Top 5 Recommended Books on the Church (Ecclesiology)

The church is an extremely important part of our Christian life, and yet some people have failed to see the importance of it. What follows in this post is my top 5 recommended books on the Church. But today is your lucky day, I also include my favorite piece on the Church of all time but it is an article so I didn’t include it in my top 5 books.

#1 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York City: Harper One, 2009).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) is a German theologian who was martyred during World War II at Flossenburg concentration camp by the Nazis. It became illegal to be a part of what was known as the “Confessing Church.” Because it was illegal, the seminaries had to move underground and be in hiding. Life Together is Bonhoeffer’s reflection on the fellowship he had with his students while teaching in the underground seminaries. In this book he gives practical advice on how biblical fellowship can be had and sustained by Christians. This book MUST be read by all Christians for it gives such beautiful insight into true Christian fellowship from the perspective of someone who lived at a time when Christian fellowship was extremely difficult and could have gotten you into trouble and even thrown in prison or killed.

Quote:“I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me.” pg. 86

Readability: Easy

Recommended reader: The Beginning Theologian+ (Basically everyone MUST read this!)

Quality rating: 5 stars

Price:$11.51 (Amazon)

Pages: 128

#2 James Torrance, Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1997).

James Torrance (1923-2003) was a Scottish theologian and son of Chinese missionaries. He was the brother of theologians Thomas and David Torrance and is the father of theologian Alan Torrance (Who I have had the immense honor to meet:). In a time where the church has become concerned with the how of worship Dr. Torrance points us back to the WHO of worship. He argues for this on the basis of trinitarian theology. He makes the case that the doctrine of the Trinity has become important for the creeds but has become a distant thought when we speak of worship. This book is a beautiful work on the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity and our life in the church.

Quote:“Grace means that God gives Himself to us as God, freely and unconditionally, to be worshiped and adored. But grace also means that God comes to us in Jesus Christ as man, to do for us and in us what we cannot do.” pg. 65

Readability: Easy

Recommended reader: The Beginning Theologian+ (Basically everyone MUST read this!)

Quality rating: 5 stars

Price:$11.99 (Amazon)

Pages: 130

#3 Gregg Allison, Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012).

This book is part of the Foundations of Evangelical Theology series and is more like a textbook than the previous two so it can be more dry than others on this list. But, I believe that Allison does a fantastic job giving a more comprehensive work covering the breadth of ecclesiology. He attempts to answer questions such as “what is the relationship of the new testament church to Israel?” “what is the relationship of the church to the kingdom of God?” and of course “what is the church and how does it operate?” This is a good book to use for a comprehensive guide to the whole doctrine of the church that is grounded in scripture and shows the reader how this doctrine answers practical questions. While the readability is moderate I listed the recommended reader as the beginning theologian so that the beginning theologian can gain a solid foundation of information concerning the church. So I suggest you take your time and work through this book slowly.

Quote:“To begin with the obvious, if you are reading this book, you are probably involved in a church, so you have already experienced the reality of the doctrine I am treating.” pg. 27.

Readability: Moderate

Recommended reader: The Beginning Theologian+

Quality rating: 5 stars

Price:$29.48 (Amazon)

Pages: 496

#4 Mark Dever, The Church: The Gospel Made Visible (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2012). 

This book is part of the 9 Marks series from the 9 marks ministry which is designed to equip church leaders to with a “biblical vision and practical resources for displaying God’s glory to the nations through healthy churches” ( This book is a very easy entrance into the doctrine of the church. Dever splits his book into 3 parts. The first part covers what scripture says specifically regarding the nature and attributes of the church. Part two covers the historical understanding of the church. The last part brings together scripture and history (the first two parts) to come to the practical understanding of the church today and what attributes are symptom of a healthy, biblical church.

Quote:“The church arises only from the gospel. And a distorted church usually coincides with a distorted gospel. Whether it leads to such distortions or results from them, serious departures from the Bible’s teaching about the church normally signify other, more central misunderstandings about the Christian faith.” pg. x.

Readability: Easy

Recommended reader: The Beginning Theologian+

Quality rating: 4 stars

Price:$11.32 (Amazon)

Pages: 208

#5 Everett Ferguson, Frank A. James III and John Woodbridge, Church History Vol 1 & 2 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013).

To understand the church today we must take the time to understand the history of the church. These two volumes have made Church history accessible to anyone who can read. It is written in easy to understand language and captures your attention from the first page. Volume 1 covers from Christ to Pre-Reformation and Volume 2 covers from the Pre-Reformation to Present day. It is a long work but well worth the read if you want to get an easy to understand history of the church.

Quote: “History necessarily entails some attention to names, external events, and the sequence of development, but the student should look beyond these things to the religious life of the people involved and grasp the perspective that this is the story of people.” vol 1. pg. 1 of the preface.

Readability: Easy

Recommended reader: The Beginning Theologian+

Quality rating: 5 stars

Price:Vol 1 $33.32; Vol 2 $36.98 (Amazon)

Pages: Vol I- 544; Vol 2- 864

BONUS Article:

T.F. Torrance, “What is the Church?” The Ecumenical Review, vol. 11, 1958, 6-21.

This has to be one of my favorite pieces written on the Church of all time (This may be because T.F. Torrance is my favorite theologian to read:). Torrance explains that while there are many metaphors describing the church, he argues that the most significant metaphor is that of the “Body of Christ.” He believes this is so for many reasons but the main reason is that this metaphor is the most Christological of them all. This is important because Christ is the “essence of the Church” (pg. 7). For Torrance, this completely changes what we think of the church and how we relate to each other in the church. I think that everyone who is a Christian MUST read this short, yet profound, article.

Quote:“It belongs to the function of the Church, then, to enter into history in the service of reconciliation, to live out its divine life in the midst of the world’s dividedness, and by living as well as witnessing, to bring men into the fellowship of healing and peace with God.” pg. 19.

Readability: Easy

Recommended reader: The Beginning Theologian+ (Basically everyone MUST read this!)

Quality rating: 5 stars

Price:If you want this article contact me.

Pages: 17

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