An Anglican “Top Ten,” As It Were – A Reading List by Gerald R. McDermott

By |2018-09-25T10:03:19+00:00January 12th, 2017|Categories: Anglican Life|Tags: , |10 Comments

NB: This is not a list of the ten best Anglican books. It is a list of (actually) sixteen works by twelve authors who have influenced me the most, and the ones therefore that I recommend with enthusiasm to Anglicans and those who are Anglican-curious.

Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (All titles are affiliate links to Amazon)

(3 vols., ed. John Keble, arranged by Michael Russell) 

This is the most affordable version I have found, and comes with a “blueprint” that recapitulates the main arguments. Hooker was the theologian of the Elizabethan settlement. He is not the last word in Anglican theology, especially if you agree with orthodox development, but he should be read in his own words for his learned and “judicious” charting of the via media between Romans and Puritans. Every Anglican priest needs this for reference, at the very least.

Ashley Null, Thomas Cranmer’s Doctrine of Repentance: Renewing the Power to Love

(Oxford University Press)

Cranmer is the theologian, martyr, and master liturgist whose two Books of Common Prayer have set the standard for Anglicans to this day. Null knows more about Cranmer than anyone on the planet.  This is essential for knowledge of the paramount English Reformer.

Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy

(Dacre; Oxford University Press. Many used copies available) 

This is the must-get analysis of Anglican (and historic Christian) liturgy and theology. Written like a detective mystery, with fascinating asides. The author was an Anglican monk, called the brightest Anglican mind, witty and godly, in much demand as conference speaker and preacher all over (last) mid-century England.  Criticized by historians for getting one element wrong in his 4-fold shape, and by theologians for an incipient Pelagianism in his treatment of the offertory, Dix’s argument has more than enough resources to handle each criticism.

E.L. Mascall, Christ, the Christian and the Church: A Study of the Incarnation and Its Consequences

(Longmans, Oxford University Press. NEW EDITION: Hendrickson, 2017)

Mascall was perhaps the greatest Anglican divine of the 20th century. Once called “the most interesting theologian in the world.” Rich fare in its sacramental theology, Christology, and ecclesiology.

E.L. Mascall, Corpus Christi: Essays on the Church and the Eucharist


These are remarkably accessible essays for laymen. Deep and penetrating on an Anglican approach that is Anglo-Catholic but not Roman.

Vernon Staley, The Catholic Religion: A manual of instruction for members of the Anglican Communion


Remarkably elegant and accessible Anglo-Catholic guide for laymen.

John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine

(University of Notre Dame Press)

This is not explicitly Anglican, but is essential to Anglican understandings of development of orthodox theology and worship.

John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons


This a wonderful collection of 1700 pages of Newman’s Anglican sermons before he swam the Tiber. I never fail to learn when I read any one of these.

Lancelot Andrewes, Selected Writings

(Fyfield Books)

The greatest of the Caroline divines, of beautiful style and rich and deep piety.

C.S. Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century

(Oxford University Press)

Classic work, with superb sections on Cranmer, Donne, Hooker, Jewell, More, Puritans, Shakespeare, and Tyndale

J.R.H. Moorman, A History of the Church in England

(Morehouse Publishing)

Well-written, indispensable, shows that Anglicanism goes back to the first few, perhaps even first, century(ies). Distinctly Protestant and Broad Church, anti-Puritan, anti-Roman, weak on things after 1900, far too enamored by Bultmann.  But the best history I know.

Martin Thornton, English Spirituality: An Outline of Ascetical Theology according to the English

(Wipf & Stock)

Superb both for theory and practice; sketches the peculiarly English character of spirituality, starting in 14th century.

Martin Thornton, Pastoral Theology: A Reorientation

(Wipf & Stock) 

Contrasts the theology of the multitudes and theology of the remnant, with practical application to a wide range of phenomena in the parish.

Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional religion in England 1400-1580

(Yale University Press)

Superlative survey of late medieval and early reformation English religion, with the surprising thesis that people were generally happy with their churches and worship before the changes under the Tudors and later.

Roy Strong, A Little History of the English Country Church

(Jonathan Cape)

Delightful history of worship and theology seen thru the prism of churches in the countryside.

William Abraham, Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology: From the Fathers to Feminism

(Oxford University Press)

Billy Abraham is a Methodist, but he understands Anglican sensibilities. Yet far more important, this contemporary classic argues that Christian faith is a many-splendored thing, and that our final criterion is not the biblical canon in isolation but Scripture as enacted and interpreted in liturgy and creeds and sacraments and saints and icons—and the Great Theological Tradition.  This is a book that all young Anglican theologians should read.

~Gerald R. McDermott

All Saints, 2016

Gerald R. McDermott is Anglican Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School and associate pastor of Christ the King Anglican Church in Birmingham, AL. He blogs at The Northampton Seminar, and you can follow him on Twitter at @DrGRMcDermott.

Read Other Rookie Anglican Posts by Gerald R. McDermott:


  1. Joshua Steele January 12, 2017 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    We’re always interested in adding to our Anglican reading list! Please add any additional reading suggestions in the comments!

  2. Christopher G Findley January 12, 2017 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Refreshing list to see. I’d add, for Priests, “The Parson’s Handbook” by Percy Dearmer

  3. Jason Leslie Rogers January 20, 2017 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    I know it may seem an obvious choice, given it’s current popularity, but I would highly suggest Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. It is beautifully and simply written and is both accessible to the laity and relevant to the clergy. More than anything, though, it’s helped me to love Jesus more. Grace and peace to you!

  4. Carter Stepper January 24, 2017 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    If I could add to the list (which is exceptional and includes several I haven’t read in full yet), I found Archbishop Michael Ramsay’s “The Gospel and the Catholic Church” absolutely stunning in its articulation of catholic and Anglican ecclesiology. Thanks for the list, some of these I will be adding soon!

    • Joshua Steele January 26, 2017 at 8:41 am - Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Carter!

    • thomasmckenzie June 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm - Reply

      Carter is right. Ramsay’s book is more important than most of the books on this list.

  5. thomasmckenzie June 27, 2017 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    He seems to have left off The Anglican Way by Thomas McKenzie. 🙂

  6. Eliot Handziak September 5, 2017 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    Anything by Charles Gore, particularly the following:

    Belief in Christ

    The Body of Christ: Enquiry into the doctrine and institution of Holy Communion

    Reconstruction of belief

    Incarnation of the Son of God

    Christ and Society

    And anything else….Don’t forget book on Pope Leo



  7. Eliot Handziak September 5, 2017 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    No one has added anything by Charles Gore

    Belief in Christ

    The Body of Christ: An Enquiry into the Institution and Doctrine of Holy Communion

    Reconstruction of Belief

    Incarnation of the Son of God

    Christ and Society

    And if you still want more his book on Pope Leo



  8. peter October 18, 2018 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    F.W.Farrar is my all-time not anglican but his life of christ was a good one.Love from kenya.

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