#TheBookshelf - Paul Coulter
Paul Coulter is a former lecturer in Practical Theology and Missiology at the Belfast Bible College. He is currently on Sabbatical and will soon begin a new post with Living Leadership. Paul is also a member of the Evangelical Alliance UK Council and serves on the board for New Horizon Ministries. Check out his recommendations below!
Christian Classics - No Compromise - Melody Green
I’m not certain this book belongs in the ‘classics’ category, but it had to appear on my personal bookshelf and it just didn’t fit anywhere else. As a teenager, Keith Green’s life and songs inspired in me a passion to live for Christ without limitations. His all-out devotion and powerful singing ensured the head knowledge I was gaining from Bible teaching and personal study was married with heart devotion. Looking back, I realise Green’s theology needed some refining, but his seven years of Christian life before his death aged 28 profoundly challenge me to seek radical fruitfulness in my life.
Theological Foundations - Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
When reading Lewis, I frequently find myself thinking no one could possibly make his point better and realising how much my theological understanding has been influenced by his writings, especially this classic. I love this book because it presents a positive vision of Christianity as a master-class in apologetics to the culture of Lewis’s day (it was born from a series of talks broadcast on BBC radio in the 1940s) and because it presents a unifying Christian orthodoxy that transcends traditions and denominations. I want to become merely, thoroughly and consistently Christian and Lewis has helped me along that path.
Discipleship & Development - From Now On - Ralph Shallis
I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this book, translated from a French original, but it helped my discipleship journey more than any other. “The spiritual Christian”, Shallis writes, “sets out to do God’s will with his whole heart. God can […] use him to the uttermost”. This book issues a call for life in the fullness of the Spirit as a disciple of Jesus and explains three principles underpinning that life – conscience (don’t grieve the Spirit); will (don’t quench the Spirit); and progress (walk by the Spirit) – and four disciplines necessary to nourish it – prayer; Scripture; fellowship; and outreach.
Church & Mission - Total Church - Tim Chester and Steve Timmis
I have hundreds of books on these vital subjects in the current context, so this was a hard choice. I opted for Total Church because I often add ticks when I agree (one to three depending on enthusiasm) and question marks (when I’m not sure I agree) in the margins as I read and this book has more triple ticks and fewer queries than any other on this theme. The thesis is simple: lets radically shape Church around the content of the gospel – truth to be proclaimed, so we must be Word and mission centred) in the context of community.
Culture & Literature - The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
The ultimate fantasy epic written within a Christian worldview and embodying rich themes of endurance, friendship, love, sorrow and, of course, the triumph of weakness over Sauron’s naked will to power. It resonates with my anti-elitist tendencies to think of simple Sam carrying the one who carried the ring. Tolkien’s genius in weaving a coherent world with all the intricacies of culture and language was immense. This book, more than any other, carries me to a different world and makes me long for the other world of God’s kingdom to come in its fullness through the return of the king.