Continually Sharpening

A theological blog by Janelle Zeeb

Recommended Resources


Here is a list of some of my favourite and highly recommended resources which have played an important role in shaping my theology and Christian worldview. Even if you hold other views, I think these ideas are worth reading and considering.

Of course, this doesn't mean I endorse every point within these books, or everything that these authors have ever written, for no two Christians agree on absolutely everything. But they are some of the best books that I have ever read.

My Top 7

If you only read a few of these, start with these ones:

  1. Simply By Grace by Charles C. Bing.
    A very short and extremely clear presentation of the Free Grace perspective on salvation, good works, discipleship, and how to evangelize. I would say this is my favourite non-Biblical book, and I think that new Christians, mature Christians, and even non-Christians can all benefit from it. It's very affordable and easy to read, and I would highly recommend it to everyone.
  2. Does God Love Everyone? The Heart of What is Wrong with Calvinism by Jerry L. Walls.
    A short and clear introduction into what are the core issues in the Calvinist-Arminian debates over how God's sovereignty interacts with human free will. Upholds the view of God that God genuinely does want all to be saved, and that every person could actually be saved if they don't resist God's prevenient grace.
  3. Is God to Blame? by Gregory Boyd.
    A very encouraging book which discusses how some common Christian views of God's sovereignty regarding human suffering can hurt individuals' relationships with God. Boyd offers his own approach to theodicy which is based on looking at Jesus to tell us what God is like, plus the reality of spiritual warfare, and the idea that we do not know all that is going on in the world and therefore cannot know all the reasons why God allows any particular incident of suffering or evil. Includes many very refreshing interpretations of difficult Scripture verses which are commonly used to attribute all evil to God's will.
  4. Inerrancy and Worldview by Vern Sheridan Poythress.
    A very helpful book which shows how holding traditional Biblical Christian beliefs can be defended philosophically by understanding the presuppositions behind different worldviews. Encourages Christians that we don't have to give in when confronted by challenges to Christianity from scientists, historians, archaeologists, linguists, or secular philosophy.
  5. Heaven by Randy Alcorn.
    For a long time I had the impression that heaven, while better than hell, was going to be boring or bland. This book counters various assumptions we have about heaven with (at times speculative) yet Biblically-based Christian beliefs about bodily resurrection and life on the New Earth, showing some hints of how fabulous it is going to be and why we should live now with heaven in mind.
  6. The Fire that Consumes by Edward William Fudge.
    This is the book that changed my mind about the nature of hell. I am now convinced that annihilation (i.e. eternal destruction) is the proper Biblical understanding of hell. Fudge examines the history of where our views on hell came from, and shows that the eternal conscious torment view is a later misinterpretation of the clear Biblical teaching. I also learned a lot from this book about Biblical interpretation and how our presuppositions can cause us to read different meanings into the words of Scripture than might actually be there.
  7. Most Moved Mover by Clark H. Pinnock.
    A good introduction to the point of view known as "open theism" which argues that God does not need to foreknow every free human choice in order to be sovereign, but allows for true human freedom for loving relationships between God and humans to be possible. I examined Clark Pinnock's views on open theism in my MTS thesis as it relates to the issue of theodicy, and found that it has several advantages compared to more traditional views on God's providence and sovereignty, and is worth seriously considering as a legitimate Christian alternative to Calvinism or Arminianism.

Other Favourites

Other favourite books of mine, sorted according to topic.

Theodicy:

  • Suffering and the Search for Meaning by Richard Rice.
    A short and easy to read introduction to the issues of theodicy and a survey of many popular approaches to the issue in Christian thought, while discussing advantages and disadvantages of each view.
  • Satan and the Problem of Evil by Gregory Boyd.
    Boyd's in-depth argument for the reality of spiritual warfare and how it relates to evil and suffering in the world, from an open-theist point of view.

Providence:

  • The God Who Risks by John Sanders.
    For anyone who wants a more in-depth examination of Biblical support for open theism.
  • Free Will: A Guide for the Perplexed by T. J. Mawson.
    A philosophical examination of compatibilist versus libertarian views on free-will, which argues that libertarian free will (that is, where we are the authors of our own actions and could have chosen to do otherwise) is the only view of free will that allows for true moral responsibility. Helpful if you're interested in the Calvinist-Arminian debates over free will.
  • Arminian Theology by Roger E. Olson.
    A defense of Arminian theology against common Calvinist distortions of it. Also a good introduction to Arminianism.
  • Dispensationalism (Revised and Expanded) by Charles C. Ryrie.
    Ryrie defends a view of Biblical history which divides it into periods of time called dispensations, where God interacts with humanity in different ways, yet where the requirements for salvation are always the same. A helpful approach to Biblical interpretation, as well as an overarching view of what God has been doing in history and where the world is going.

