In my book Unfashionable, I wrote that the Bible makes clear that Christians must be people of double listening—listening both to the questions of the world and to the answers of the Word. We're to be good interpreters not only of Scripture but also of culture. God wants us to be like the men of Issachar, "who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" (1 Chronicles 12:32). Faithfulness to Christ means we can't afford to leave our culture unexamined. We're to think long and hard, deep and wide about our times and all the issues surrounding the church's mission—its proper relationship to this world and its proper place in it.

I don't claim to understand all of the complexities involved and the challenges that face Christians in different parts of the world, but I would like to offer some direction regarding what I consider must-read books that can help us think through these issues biblically. No one will agree with all of the content in these books. In fact, some of these books represent opposing perspectives on how Christians should relate to the culture around them. But all of these books will help you develop your own conclusions.

As I once heard Tim Keller say, "Read one thinker and you become a clone. Read two and you become confused. Read a hundred and you start to become wise." While I don't list a hundred books here, these are my Top 40, and I'm convinced they'll help you on that road to wisdom. All these books are well written but none of them is easy reading. They all require an engaged mind. I know this sounds crazy, but I suggest that over time you try to read them all.

I also urge you to be a diligent and intentional reader. Highlight and underline key phrases and sentences, and make notes in the margins. As C. S. Lewis said, "The best way to read is with book in lap, pen in hand, and pipe in teeth." So enjoy these books—but easy on the tobacco.

Here are my top fifteen recommendations (in alphabetical order):

American Evangelicalism by James Davison Hunter
Chameleon Christianity by Dick Keyes
Christ and Culture Revisited by D. A. Carson
Christian Mission in the Modern World by John Stott
Culture Making by Andy Crouch
Engaging God's World by Cornelius Plantinga
God in the Wasteland by David Wells
The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbigin
The Gravedigger File by Os Guinness
How Now Shall We Live? by Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey
Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper
No Place for Truth by David Wells
Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon
The Way of the Modern World by Craig Gay
Where in the World Is the Church? by Michael Horton

And here are twenty-five more I highly recommend:

The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis
All God's Children in Blue Suede Shoes by Ken Myers
Christ and Culture by H. Richard Niebuhr
The Church Before the Watching World by Francis Schaeffer
The Contemporary Christian by John Stott
Creation Regained by Albert Wolters
The Culturally Savvy Christian by Dick Staub
Culture Matters by T. M. Moore
He Shines in All That's Fair by Richard Mouw
Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Michael Wittmer
Heaven Is Not My Home by Paul Marshall
Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World by John G. Stackhouse Jr.
No God but God by John Seel and Os Guinness
The Noise of Solemn Assemblies by Peter Berger
Not the Way It's Supposed to Be by Cornelius Plantinga
A Peculiar People by Rodney Clapp
Prophetic Untimeliness by Os Guinness
Redeeming Pop-Culture by T. M. Moore
Rumor of Angels by Peter Berger
Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright
The Transforming Vision by Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton
Too Christian, Too Pagan by Dick Staub
Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey
When the Kings Come Marching In by Richard Mouw
Where Resident Aliens Live by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon