A careful selection of 100 books is a good library beginning for many churches.

Some books, of course, have more general and comprehensive value than others. Which books are most useful depends in some measure on the local situation.

The following list does not include volumes in systematic theology: each congregation will know what key materials best define its distinctive denominational convictions. Nor does the list include recommended modern fiction. Such titles are actually a kind of specialized service. (A checklist of 400 biblical novels by subject and character, for example, is available from BCH Publications, 1327 Ferndale Street, Anaheim, California, at $1.00.) Since a well-planned church library usually incorporates reading for all ages the supplementary booklist on pages 13–15 suggests some of the many graded materials currently available.

Dr. Arnold P. Ehlert, librarian of Biola College and Talbot Theological Seminary in La Mirada, California, and who helped organize the Church Librarians Association of Southern California in 1955, reminds us that church libraries are really no recent development. Already in A.D. 303 they were considered so important that Diocletian burned many of the book collections in his effort to destroy Christian literature.


A long history also surrounds the American Sunday school library. In 1821 the Female School of St. James’ Church, Philadelphia, opened a small library. St. Paul’s Sunday school in Baltimore listed 236 books in 1829. By 1841 several Sunday schools boasted libraries of 350 to 400 volumes and by 1886 a Sunday School Library Association had been established in this country.

The modern church library movement however dates from around 1940–45 when the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board began to develop church libraries and organized the Church Library Service. For over 15 years it published The Church Library Bulletin, now replaced by The Church Library Magazine. Other denominational groups followed with similar departments. In the early ’50s the Methodist Publishing House formed a Church Library Service and issued a bulletin called Bookmarks and also The Bookshelf, a Booklist for Church Libraries. Presbyterians in 1958 advertised the Westminster Church Library Plan with a manual. Nazarene Publishing House issued a manual on the church library in the mid ’50s. In St. Louis the Christian Literature Commission of the Christian Board of Publication promotes a ten-year reading program called the Disciple Reader’s Plan.

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The following “first 100 books” for a church library represent volumes presently available from their publishers. This basic collection primarily stresses reading and therefore omits some of the more technical manuals useful to teachers, youth leaders, and church workers generally. Most church libraries will systematically add such working tools, of course. The present list covers a broad range of subject matter. Obviously, in some cases other titles could be equally recommended; at best the stated selections are only representative. Denominational churches will be especially alert to materials from their own publishing houses, of course, and to possible cost discounts. Some groups also issue helpful librarians’ handbooks and even catalogues for the church library with books already classified according to the Dewey Decimal System.

Indeed, the church library is an exciting adventure in recognizing and meeting important responsibilities for its present and potential readers. An entire congregation, even a whole community, may experience the far-reaching impact of an effective church library. If it is at all possible to organize a church library, every church should do so, but only with utmost spiritual dedication to the task’s requirements. (Note also the supplementary suggestions on pages 13–15.)


BRUCE, F. F., The English Bible. Oxford, 1961, 234 pages, $4.

CHAFER, L. S., Major Bible Themes. Dunham, 1926, 329 pages, $2.50.

CONYBEARE, W. J. and HOWSON, J. S., The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, Eerdmans, 1949, 850 pages, $5.

CORSWANT, WILLY, A Dictionary of Life in Bible Times. Oxford, 1960, 308 pages, $6.50.

CRUDEN, ALEXANDER, Cruden’s Complete Concordance. Zondervan, 1949, 783 pages, $3.95.

DAVIDSON, F., The New Bible Commentary. (2nd ed.), Eerdmans, 1954, 1199 pages, $7.95.

DAVIS, JOHN, Westminster Dictionary of the Bible. (4th rev. ed.), Baker, 1944, 840 pages, $5.95.

FARRAR, F. W., Life of Christ, World, 1950, 723 pages, $3.50.

HALLEY, HENRY H., Bible Handbook. (22nd ed.), Zondervan, 968 pages, $3.75.

HENRY, CARL F. H., ed., The Biblical Expositor. Holman, 1960, 3 vols., $20.85.

HENRY, MATTHEW, Commentary on the whole Bible, new one volume edition, Leslie F. Church, ed., Zondervan, 1960, 1204 plus 784 pages, $9.95.

Jamieson, Faussett & Brown’s Bible Commentary, The. Eerdmans, 1957, 6 vols., $30.

KRAELING, EMIL G., Rand McNally Bible Atlas. Rand McNally, 1956, 458 pages, $8.95.

LASOR, WILLIAM S., The Amazing Dead Sea Scrolls. Moody, 1956, 251 pages, $3.50.

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MONSER, HAROLD, ed., Cross Reference Bible. Baker, 1910, 2405 pages, $14.95.

ORR, JAMES, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Eerdmans, 1915, 5 vols., $35.

Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press, 1957, 1492 pages, $17.50.

SHORT, A. R., Modern Discovery and the Bible. Inter-Varsity, 1943, 188 pages, $2.50.