Biblical Interpretation and Inerrancy:

  • The Grace New Testament Commentary edited by Robert N. Wilkin.
    A two-volume commentary on the New Testament from Free Grace perspectives. I haven't read it all yet, but I find it helpful to look at when I find any Bible verse that would seem to suggest that good works or other things besides faith alone in Christ are required for salvation.
  • The Inspiration of the Pentateuch: Or the Graf-Wellhausen Fallacy by M. W. J. Phelan.
    A fascinating look at the first 5 books of the Bible. Phelan argues that they were likely written by Moses, using earlier existing sources that may go as far back as Adam. Using Form Criticism, Phelan refutes the popular claim that these books were assembled by four (or more) unknown editors at a much later date in Israel's history. Also presents some fascinating textual evidence that the Torah is indeed divinely inspired. This is a very encouraging book for anyone who holds to Biblical inerrancy.
  • The Authenticity of the Book of Genesis by Bill Cooper.
    Similar to the above, but more focus on the literary and archaeological evidence that supports the idea that Genesis is written much earlier than higher critics claim. Examines flood stories from cultures around the world, and argues that the Bible's account of Noah's flood is not derived from the Epic of Gilgamesh (as is commonly claimed by critics.)
  • Refuting Compromise by Jonathan Sarfati.
    This is the book that changed my views on the evolution-creation debate, and moved me from being a theistic evolutionist to a young-earth creationist. Sarfati argues that the debate comes down to a question of what is our ultimate authority - the Bible, or incomplete and/or faulty human science. He argues that theistic evolution is incompatible with a straightforward interpretation of Scripture. While this view is unpopular today, Sarfati makes some very good points that are worthy of being considered. Helpful to support arguments for scriptural inerrancy regarding the creation week, and refuting common theistic evolutionist arguments.

Ethics and Social Issues:

  • Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals by William J. Webb.
    As a woman who is in a typically male-dominated field of theology, this book is very helpful to refute the common arguments that women should not teach or preach to men, that women are more easily deceived than men, and various other bad arguments that are often used to keep women from using their God-given gifts in Christian ministry. Also provides helpful ways of reading difficult Old Testament passages about the ancient roles of women and slaves, while showing that God intended us to overcome sexism and slavery in human society, yet without requiring us to say the same about homosexuality.

Eschatology:

  • A Wideness in God's Mercy by Clark Pinnock.
    A hopeful discussion of how God may interact with people who never heard the Gospel, which enables the possibility of their salvation even if they never knew about Christ during their lives, without requiring universalism and while maintaining the centrality of Christ in salvation of all people.
  • The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries: Revelation by John F. Walvoord, Philip E. Ralwey, and Mark Hitchcock.
    My favourite commentary on the Book of Revelation from a pre-millennial, pre-tribulation perspective.
  • The Rapture Question (Revised and Enlarged Edition) by John F. Walvoord.
    A very thorough examination of the Biblical teaching that Christ will return for his Church before the Tribulation. Refutes alternative views on the Rapture and shows that this is a distinct event from Jesus' Second Coming.
  • The Millennial Kingdom by John F. Walvoord.
    A very interesting look at the differences between premillennial, post-millennial, and amillennial eschatology. Walvoord argues that the premillennial view is the one which is most consistent with Scripture and properly distinguishes between Israel and the Church. Also touches on other topics such as the Rapture, the Second Coming of Christ, various judgments, and provides details about what the Millennial Reign of Christ may be like.

Speculative, Yet Very Interesting:

  • Alien Intrusion by Gary Bates.
    Sometimes UFOs and alien encounters are claimed to be proof that the Bible is false, and humans are not the only intelligent creatures in the universe. This book examines the evidence in detail and concludes that the most consistent explanation is that UFOs and aliens are manifestations of demonic activity, with the purpose of deceiving the world and leading people away from Christianity. Helpful to sort out how aliens fit within a Christian worldview.
  • Dragons or Dinosaurs by Darek Isaacs.
    Isaacs argues that the Bible and also many other cultures refer to a creature called the dragon because humans and dinosaurs coexisted. He presents compelling evidence that this is the case. This is a challenge to evolutionary dogma, and a reaffirmation of the Bible's inerrancy.

Documentaries:

Some interesting DVD documentaries I've enjoyed. These are links to publishers' webpages, but you may be able to find these to view on various online video-streaming services or to purchase from other sellers.

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