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Which authors (living or dead) have most influenced your thought?

This was a question recently posed to me by a younger friend who is considering entering pastoral ministry. Honestly, I hate this question because it forces me to make a short list out of what should be a very long one. But I also love this question because it allows me the opportunity to spend time in my library just staring at the shelves and remembering which books have impacted me.

I’m going to spend the next few days (as time allows, which isn’t much) thinking this through. Perhaps you will want to jump in on this one. Which authors have had the greatest impact on your total outlook on the Christian life and theology? Let’s limit the number of authors to five. Feel free to comment with your list (roughly in order of priority).


  • Jay C. says:

    Couple off the top of my head-

    1. John MacArthur, by a nose. His ministry, Grace to You, has been instrumental in putting solid books on theology, exegesis, preaching, and Christianity in general into my greedy hands when I was in College and Seminary, and I have learned much from his work and example.

    2. John Piper’s a VERY close second. The book Desiring God has changed my life. There simply aren’t many other books that have done that.

    3. The team at Crossway for their work on the English Standard Version. It is my primary devotional and study bible, and for good reason.

    4. Knowing God by J.I. Packer. It was a much needed primer on theology proper when I first hit college, and remains a wonderful encouragement and resource for me now, although the direction that Packer has since gone in is terrible.

    5. Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome by Kent and Barbara Hughes. My church is comprised of seven people, and this book serves as a guide and lifeline as I begin my “Pastoral” ministry.

  • Jamie Hart says:

    1. Paul David Tripp – I’ve used his materials more than just about any else. “How People Change” and “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands” are both impacting books. Right now I’m working through “A Quest for More” and have most of the book highlighted!

    2. Kent Hughes – I agree with Jay that “Liberating” is a favorite. I would say it should be a MUST READ for pastors. I also greatly appreciated “Disciplines of a Godly Man.”

    3. John MacArthur – I find myself quoting him more than anyone else!

    4. Warren Weirsbe – I’m going to his commentaries a lot. Very practical and down to earth.

    5. Greg Long – Anytime he writes anything online, I soak it up. I think Greg is probably the next big thing in Fundamental Baptist circles. I have a life-size poster of him in my office and I wear “Fan of Greg Long” t-shirts whenever I get the chance!
    (that was my birthday present to you, Greg…since I didn’t actually BUY anything for you!)

  • Greg Long says:

    Thanks, Jamie…I think. Although I’m a little upset you put me at #5.

  • 1. A. W. Tozer
    2. C. S. Lewis
    3. John Piper
    4. Richard M. Weaver (start with Ideas Have Consequences)
    5. Dissidens, over at

  • Gary Collins says:

    I too enjoyed browsing my bookshelf to see which authors were the most important to me.

    1. Matthew Henry
    Although I don’t consult him as much as I used to, he was one of the first commentators to help me.

    2. Warren Wiersbe
    He is not to turn to for exegesis, but he sure has a great way of outlining and applying Scripture.

    3. Lehman Strauss
    Especially his work on Daniel and Revelation was helpful.

    4. Zane Hodges
    OK, so this choice shows that I am not as “reformed” as most of my GARBC colleagues, but then Hodges is one of the reasons why. Even if you don’t like his rebuttal to lordship salvation (Absolutely Free), his short commentary on James is amazingly clear, and his works on repentance and eternal rewards are excellent also.

    5. Charles Ryrie
    Again, I don’t regularly consult his work, but his theology matches my own, in part because he taught me most of what I know!

    Do I really have to stop at 5 ?

    For contemporary issues,
    1. The Stephen Arterburn series is a must have for all men and most women.

    2. Thom Rainer has keen insight into contemporary church culture.

    3. David Jeremiah- If I were ever to covet another man’s gift of preaching it would be Dr. J

    4. Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg also know how our generations think.

    5. Mark Cahill- “The One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven” is on a short list of “Books you must read immediately!”

  • Russ Boone says:

    1. Charles Spurgeon. His sermons never fail to stir me spiritually & his theology (aside from eschatology) is very close to mine.
    2. Horatius Bonar. Old Scottish preacher who helped me better understand the freeness of the gospel.
    3. Martin Luther. His commentary on Galatians is the best for anyone struggling with legalistic tendencies.
    4. John Bunyan. The first book I read after I was saved was ‘Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners’.
    5. John Calvin. I read the ‘Institutes’ for my Bible Institute classes, and about 15 years later I find myself continually going back to him.

    The older writers had a solid confidence in the Scripture that’s hard to find in our post-modern world.

  • Aaron Hand says:

    1. Warren Wiersbe
    2. John MacArthur
    3. Charles Ryrie
    4. Wayne Grudem
    5. Herbert Lockyer

    Honorable mention: Robert Lightner, Paul Enns, Tim LaHaye, John Davis, Henry Morris, Ken Ham

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