SMITH, WILBUR M., A Treasury of Books for Bible Study. Wilde, 1960, 289 pages, $3.95.

STALKER, JAMES, Life of Christ. Zondervan, 1949, 160 pages, $1.25.

STALKER, JAMES, Life of St. Paul. Zondervan, 1949, 160 pages, $1.25.


BLANSHARD, PAUL, American Freedom and Catholic Power. Beacon, 1958, 402 pages, $3.95.

LATOURETTE, KENNETH S., A History of Christianity. Harper, 1953, 1516 pages, $9.50.

MAYER, F. E., Religious Bodies of America. Concordia, 1958, 591 pages, $8.50.

MEAD, FRANK S., Handbook of Denominations in the United States. (2nd rev. ed.), Abingdon, 1961, 272 pages, $2.95.

STUBER, STANLEY L., Primer on Roman Catholicism for Protestants. Association, 1960, 276 pages, $3.50.

VAN BAALEN, J. K., The Chaos of Cults. (Rev. ed.), Eerdmans, 1956, 409 pages, $3.95.

WALKER, WILLISTON, A History of the Christian Church, (rev. by Cyril C. Richardson, Wilhelm Pauck, and Robert T. Handy). Scribner’s, 1959, 585 pages, $6.


CALVIN, JOHN, Institutes of the Christian Religion. (Ed. by John T. McNeill), Westminster, 1960, 2 vols., 1734 pages, $12.50 set.

BERKOUWER, G. C., Studies in Dogmatics (a series of 20 volumes now in translation). Eerdmans, 1952, $3 to $4.50 per volume.

DENNEY, JAMES, The Death of Christ. Inter-Varsity, 1951, 272 pages, $3.50.

GORDON, A. J., The Ministry of the Spirit. Judson, 1895, 225 pages, $2.

HARRISON, EVERETT F., ed., Baker’s Dictionary of Theology. Baker, 1960, 566 pages, $8.95.

HENRY, CARL F. H., ed., Contemporary Evangelical Thought. Channel Press, 1957, 320 pages, $5.

LEWIS, C. S., Mere Christianity. Macmillan, 1958, 175 pages, $2.75.

LEWIS, C. S., The Screwtape Letters. Macmillan, 1943, 160 pages, $2.50.

MACHEN, J. GRESHAM, What is Faith? Eerdmans, 1925, 263 pages, $3.

MIXTER, RUSSELL L., ed., Evolution and Christian Thought Today. Eerdmans, 1954, 224 pages, $4.50.

WALVOORD, JOHN F., The Holy Spirit. Dunham, 1954, 275 pages, $3.50.

WARFIELD, B. B., The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. Presbyterian and Reformed, 1948, 442 pages, $4.95.


EAVEY, CHARLES B., Principles of Teaching for Christian Teachers. Zondervan, 1940, 351 pages, $3.

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GAEBELEIN, FRANK E., Christian Education in a Democracy. Oxford, 1951, 305 pages, $4.

GETZ, GENE, Audio Visuals in the Church. Moody, 1959, 256 pages, $3.95.

HAKES, J. EDWARD, ed., Introduction to Evangelical Christian Education. Moody, 1961, 460 pages, $7.95.

HARBIN, E. O., Fun Encyclopedia. Abingdon, 1940, 1008 pages, $4.95.

HARNER, NEVIN C., Youth Work in the Church. Abingdon, 1943, 222 pages, $2.

HEIM, R. D., Leading a Sunday Church School. Muhlenberg, 1950, 368 pages, $4.75.

LEBAR, LOIS E., Children in the Bible School: The How of Christian Education. Revell, 1952, 382 pages, $4.50.

MAUS, CYNTHIA PEARL, Christ and the Fine Arts. (Rev. ed.), Harper, 1959, 764 pages, $5.95.

RUMPF, OSCAR J., The Use of Audio-Visuals in the Church. Christian Education, 1958, 150 pages, $3.

SWITZ, T. M., and JOHNSTON, R. A., Great Christian Plays. Seabury, 1956, 306 pages, $7.50.


ANDERSON, J. N. D., The World’s Religions. (2nd ed.), Tyndale, 1951.

BAVINCK, J. H., The Impact of Christianity on the Non-Christian World. Eerdmans, 1948, 183 pages, $2.50.

BRUCE, F. F., The Spreading Flame. Eerdmans, 1953, 3 vols. in one, 543 pages, $5.

ELLIOT, ELISABETH, Through Gates of Splendor, Harper, 1957, 256 pages, $3.75.

GLOVER, ROBERT HALL, The Progress of World Wide Missions. (Rev. ed. by Herbert Kane), Harper, 1960, 572 pages, $5.50.

LEAVELL, ROLAND Q., Evangelism: Christ’s Imperative Commission. Broadman, 1951, 234 pages, $3.25.

