Ever since Moses, Christians have been writing books. These books have been written in stone, on papyrus, and in codices. They’ve been stored in scrolls, museums, and Amazon’s cloud. They’ve been read in catacombs, monasteries, churches, and subways. They have incited revolutions, sparked reform, and hit the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Culture and the world at large have been shaped by Christian authors.
Top 10 Christian Authors of All Time
But who are these authors? They are martyrs, saints, scholars, missionaries, preachers, tinkers, and shepherds. There are thousands of them, maybe millions. Some are well known. Others are unknown. Some are good. Others are really good. Selecting a mere ten Christian authors from two millennia of church history is like trying to choose a “favorite” Bible verse. It’s not easy to do, and not fair to the 31,092 (verses) that don’t get picked.But in the interest of your patience and this article’s brevity, I’ve chosen ten Christian authors who have shaped Christianity.
1. John Bunyan (1628-1688)
The dank putrid discomfort of a 17th century English dungeon is not an ideal location to pen one of the world’s best sellers. John Bunyan, however, wasn’t trying to write a bestseller. He was writing from his heart in response to the needs that he saw around him. Today, his allegory Pilgrim’s Progress is the second bestselling book of all time, trailing only the Bible in the number of copies sold. Bunyan wrote many other books, many of which are similar to the Pilgrim’s Progress in their allegorical power and literary beauty. Although he spent much of his ministry years in prison, God used Bunyan to liberate many from a spiritual prison. You can feel Bunyan’s pathos and power in every page he wrote.
- Pilgrims Progress
- The Holy War
- The Life and Death of Mr. Badman
- Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
- Saved by Grace,
- A Holy Life
2. C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)
C.S. Lewis is one of the most popular Christian writers. He has been celebrated in film, praised by critics, and read by millions of Christians and non-Christians alike. Most know him as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Lewis authored many other books during his lifetime. He wasn’t just a novelist. He was an academic, a radio personality, a scholar, a poet, and even a soldier.
Lewis knew what it was like to struggle with doubt and to grapple with the perplexities of the Christian faith. Perhaps this is why his works resonate so deeply with modern readers. Christians would do well to read more of Lewis’s works, and would benefit from the depth of his relationship with Christ.
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- Mere Christianity
- The Allegory of Love
- The Screwtape Letters
- The Space Trilogy
- Till We Have Faces
- Surprised by Joy
3. Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
Oswald Chambers was a Scottish evangelist who is recognized for founding the Holiness movement. His ministry of teaching and preaching focused on the character of God, and how God’s character should shape a Christian’s behavior.
Chambers’s most notable book My Utmost for His Highest, is a popular devotional book. It contains a short entry to be read for each day of the year. The book has never been out of print since it was first published posthumously in 1935. It has been translated into nearly 40 languages and cherished by millions of Christians.
- My Utmost for His Highest
- If You Will Ask
- Love, a Holy Command
- Hope, a Holy Promise
4. G.K Chesterton (1874-1936)
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, or better known by his pen-name as G. K. Chesterton, was an English writer, philosopher, lay theologian, poet, dramatist, journalist, biographer, and Christian apologist. G.K.C. is known as one of the more witty and readable writers on Christian doctrine with popular books such as Orthodoxy, and the but also known for his popular Father-Brown mystery novels. In spite of his literary accomplishments, he considered himself primarily a journalist. He wrote over 4000 newspaper essays, including 30 years worth of weekly columns for the Illustrated London News, and 13 years of weekly columns for the Daily News.
- The Man Who Was Thursday
- The Everlasting Man
5. A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)
Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God has shaped the lives of countless Christians. Tozer was an American pastor whose ministry was marked by intense prayer, selflessness, and devotion. Tozer wrote more than 40 books, many of which are still widely read. Two of his books are considered Christian classics, The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy.
Some consider Tozer a “mystic,” referring to his emphasis on spiritual indwelling and a holy lifestyle. It is more helpful to think of Tozer as a man who was deeply committed to following God and living like Christ.
- Paths to Power
- Let My People Go
- The Root of the Righteous
- Born after Midnight
6. St. Augustine (354-430)
Reading Augustine isn’t easy, but how many other authors can claim 18 centuries of popularity? Augustine was the bishop of Hippo in modern-day Algeria. His personal saga of conversion has become one of the best-known salvation stories in Christianity.
Augustine grappled with the hot-topic issues of Christianity in his day, doing battle with ancient heretics like Pelagius. The hot-topic issues of Augustine’s day are no less significant today. Augustine’s development of the doctrines of sin and salvation still holds enormous sway.
- City of God
- On Christian Doctrine
- On the Trinity
7. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Few Christians have written as prolifically or thought so deeply as Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was the human instrument at the forefront of the American Great Awakening. His all-time most notable work is the sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” This sermon was a miniscule portion of Edwards’ huge literary output. The largest Edwards collection to date, archived and assembled by Yale University Press, extends to 16,000 pages.
- The Religious Affections
- Charity & Its Fruits
- The Life and Diary of David Brainerd
- Freedom of the Will
8. John Foxe (1516-1587)
John Foxe, an English author, lived during a period of massive upheaval in the Christian church. During his ministry, kings and queens were preoccupied with executing dissenting Christians and imposing their religious preferences upon their populations.
Foxe, himself exiled under the threat of Marian persecution, moved to Germany for a few years. It was during this time that he began to respond to Christian persecution in a way that would undermine even the most aggressive authorities — by writing a book. Today, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is notable for upholding the legacy of bold Christians who chose to cling to Christ rather than capitulate to man’s demands.
- Book of Martyrs
- Acts and Monuments
- Essential Christian Classics
- Christo Triumphante
9. John Calvin (1509–1564)
John Calvin was instrumental in carrying forward the reformation sparked by Martin Luther and others. Calvin was the quintessential pastor-theologian, forging a robust theology in the crucible of Christian ministry.
In spite of his careful scholarship and rigorous intellectual approach, Calvin has been maligned (sometimes unfairly) for some aspects of his theology. Nonetheless, we owe much to this man’s careful and prayerful exposition of God’s Word.
- Institutes of the Christian Religion
- Commentaries on most books of the Bible.
- The Bondage and Liberation of the Will
- The Secret Providence of God
10. John Piper (1946-Current)
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a modern Christian author. There are many. Max Lucado, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, David Platt, Timothy Keller, Priscilla Shirer, Kyle Idleman, and others are writing books that have enormous impact.
One modern Christian author is John Piper. Piper was the head pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN for 33 years and the founder of DesiringGod.com. Piper’s most notable work is his 1986 book, Desiring God, but the man has written or been apart of over 100+ books according to their website, which is quite a feat.
Other Notable works:
- Desiring God
- Don’t Waste Your Life
- Recovering Biblical Manhood
- Finally Alive
These authors weren’t perfect. No Christian is. But we can thank God for their service to Him, and what they have left for us in the form of their books.