The TransformedBlog asked the faculty of Western Seminary to give a brief list of the most influential books that they have read. Dr. Todd Miles lists his top 7 most influential books.
Knowing God by J. I. Packer
I read this in college. Packer caused me to think about the majesty of God in a manner that I had never attempted. I didn’t realize it, but this was my introduction to a systematic treatment of the doctrine of God. It changed the way I read the Bible.
Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
I read this in graduate school. I had grown up a thorough-going Arminian, but had begun to question and shift those commitments in college. Bridges’ treatment of the sovereignty of God was world-altering. His explanation that God does not do anything that does not bring him glory, nor does he do anything that does not ultimately bless his children – and those two things are never in conflict, has stuck with me. I could feel my paradigms shifting as I read.
I also read these two books in graduate school. Both caused me to think deeply about the relationship between faith and works.
No Place for Truth by David Wells
Wells’ clarion alert that the Church was losing its way with regard to the place of truth and its commitment to understanding, applying, and obeying God’s Word convinced me that I had to go to seminary. I finished the book and enrolled at Western Seminary. I never looked back.
Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John Frame
I read this during my Ph.D. studies and I still remember the “Where have you been all my life?” feeling as I devoured the book. Epistemology is foundational to everything in theology. Frame won me over and now I anxiously await everything that he writes. No other writer has been more personally influential on my theology and teaching.
The Kingdom of Christ by Russell Moore
I read this after beginning my teaching career at Western Seminary. I was struggling to reconcile my Dispensational and Reformed commitments. Moore convinced me that I was not crazy. He also helped me shape my convictions on the relationship between Word and Deed in the Kingdom of God.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
I would be remiss if I did not include my favorite book of all time. I read it first as a sixth grader and have read it well over a dozen times since. It is an old friend that sits faithfully on my shelf waiting for me; it is the only book that I now pick up and start reading at various places because the context of the entire story is so well known to me. Tolkien sparked my imagination; he introduced me to the importance of story, heroic narrative, worldview, and literary genre. Every time I read the account of Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn, I appreciate the power of the biblical redemptive story and how each of us have been called to play a part. My favorite chapter is “The Houses of Healing,” because it makes me yearn for the return of Jesus Christ. If I were stranded on a desert island with only two books, I would want the Bible and LOTR (the books). (I would also want a GPS and a powerful satellite communications system, but that is another matter . . .)
About Todd Miles
Dr. Todd Miles is the Director of the Master of Theology Program and Associate Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. Before his doctoral studies Todd was a Research Engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for ten years. Now Todd teaches Systematic Theology, Hermeneutics, and Ethics at Western Seminary. Todd serves as an elder at Hinson Memorial Baptist Church in Portland and is the author of "A God of Many Understandings? The Gospel and Theology of Religions" (Nashville: B&H, 2010).