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If you want to be changed, read a good book. Or so said A. W. Tozer: "The things you read will fashion you by slowly conditioning your mind." Of the millions of books published this century, only a few hundred have shaped people in extraordinary ways. Here are some of those—100 books that had a significant effect on Christians this century.

Christianity Today asked more than 100 of its contributors and church leaders to nominate the ten best religious books of the twentieth century. By best books, we meant those that not only were important when first published, but also have enduring significance for the Christian faith and church. We have included books which do not always prompt agreement, but which are important for evangelical Christians to read and contend with. A few "period" pieces also made the list of 90.

By far, C. S. Lewis was the most popular author and Mere Christianity the book nominated most often. Indeed, we could have included even more Lewis works, but finally we had to say: "Enough is enough; give some other authors a chance."

Readers are welcome to send us their own nominations of the top ten religious books of the twentieth century, with comments.


1. C. S. Lewis

Mere Christianity

The best case for the essentials of orthodox Christianity in print.
2. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Cost of Discipleship

Leaves you wondering why you ever thought complacency or compromise in the Christian life was an option.
3. Karl Barth

Church Dogmatics

Opened a new era in theology in which the Bible, Christ, and saving grace were taken seriously once more.
4. J. R. R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings (trilogy)

A classic for children from 9 to 90. Bears constant re-reading.
5. John Howard Yoder

The Politics of Jesus

Some 30 years after ...
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April 24, 2000

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