I love lists—Top 10 this, Top 50 that. They're great conversation starters, because they bring out the lawyer in us all. Everyone has opinions on why something should be higher, lower, added, or left off the list entirely.
But too much of a good thing makes it no longer good, and the year 2000 has seen a few too many lists (Christian History's list of the 10 most influential Christians of the twentieth century not being one of the too many). In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if someone is generating a list of the Top 50 moments in twentieth century bonsai.
Nonetheless, 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century (Revell) is a list worth reading. This is not just a list, but a 222-page book that follows the streams of Christian thought, particularly the evangelical variety, over the last 100 years. Written by father and son duo William and Randy Petersen, this easy-to-read volume provides a helpful overview of what Christians have been thinking and doing in the areas of popular culture, missions, apologetics, literature, and theology. They've tried to include a sampling of works from each decade, and unless you're 105 with a killer memory, many of the early books will be new to you and worth getting to know.
Most entries include some information about the author, a description of the book's content, reasons for the book's significance, and a sprinkling of quotes from quotable people. Readers who even merely skim this book will be impressed at just how powerful the written word remains.
In their preface, the Petersens wisely admit that they did not necessarily choose the best Christian books of the century. They also are forthright about their evangelical bias. They acknowledge that their choices are ultimately subjective.
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