Ask Pastor Dave: What Are the Top Five Books Every Christian Should Read?

q-aMy bibliophile heart loves this question, yet the truth is there is no way I can possibly answer it. Since Christians are all so different, and at different places in life with different needs, there are no single five volumes that all Christians should read (with the obvious exception of the Scriptures themselves). So, I can’t answer the original question as it was submitted, but I can recommend some general categories of study, with a few of my favorite selections, that are worthwhile.

The storyline of the Bible –> Understanding the whole storyline of the Bible, the redemptive-narrative of Scriptures, is extremely important. Christians need to know how God’s book is weaved together, how it’s contents relate. We do not possess a mere collection of random stories. The whole Bible points to God’s plan of redemption in Jesus Christ. Any books that can help us see this picture more clearly are worthwhile. A few of my favorites are as follows:

God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts

According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy

 

Theological Foundations –> Christians should study the basic foundations of their faith. Readings in general theology will help increase our knowledge of what we believe as followers of Christ, but it will also serve as devotional material. The great theologian Anselm of Canterbury wrote movingly about how faith and understanding are related and fuel one another. As we grow in our knowledge of the basic doctrines of Christianity our love for God will increase. Furthermore, since perversions of the faith abound it is essential know the difference between the real thing and some deviant form of Christianity. Reading is theological foundations will help us shore up this knowledge. A few of my recommendations might be as follows:

Bible Doctrines: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem

Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology by John Frame

 

General Apologetics –> Peter teaches us in his epistle that we should be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us about our faith (1 Peter 3:15). In general, then, we should be some knowledge of apologetics, of or defending the faith. Apologetics is not about winning arguments but about trying to present the cogency of what you believe. This too can be a good source of devotional material, it can strengthen and renew your faith in the face of doubt and discouragement. I recommend these books:

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller

 

Christian Living –> No other single area of the faith is probably so misunderstood as the Christian life. We fail often in our own spiritual growth because we don’t understand how the Christian life works, or what it should look like, or what it means to consistently follow Jesus. Reading on the basics of discipleship and following Jesus, and living in a broken world can go a long way towards encouraging our faith and spurring us on in hard times. So I recommend the following books:

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper

Christ Formed In You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change by Brian Hedges

 

Hot Topics –> Finally, I might say it is worthwhile to have some general knowledge about a couple of hot cultural topics. As believers we should stay engaged in our world, prepared to think theologically about the cultural issues around us and the issues that specifically press up against a Christian ethic. This list would need to change constantly, so I won’t list any books. But I will recommend that you check out, regularly, the website Christ and Pop Culture, which hosts a variety of authors from a variety of theological perspectives (all conservative-ish) and which does a phenomenal job of helping readers think theologically about the world around us.

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