I’m compiling a reading list for the bookstall on our church conference (camp, house party or whatever you call it!) on the topic of holiness and santification.
Here’s what I’ve listed, but what would you add?
Readers of this blog will remember that I want to make sure the positional aspect of holiness – in Christ – is not marginalised by solely focussing on the progressive aspect. So I’ll make sure books by our speaker, David Peterson, are there:
- Possessed by God: A New Testament theology of sanctification and holiness (Apollos, 1995).
- Transformed by God: New Covenant Life and Ministry (IVP, 2012).
But these are academic works, and most congregation members won’t read them. So where to begin?
I’d start with Chappo, and his simple, biblical, inimitable style!
- A Sinner’s Guide to Holiness (Matthias Media, 2005) – it defines holiness simply, beginning with God and his distinct set-apartness, and including its moral aspect, and how comes through Christ, before moving on to progress and fulfilment.
- A Foot in Two Worlds (Matthias Media, 2009) – subtitled “The Joy and Struggle of the Normal Christian Life”, it deals briefly with the new creation as “an environment perfect for holy people”, talks of “the Holy Spirit – our helper and guarantee”, grapples with the tension between now and not yet, and warns of pitfalls like claims for “entire sanctification” now.
Both Chappo’s books are short, clear, and straightforward in a gospel-driven way. (Sorry to use such the cliche, but it’s true!)
I think I’d also stock a couple of Jerry Bridges’ titles, also very readable and biblical, but a little longer than Chappo’s titles.
- The Pursuit of Holiness – first published back in the 80s. Although this book focuses very helpfully and scripturally on making progress in holiness (the title comes from Hebrews 12:14), it does not neglect a basic foundation of holiness based in God himself and secured in Christ. One small critique is that in this book, Bridges tends to establish our holiness in Christ more in terms of justification language than in the equally biblically positional sanctification language (that I outlined in the article mentioned earlier).
- The Discipline of Grace – Bridges wrote this title almost two decades later to make even more clear the critical role of God’s grace in making holiness and its pursuit possible. Wonderfully refreshing. Preach the gospel to yourself!
And lastly, slightly tangential, but still relevant to the topic of holiness, I’d stock
- Engaging with the Holy Spirit (Apollos, 2007) by Graham Cole, which looks at six commonly asked questions about the Holy Spirit, including how we can resist him or quench him or grieve him, and positively how he fills us.
I’m sure there are other excellent and accessible books worth recommending on holiness and sanctification, but I’d like you to do the work now.
What do you suggest and why? (And please let me know whether or not your suggestion only or mainly speaks of sanctification in progressive terms.)