*** DEBUG END ***

Best Christian books: the debate continues

24 October 2014


From Professor Richard Bauckham

Sir, - The omission of Calvin's Institutes from the Church Times list of 100 Best Christian Books is bewildering, as two correspondents have already indicated (Letters, 17 October). Almost as astonishing is the absence of anything by Martin Luther (The Freedom of a Christian would have been the most obvious choice). But, if we also take account of the comments of one of the judges on Foxe's Book of Martyrs ("a terrible book, in every sense"), which was evidently included in the list only with very strong misgivings, it looks as though the judges would prefer us to forget the Reformation. Is it accidental that Foxe's Book of Martyrs is followed immediately in the list by Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars - as an antidote?

Other books that, I think, deserve to be on such a list include (in chronological order): Athanasius, On the Incarnation; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History; Thomas of Celano, Two Lives of St Francis of Assisi; Alexander Carmichael (ed.), Carmina Gadelica; John Baillie, And the Life Everlasting; Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society; Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope (just as ground-breaking and influential as The Crucified God) and The Way of Jesus Christ (my favourite among his later books); Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology; and Wendell Berry, New Collected Poems.

All of these (like most on the list of 100) can be highly recommended to contemporary readers, whereas a few books on the list of 100 are books one should know about (because they were of critical importance in their time), but from which there is little to be gained by actually reading now. I would put Lux Mundi and Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus in that category.


11 Archway Court

Cambridge CB3 9LW


From the Revd Dr C. J.-B. Hammond

Sir, - St Augustine (Letters, 17 October) was brought up in North Africa, of Berber blood on his mother's side and perhaps on his father's, too. But he was dismissive of both the native African language and people (Berber, Libyan), and the Semitic (Phoenician, Punic). Moreover, he dedicated all his energies as Bishop of Hippo (also in North Africa) to exterminating Donatism; and Donatism was not only - or even principally - a doctrinal heresy, but a separatist movement founded on African identity (tied to the Donatist Church) rather than Roman (tied to the Catholic Church).

So if you want to claim him as an African, you have to accept that he was a traitor to his own blood and people, who embraced the culture, religion (Catholic Christianity), and, above all, language of Rome, not Africa.

It's all a bit irrelevant to the appraisal of his works as they challenge us today.


Gonville and Caius College

Cambridge CB2 1TA

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)