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25 theologians to help broaden your faith

We asked 30 United Church ministers from across Canada to tell us which authors and books they would recommend to people in the pews — besides the Bible, of course. Here are their top picks.

By Observer Staff

1. Marcus J. Borg is an American theologian and a prominent voice among contemporary Jesus scholars. He is the author of 19 books.

Try: The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions (1999), co-authored with N.T. Wright, or The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church’s Conservative Icon (2009), co-authored with John Dominic Crossan

2. Douglas John Hall is a United Church minister and emeritus professor of theology at McGill University in Montreal, where he served on the faculty from 1975 to 1995. He has written 16 books.

Try: Why Christian?: For Those on the Edge of Faith (1998)

3. John Dominic Crossan is a former Catholic priest who co-founded the Jesus Seminar, a group of 150 biblical scholars trying to establish the historicity of the deeds and sayings of Jesus.

Try: Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (1994) or God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now (2007)

4. C. S. Lewis was an Irish-born British writer, lay theologian and proponent of Christian apologetics, a branch of theology that aims to present a rational defence of the Christian faith.

Try: Mere Christianity (1952) or his children’s novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

5. Karen Armstrong is a former Roman Catholic nun who has written more than 20 books on faith, studying what Islam, Judaism and Christianity have in common and how they’ve shaped world history and modern culture.

Try: The Bible: A Biography (2007)

6. Barbara Brown Taylor teaches religion at Piedmont College in Georgia. An Episcopal priest since 1984, she is the author of 12 books and a contributing editor at Sojourners magazine.

Try: An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith (2009)

7. Annie Dillard is the author of 13 books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974). Her website says she has “no religion, or many religions.”

Try: Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (1982)

8. Robert McAfee Brown was an American theologian and Presbyterian minister. He taught religion at Stanford University, where he was a civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activist.

Try: The Bible Speaks to You (1955)

9. Thomas Berry was a Catholic priest of the Passionist order, cultural historian and eco-theologian. He is famous for proposing that a deep understanding of the history and functioning of the evolving universe is necessary for our own functioning as individuals.

Try: Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community (2006)

10. John Shelby Spong, a retired American Episcopal bishop, is a liberal Christian theologian and author. He calls for a fundamental rethinking of Christian belief, away from theism and traditional doctrines.

Try: Eternal Life: A New Vision (2009)

11. Karl Barth was an influential Swiss Reformed Christian theologian. In 1935, he left a professorship in Germany after refusing to swear allegiance to Hitler.

Try: Epistle to the Romans (1922)

12. Frederick Buechner is an American writer and theologian, a Presbyterian minister and the author of more than 30 books.

Try: Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons (2006)

13. Elizabeth Johnson is a Christian feminist theologian and a professor of theology at Fordham University, a Jesuit school in New York City.

Try: Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God (2007)

14. Margaret Laurence was a Canadian novelist and short story writer. Raised in the United Church, she attended Lakefield (Ont.) United in her later years.

Try: The Stone Angel (1964)

15. Jürgen Moltmann is a German Reformed theologian.

Try: God in Creation: An Ecological Doctrine of Creation (1985)

16. Marilynne Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and essayist.

Try: Gilead (2004)

17. Dorothee Sölle was a German liberation theologian, writer, activist and poet. She coined the term “Christofascism” to describe the Christian church’s embrace of authoritarian theology.

Try: Thinking About God: An Introduction to Theology (1990)

18. Phyllis Tickle is the founding editor of the religion department of Publishers Weekly, the international journal of the book industry. She is an authority on religion in America.

Try: The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why (2008)

19. Kathleen Norris is an American poet and essayist. She became a Benedictine oblate in 1986 and has written bestselling books on Christian spirituality and monasticism.

Try: Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith (1998)

20. Matthew Fox, an American priest and theologian, is a proponent of Creation Spirituality. A prolific author, he joined the Episcopal Church after being expelled from the Dominican order of the Roman Catholic Church.

Try: Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality Presented in Four Paths, Twenty-Six Themes, and Two Questions (1983)

21. John Polkinghorne is a British theoretical physicist and theologian who has written numerous books on the relationship between science and religion. Prior to becoming an Anglican priest, he taught physics at the University of Cambridge.

Try: The Faith of a Physicist (1994)

22. John Haught is a Roman Catholic theologian and senior research fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, D.C. He has written several books about the science of evolution as it relates to religion.

Try: Deeper than Darwin: The Prospect for Religion in the Age of Evolution (2003)

23. Walter Brueggeman is an American Old Testament scholar and Protestant theologian.

Try: An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible (2009)

24. Martin Marty, a Lutheran religious scholar, is professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He has written extensively on religion in America.

Try: The Christian World: A Global History (2007)

25. N.T. Wright is a New Testament scholar and defender of the historical Jesus. He is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England.

Try: The Resurrection of the Son of God (2003)


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