profit,” R. A. Torrey.
“Facts of the Future State,” Frederick Grant.

List of Rev. Charles R. Erdman, D. D., Professor in Princeton The­ological Seminary, Princeton, N. J.:

First Five:

“The Bible,” American Standard Edition.
“Bible Dictionary,” J. B. Davis (new edition).
“Bible Handbook,” Angus-Green (new edition).
“The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament,” Bernard.
“The Divine Unity of Scripture,” Adolph Saphir.

Second Five:

A Reference Bible (either Scofield’s or the Cross Reference Bible).
“Strong’s Concordance.”
“The Historical Geography of the Holy Land,” G. A. Smith.
“How We Got Our Bible,” Smyth.
“Introduction to the New Testament,” Kerr.

Third Five:

“Old Testament Introduction,” Raven.
“Outline Studies of the Books of the Old Testament,” Moorehead.
“The Mosaic Institutions,” Moorehead.
“Outline Studies of the Four Gospels,” Moorehead.
“Outline Studies of the Acts and Epistles,” Moorehead.

List of Rev. Cleland B. McAfee, D. D., Professor in McCormick The­ological Seminary, Chicago,

First Five:

A good concordance. (I have found nothing better than Young’s Analytical.)
A good commentary. (The best I know in one volume is Dumme­low, which includes a good introduction to each book.)
A good Bible dictionary. (The best two are that by Jacobus and Zenus and that by Davis.)
A good church history. (Fisher’s is the best I know.)
A good history of the world, either Meyer’s or Ridpath’s.

Dr. McAfee does not give a second and third list, but says : “The next five books should be on special phases of Christian truth, probably such as (1) The Person of Christ; (2) The Atonement; (3) Sin; (4) The Holy Spirit; (5) The Inspiration of the Bible.

List of Rev. James M. Gray, D. D., Dean of the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago: (He gives his list as the Ten Indispensable Books for the Pastor’s Library, or, “to put it in another way, what ten books have most helped me.”)

  1. Oxford Two Version Bible.
  2. “The Cyclopædic Hand Book of the Bible,” Rev. Samuel G. Green, D. D.; Introduction by the late Joseph Angus, M. A.
  3. “Analytical Concordance of the Bible,” Robert Young, LL. D.
  4. “Theopneustia” (“The Plenary Inspiration of the Bible”), Dr. L. Gaussen.
  5. “Outlines of Theology,” Rev. A. A. Hodge, D. D.
  6. “Pre-Millennial Essays” of the Prophetic Conference held in the Church of the Holy Trinity, New York City, with an ap­pendix of critical testimony. by Nathaniel West.
  7. “Aids to Prophetic Enquiry,” 13. W. Newton.
  8. “Christianity and Anti-Christianity in Their Final Conflict,” Rev. S. J. Andrews.
  9. “The Life of Our Lord Upon the Earth,” Rev. S. J. Andrews.
  10. “The Two-Fold Life,” Rev. A. J. Gordon, D. D.

List of Rev. C. I. Scofield, D. D., Editor “Scofield Reference Bible”:

First Five:

Young’s Concordance.
“Bible Dictionary,” Angus-Green.
“Darby’s Synopsis.”
“What the Bible Teaches,” Torrey.
“Personal Work,” Torrey.

Second List:

Andrews’ “Life of Christ.”
“Synthetic Bible Studies,” Rev. James M. Gray, D. D.
“Jukes on the Four Gospels.”
“Harmony of the Prophetic Word,” Gaebelein.

List of Rev. Professor W. H. Griffith-Thomas, D. D., of Wycliffe Col­lege, Toronto, Canada: (Dr. Thomas has not divided his list into the first five, etc.)

“The Christian View of God and the World,” Orr.
“Galatians, Philippians and Colossians,” Lightfoot.
“Psalms and Colossians in the Expositor’s Bible,” McLaren.
“The Cross in Christian Experience,” Clow.
“Christ in the Social Order,” Clow.
“Romans in the Expositor’s Bible,” Moule.

List of Rev. John H. Hunter, of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles:

Strong’s or Young’s Concordance.
“Bible Dictionary,” Davis.
“The Bible Text Cyclopædia,” Inglis.
Matthew Henry’s or Jamieson, Faucett and Brown’s Commentary.
“Synthetic Bible Studies,” Rev. James M. Gray, D. D.
“The Life and Times of Jesus, The Messiah,” Edersheim.
“The Life and Epistles of St. Paul,” Conybeare and Howson.
“What the Bible Teaches,” Torrey.
“How to Work for Christ,” Torrey.
“Tongue of Fire,” William Arthur.
“Many Infallible Proofs,” A. T. Pierson.
“New Acts of Apostles,” A. T. Pierson.
“Memoirs of Robert Murray McCheyne.”
“Christian Leaders in England in the Eighteenth Century,” Bishop Ryle.
“Handbook of the Bible,” Angus-Green (new edition).

List of Rev. R. A. Torrey, D. D., Dean of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles :

First Five:

Scofield Reference Bible.
American Standard Version Bible. (The best edition is the Cross Reference Bible, but quite expensive.)
“Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.”
“Cyclopædia of Bible Texts,” Inglis.
Strong s Concordance (by far the best concordance).

Second Five:

Finney’s Autobiography.
“Revivals of Religion,” by Chas. G. Finney.
“The Divine Unity of the Scripture,” Adolph Saphir.
“Harmony of the Prophetic Word,” A. C. Gaebelein.
“Wonders of Prophecy,” Urquhart.

Third Five:

“With Christ in the School of Prayer,” Andrew Murray.
“Demon Possession and Allied Themes,” Dr. Nevius.
C. H. M.’s Notes on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
“The Spirit of Christ,” Andrew Murray.
“The Epistle to the Ephesians,” Rev. H. C. G. Motile. M. A., Bishop of Durham. (The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.)

