The TransformedBlog asked the faculty of Western Seminary to give a brief list of the most influential books (other than the Bible) that they have read. Dr. Ron Marrs lists his six most influential books.
1. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
By far this book has had the most impact on my life. The truth of God’s sovereignty changed my way of thinking and built my trust in God. Subsequently, any struggles with reconciling human will with God’s sovereignty were diminished by my rest in the sovereignty of God.
2. Desiring God by John Piper
What a wonderful turn of phrase occurred when Piper changed one word: “The chief end of man is to glorify God by [instead of and] enjoying [enjoy] him forever.” This is based on the fact that “The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever.” What a marvelous statement about worship: “The fuel of worship is the truth of God, the furnace of worship is the spirit of man, and the heat of worship is the vital affections of reverence, contrition, trust, gratitude, and joy.”
3. No Wonder They Call Him the Savior by Max Lucado
What refreshing perspective Lucado brought to the stories of our Savior! I have read “The Gospel of the Second Chance” to people in many settings. “It’s not every day that you find someone who will give you a second chance—much less someone who will give you a second chance every day. But in Jesus, Peter found both.”
4. Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper
Because I love to lead God’s people in music and because I am passionate about global missions, I was thrilled to read this statement: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. Bur worship abides forever. Worship is therefore the fuel and goal in missions. It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God.”
5. People of the Lie by Scott Peck
This book helped me think about human evil and the absolute necessity for Christians to fight against the evil which seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. The chapter on group evil displayed in Vietnam at the My Lai massacre was an incredible discussion of how people will act in a group situation that they would never do otherwise.
6. Sin by G.C. Berkouwer
Over and over I have used the thought that “sin does not make sense”. We try to figure out why bad things happen and very often we come to no understanding. I have stopped in my search for an answer in complex situations at times because I have concluded that I will never be able to make sense of it. There is no easy answer to why we would refuse to obey the God who loves us. There is no reason why we do mean things to those whom we love except for the fact of sin in us.
About Ron Marrs
Ron Marrs is presently a Professor of Youth and Pastoral Ministry and Chairman of the Center for Ministry and Leadership at Western Seminary, Portland, OR. Ron is the leader of the Portland Youth Workers Network. He served at Westwood Baptist Church, a Converge church, for 24.5 years primarily as the youth pastor and then as executive/worship pastor. He has been married to Becky for 35 years, has three children and three grandsons. He is an elder at Hinson Baptist Church. He recently completed doctoral research in which he interviewed 26 people about their rookie youth pastor experiences along with 24 of their supervisors.