Most Influential Christian Books

After a search across the internet for the most influential texts in Christian history came up empty, I decided to create my own.  It is admittedly biased toward western, evangelical, Protestant books with a skew toward more recent publications.  I define influential based on the number of people impacted, its prevalence and persistence as a key seminary text or its consideration as foundational to a specific denomination.  I’m sure there are a lot of gaps on the list, so I’d love your ideas for how to improve the it.  It’s ordered by date and includes texts such as creeds and Bible translations.

  • The Didiche (~100)
  • Against Heresies (180) – Irenaeus
  • On the Incarnation (318) – Athanasius
  • Nicean Creed (325)
  • Codex Sinaiticus (mid-300s)
  • Life of Antony (360) – Athanasius
  • Confessions (400) – Augustine
  • Latin Vulgate (405) – Jerome
  • City of God (413-426) – Augustine
  • Creed of Chacedon (451)
  • The Rule of St Benedict (530) – Benedict
  • The Philokalia (400-1500) – Various
  • On Loving God (1128) – Bernard
  • Book of Sentences (1150) – Peter Lombard
  • Summa Theoligica (1272) – Thomas Aquinas
  • Revelations of Love – Julian of Norwich
  • Imitation of Christ (1418-1427) – Thomas a Kempis
  • Gutenberg Bible (1456)
  • 95 Theses (1517) – Martin Luther
  • Bondage of the Will (1525) – Martin Luther
  • German Bible translation (1522, 1534) – Martin Luther
  • Commentary on Galatians (1535) – Luther
  • Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) – John Calvin
  • The Divine Comedy (1555) – Dante Alighieri
  • Acts and Monuments (aka Foxe’s Book of Martyrs) (1563) – John Fox
  • Dark Night of the Soul (1584) – John of the Cross
  • Spiritual Exercises (1522-1524) – Ignatius
  • Common Book of Prayer (1549) – Thomas Cranmer
  • Heidelberg Catechism (1563)
  • King James Bible (1611)
  • Westminster Confession (1646)
  • Death of Death (1647) – John Owen
  • Reformed Pastor (1657) – Richard Baxter
  • Paradise Lost (1667) – John Milton
  • Pensees (1669) – Blaise Pascal
  • Pia Desideria (1675) – Philip Jacob Spener
  • Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) – John Bunyan
  • Institutes of Elenctic Theology (1679-1685) – Francis Turretin
  • Attributes of God (1682) – Stephen Charnock
  • New England Primer (1687)
  • Body of Divinity (1692) – Thomas Watson
  • Practice of the Presence of God (~1700) – Brother Lawrence/Joseph de Beaufont
  • Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707) – Isaac Watts
  • Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728) – William Law
  • Religious Affections (1746) – Jonathan Edwards
  • Diary of David Brainerd (1749) – Jonathan Edwards
  • Plain Account of Christian Perfection (1766) – John Wesley
  • Lectures on Revival (1835) – Charles Finney
  • Missionary Travels (1857) – David Livingstone
  • Holiness (1877) – JC Ryle
  • Systematic Theology (1871) – Charles Hodge
  • Diary of George Muller – George Muller
  • In His Steps (1897) – Charles Sheldon
  • Lectures on Calvinism (1898) – Abraham Kuyper
  • Quest for the Historical Jesus (1906) – Albert Schweitzer
  • Orthodoxy (1908) – GK Chesterton
  • The Scofield Study Bible (1909) – Cyrus Scofield
  • The Fundamentals (1910-1915) – RA Torrey
  • Christianity and Liberalism (1923) – J Gresham Machen
  • My Utmost for His Highest (1924) – Oswald Chambers
  • Church Dogmatics (1932 – 1967) – Karl Barth
  • Cost of Discipleship (1937) – Dietrich Bonheoffer
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) – CS Lewis
  • Christ and Culture (1951) – Richard Neibuhr
  • Mere Christianity (1952) – CS Lewis
  • Late Great Planet Earth (1970) – Hal Lindsey
  • Knowing God (1973) – JI Packer
  • The Celebration of Discipline (1978) – Richard Foster
  • Desiring God (1986) – John Piper
  • The Purpose Driven Life (2002) – Rick Warren

The list is compiled from a variety of sources, but one of the most interesting is this bake off for the best Christian book of all-time

For a list of the top 100 events in Christian history, look through this issue of Christian History magazine.

About PS

The mission of James’ Mirror is to guide you to Christian resources such as books, articles and sermons that will enhance your knowledge of God (doctrine) and encourage your obedience to Him (discipleship).
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6 Responses to Most Influential Christian Books

  1. Pingback: The All-Time Most Influencial Christian Books | Thinking Out Loud

  2. Pingback: Most Influencial Christian Books | Christian Book Shop Talk

  3. Reece says:

    “The Purpose Driven Life” – really??? I hopped on the band wagon, bought the book and was so disappointed. I lost my copy some years ago and have missed it.
    So how about Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing about Grace?” Or in recent times “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller? Or Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together”?

    • PS says:

      I didn’t suggest that they were good books or worthy of reading; only that they were influential. It’s hard to ignore The Purpose Driven Life based on the number of copies sold.

  4. Reece says:

    *haven’t* missed it.

  5. itunu says:

    I’m still baffled at people who say funny things about The Purpose Driven Life. In most cases it’s simply just out of ignorance, envy or pride. You don’t have to agree with everything in a book before you can find it helpful. This book has provided answers to life’s biggest questions and has helped millions become better Christians. Forget about 35,000,000 copies sold…this book is a blessing!

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