List of Rev. John M. Maclnnis:

Best Five:

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
A good, reliable Bible dictionary.
“Book by Book, Popular Studies on the Canon of Scripture.”
Salmon’s “Introduction of the New Testament.”
“The Life of Our Lord,” Andrews.

Second Five:

“How to Bring Men to Christ,” R. A. Torrey.
“The Personal Life of the Clergy,” A. W. Robinson.
“The Preacher, His Life and Work,” Jowett.
“The Holy Life,” MacGregor.
“The Ministry of Intercession,” Murray.

Third Five:

“The Living Messages of the Bible,” G. Campbell Morgan
“The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament,” Bernard.
The best single commentary on each book in the Bible as taken up; e .g., Plummer on the Gospel of Luke; Sanday on Romans, McLaren on Psalms, Godet on John. (I do not favor sets of commentaries very much, because in all of these sets there is a great deal of useless matter.)
“Pilgrims’ Progress,” Bunyan.
“What the Bible Teaches,” R. A. Torrey.

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There are 15 Comments

RajeshG's picture

Of the books in these various lists, I strongly disagree with views based on “The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament” by Bernard that suggest or hold that the book of Acts is a book of some kind of second-level importance to the Gospels and the Epistles.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm not familiar with Bernard.

Was disappointed to see two of Charles Finney's works in Torrey's list. I didn't know he was a fan.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Agreed about Finney. Looking at some of the more obscure names, it reminds me that pastors in 2119 will look at our contemporary lists and ask something like, "who is Piper, DeYoung or Kaiser? Never heard of 'em ..."

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Ron Bean's picture

There are some great books her, some of which I still have and use.

Finney is a curiosity. His Systematic Theology was the text for undergrad Bible Doctrines at BJU through at least the late 1950's. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Bert Perry's picture

I'm surprised that none of them mentioned Greek or Hebrew references.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

pvawter's picture

Maybe Torrey got confused and thought the second 5 was a list of books to avoid. Smile

Paul Henebury's picture

Rajesh, I was surprised to read your opinion about 'The Progress of Doctrine'.  I have it and I do not recall encountering anything demeaning about Acts in the book.  He refers to the change in emphasis from kingdom to cross (if memory serves), but I don't think he is guilty as you have charged.  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

RajeshG's picture

Paul Henebury wrote:

Rajesh, I was surprised to read your opinion about 'The Progress of Doctrine'.  I have it and I do not recall encountering anything demeaning about Acts in the book.  He refers to the change in emphasis from kingdom to cross (if memory serves), but I don't think he is guilty as you have charged.  

Paul,

Actually, I referred in my comment to views based on Bernard . . . Over the years, I have heard quite a number of statements from people who highly tout Bernard's work that they believe that what is in the Gospels and the Epistles takes primacy over what is in Acts. I do not agree with such views.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Maybe Torrey got confused and thought the second 5 was a list of books to avoid. 

I'm going to go with that. Smile

Gospels and the Epistles takes primacy over what is in Acts.

Maybe they're talking about the fact that Acts is history and the epistles are direct teaching... which would mean that Acts often reports what happened without telling us whether we should see it as right, wrong, right-but-not-normative, etc. So it's a good idea to interpret history in the light of direct teaching when we're looking for principles. I can see how that idea could be badly articulated or oversimplified into some kind of "Acts is second-rate" attitude. Unfortunate.

RajeshG's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Gospels and the Epistles takes primacy over what is in Acts.

Maybe they're talking about the fact that Acts is history and the epistles are direct teaching... which would mean that Acts often reports what happened without telling us whether we should see it as right, wrong, right-but-not-normative, etc. So it's a good idea to interpret history in the light of direct teaching when we're looking for principles. I can see how that idea could be badly articulated or oversimplified into some kind of "Acts is second-rate" attitude. Unfortunate.

I believe that there is a widespread need for much more appreciation for the book of Acts than many believers may have in our day. By receiving Acts in the way that the believers in the first century would have, we would profit from it fully the way that God wants us to: https://apeopleforhisname.org/2011/04/acts-through-first-century-eyes/

I also intensely disagree with the notion that we are not to get our doctrine from the book of Acts: https://apeopleforhisname.org/2011/07/we-do-not-get-our-doctrine-from-acts/

TylerR's picture

Editor

I don't know about 15 books, but here is my two cents on a few books every Pastor ought to have:

There are more, but these have been particularly helpful for me. The TSK and Bible dictionaries, in particular, are great reference helps. 

Tyler Robbins is a pastor at Sleater-Kinney Road Baptist, in Olympia, WA, and an Investigations Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Paul Henebury's picture

Noted, but let that not reflect badly on a fine book.  

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Jay's picture

There are some great books here, some of which I still have and use.

Yes, I was surprised to see how many were books I recognized, use, or own.  Since Tyler recommended his top 5, let's continue in that vein.  So here are mine:

  1. A good study bible (obviously).  I'm partial to the ESV Study Bible, but I also like the NIV Zondervan Study Bible.
  2. A good systematic theology.  I prefer Grudem by a smidge, but I also like Erickson and even Raymond although I'm not covenant/reformed.
  3. Jamieson Fausset & Brown is a classic and in the public domain.
  4. Albert Barnes is also terrific.
  5. I'll go out on a limb here and recommend Jim Rosscup's book (or Stewart Custer's one) on books for biblical expositors - to help flesh out the library after five Smile

 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ron Bean's picture

Many years ago I was gifted with an International Standard Bible Encyclopedia published in 1915. It was republished in 1989 and that edition is, in may opinion, inferior.

Thankfully the 1915 edition is available on line including here. I've found it invaluable.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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