On My Shelf helps you get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers.
I asked John Stonestreet—president of The Chuck Colson Center, co-host of BreakPoint, and co-author of A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World—about what’s on his nightstand, books he re-reads, books that have shaped his understanding of politics and public life, and more.
What books are on your nightstand right now?
- Craig Bartholomew’s Contours of the Kuyperian Tradition [read TGC’s review]—a terrific look at the life and theological contribution of Abraham Kuyper, with a good taste of Herman Bavinck and others along the way.
- Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations [read TGC’s review], in which Friedman shows why he should’ve waited another year or two before writing The World Is Flat—or at least until after 2007.
- The Book of Common Prayer.
What’s one book you wish every evangelical read and why?
Only one? J. I. Packer’s Knowing God—the best integrative theological and doxological book I’ve ever read.
What are your favorite fiction books?
For me, it’s still The Chronicles of Narnia, mainly because I’ve been journeying through them for the last decade with my daughters, but also because I love finding so many of Lewis’s ideas embedded in the characters and plot lines. However, my middle daughter is midway through Middle-earth, so Lord of the Rings is a close second.
Which books have most shaped your thinking on politics and public life?
- How Now Shall We Live? by Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey. It was, for me, a definitive piece of the worldview puzzle.
- The Way of the (Modern) World: Or, Why It’s Tempting to Live as If God Doesn’t Exist by Craig Gay. A thorough analysis of secularism, secularization, and the practical atheism embedded in late modernism, and the footnotes alone are more than worth the price of the book.
- Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview by Al Wolters, my first and most important introduction to Kuyperian thought. It exposed the inherent dualisms in my own thinking.
- The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis. Lewis’s most prophetic work, in my view.
What are some books you regularly re-read and why?
- Packer’s Knowing God. For one reason: his convicting explanation of the difference between knowing about God and knowing God.
- The Gospel of John. It’s truly, as many have said, the book in which a child can wade and an elephant can swim.
- Steven Garber’s The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior. It remains the best book on Christian education I know of, and one of the most important on discipleship. Garber was talking about the importance of the Augustinian idea of our loves before it became cool to do so, and he masterfully wove those insights into community life and mentoring.
What are you learning about life and following Jesus?
I’m learning the importance of daily and familial liturgies, those habits of life and worship essential to navigating culture today and forming identity in Christ. This is the everyday stuff of following Jesus as a man and as a dad.
Also in the On My Shelf series: J. Todd Billings • Sam Storms • Greg Thornbury • Barton Swaim • Jen Pollock Michel • George Marsden • Andrew Wilson • Sally Lloyd-Jones • Darryl Williamson • D. A. Horton • Carl Ellis • Owen Strachan • Thomas Kidd • David Murray • Jarvis Williams • Gracy Olmstead • Matthew Hall • Drew Dyck • Louis Markos • Ray Ortlund • Brett McCracken • Mez McConnell • Erik Raymond • Sandra McCracken • Tim Challies • Sammy Rhodes • Karen Ellis • Alastair Roberts • Scott Sauls • Karen Swallow Prior • Jackie Hill Perry • Bruce Ashford • Jonathan Leeman • Megan Hill • Marvin Olasky • David Wells • John Frame • Rod Dreher • James K. A. Smith • Randy Alcorn • Tom Schreiner • Trillia Newbell • Jen Wilkin • Joe Carter • Timothy George • Tim Keller • Bryan Chapell • Lauren Chandler • Mike Cosper • Russell Moore • Jared Wilson • Kathy Keller • J. D. Greear • Kevin DeYoung • Kathleen Nielson • Thabiti Anyabwile • Elyse Fitzpatrick • Collin Hansen • Fred Sanders • Rosaria Butterfield • Nancy Guthrie • Matt Chandler