In our modern world, the publications of religious leaders are often greeted by heavy skepticism. Books written by pastors, priests, and other members of the clergy rarely end up on lists of required or suggested reading. This is potentially very unfortunate; it ignores the intellectual and creative contributions of a broad range of individuals, people with a lifetime given to spiritual insight and public service.
Here are five great books written by pastors, which anyone pursuing a literary or theological degree, along with those interested in broadening their personal horizons, should consider:
Purpose Driven Life
Pastor Rick Warren is widely known for being the founder and pastor of the eighth largest megachurch in the United States. He is also widely regarded, within Evangelical circles, for his proficiency as a writer of deep and insightful works. In his book "Purpose Driven Life," Rick addresses the fundamental human need to feel a sense of purpose in one's existence. The book is open, supportive and easy to read. It presents the idea of finding a sense of purpose in something positive, meaningful and fulfilling, without being degrading towards ideas which are not inherently wrong — but may not provide a stable, substantial platform on which to base the entirety of one's life. Rick Warren draws upon personal events to help support his views, including the intensely personal and emotional account of the loss of his own son to suicide.
The Pastor Theologian
In "The Pastor Theologian," Gerald Hiestand and Todd A. Wilson present a view of modern ministry which combines innovative views drawn on ancient wisdom with modern pastoral practices. The point behind the work is fundamentally simple: certain ideas, long fallen by the wayside in Christian ministry, work well hand-in-hand with modern Christian concepts. This concept, combining theological teachings with a more flexible sense of pastoral guidance, is elaborated upon in detail, creating a work which conveys a powerful leadership strategy, with implications both inside and outside of the scope of Christian ministry.
Same-Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life
In this defining work, Pastor Ed Shaw addresses more than one crucial and highly controversial issue within many Christian faiths, issues which have fractured and damaged more than one organization. He presents a nine-point argument defending certain traditional points of view, while framing such matters in a more compassionate and understanding way than what has traditionally been expressed by many religious leaders.
Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Many literature enthusiasts will recognize the name Salman Rushdie, a famed British author of eleven novels to date. "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" features protagonist Haroun seeking out stories in a land of riddles, searching for something to restore hope and vitality to his family and his people. It's a light read, but that easy reading is thick with heartwarming symbolism and profound, easy-to-understand insights, which merge easily with Christian theology and teaching. A deceptively deep work, "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" has helped many pastors connect more viscerally with the modern world, within the scope of a Christian world-view.
An early 20th-century Christian Writer, Flannery O'Connor wrote this novel about sin and redemption, featuring an atheistic protagonist. Hazel Motes returns from the battlefield to find his Tennessee home abandoned, which precipitates an epic journey through the American south, and every drop of wickedness and righteousness it had to offer. This book was penned in the finest Southern Gothic tradition, with the non-believing protagonist Motes so preoccupied by theology and symbolism that it's difficult to avoid the profound concepts underlying each and every page.
For More Information
Many books written by pastors, as well as some produced from a non-theological standpoint, can help the modern Christian come to terms with a world that sometimes seems to be leaving the past behind. Forbes offers this list of recommended reading based on principles of creative leadership in a modern world; for specifically pastoral references, check out the Christian bookshelf on Goodreads.
Related article: The Top 10 Low-Cost Online Master's Degrees in Pastoral Counseling