THIESSEN, J. C., A Survey of Christian Missions. Inter-Varsity, 1955, 504 pages, $5.95.


The Book of Common Worship. Presbyterian, U.S.A.

BENSON, LOUIS F., The Hymnody of the Christian Church. John Knox, 1953, 310 pages, $4.50.

CHAMBERS, OSWALD, My Utmost for His Highest. Dodd, Mead, 1935, 375 pages, $3.

COWMAN, MRS. CHARLES E., Streams in the Desert. Cowman, 1931, 377 pages, $2.50.

EDMAN, V. RAYMOND, They Found the Secret. Zondervan, 1960, 159 pages, $2.50.

HALLESBY, O., Prayer. Augsburg, 1931, 176 pages, $2.

KUYPER, ABRAHAM, The Practice of Godliness. Eerdmans, 1948, 121 pages, $1.50.

MUDGE, JAMES, Poems with Power to Strengthen the Soul. (Revised and enlarged), Abingdon, 1960, 308 pages, $2.50.

SMITH, HANNAH WHITALL, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. Revell, 1952, 248 pages, $1.79.

WALLIS, CHARLES L., Worship Resources for the Christian Year. Harper, 1954, 483 pages, $4.95.


CASHMAN, ROBERT, The Finances of a Church. Harper, 1949, 159 pages, $2.50.

CRAWFORD, JULIUS E., The Steivardship of Life. Abingdon, 1929,176 pages, $1, paper.

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Augustine’s Confessions

BUNYAN, JOHN, Pilgrim’s Progress. Zondervan, 1957, 127 pages, $2.50.

CAIRNS, EARLE E., Saints and Society. Moody, 1960, 192 pages, $3.25.

CLARK, GORDON H., A Christian View of Men and Things. Eerdmans, 1952, 325 pages, $4.

GRAHAM, BILLY, The Secret of Happiness. Doubleday, 1955, 117 pages. $2.

GOULOOZE, WILLIAM, Victory over Suffering. Baker, 1949, 150 pages, $2.

HENRY, CARL F. H., Christian Personal Ethics. Eerdmans, 1957, 615 pages, $6.95.

HOOTON, C. R., What Shall We Say about Alcohol? Abingdon, 1960, 127 pages, $2.

KLAUSLER, ALFRED P., Christ and Your Job. Concordia, 1956,145 pages, $1.50.

MARSHALL, PETER, Mr. Jones, Meet the Master. Revell, 1949, 192 pages, $2.95.

MILLER, RANDOLPH C., Education for Christian Living. Prentice-Hall, 1956, 418 pages, $7.50.

PHILLIPS, J. B., New Testament Christianity. Macmillan, 1956, 107 pages, $2.25.

PRICE, EUGENIA, Woman to Woman. Zondervan, 1959, 241 pages, $2.50.

RYLE, JOHN CHARLES, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots, Kregel, 1952, 333 pages, $3.95.

SANGSTER, W. E., The Secret of the Radiant Life. Abingdon, 1957, 219 pages, $3.

ZYLSTRA, HENRY, Testament of Vision. Eerdmans, 1958, 234 pages, $3.50.


JACOBSEN, MARGARET BAILEY, The Child in the Christian Home. Scripture Press, 1959, 200 pages, $4.50.

MAYNARD, DONALD M., Your Home Can Be Christian. Abingdon, 1952, 160 pages, $1.50.

ROYAL, CAUDIA, Teaching Your Child About God. Revell, 1960, 186 pages, $2.95.

THOMPSON, WILLIAM T., Adventures in Parenthood. John Knox, 1959, 155 pages, $2.50.

WIDMER, FREDERICK W., How Home and Church Can Work Together. John Knox, 1960, 94 pages, $1.50.

WYNN, JOHN CHARLES, How Christian Parents Face Family Problems. Westminster, 1955, 144 pages, $2.50.


ANDERSON, COURTNEY, To the Golden Shore: Life of Adoniram Judson. Little, Brown, 1956, 530 pages, $6.75.

BONAR, ANDREW A., Memoirs, Robert Murray McCheyne. Moody, 1947, 448 pages, $3.50.

DALLMAN, WILLIAM, Martin Luther: His Life and Labor. (Rev. ed.), Concordia, 1951, 262 pages, $3.50.

EATON, JEANETTE, David Livingstone, Foe of Darkness. Morrow, 1947, 256 pages, $3.

GOFORTH, ROSALIND, Goforth of China. Zondervan, 1937, 364 pages, $3.95.

PIERSON, A. T., George Müller of Bristol. Revell, 1941, 462 pages, $2.50.

WALKER, FRANK D., William Carey. Moody, 1951, 256 pages, $2.95.


SIENKIEWICZ, HENRYK, Quo Vadis. Dutton, 1960, 448 pages, $1.95.

WALLACE, LEW, Ben Hur. Dodd, Mead, 1953, 491 pages, $2.95.

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