Article by Matthew Crocker
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to read. There is something about a good book that just brings joy to my heart. The sight, the smell of the pages, the feel of the binding in your hand, all of it contributes to what makes a book great. Considering this love of books, I thought it would be good to share some of the ones I have read and think would be of particular value to the new Christian. The following is a list of books that I would recommend to anyone who is new to the faith—or young in their Christian life—and would like to go a bit deeper.
1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Ask ten Christians who their favourite author is and I bet at least six would say C.S. Lewis. Simply put, he is a staple of the evangelical diet and for good reason. Lewis was an Oxford don writing in the early to mid-twentieth century. His books are simple, but in no way light. Lewis’s greatest gift is to speak on the loftiest topics and make them accessible to the average Joe (or Joelle). The reason I put Mere Christianity first on this list is for two reasons. First, this was one of the books that I read early on in my Christian journey which formed the way I think. Secondly, the main purpose of this book is to provide a rationally coherent case for the Christian faith by elaborating on its main ideas. Lewis uses his own journey from Atheism to Christianity as his way of demonstrating the reasonableness of Christianity. This would be a terrific book for the new believer and would be edifying to the mature believer as well.
2. The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
Tim Keller is a pastor working out of New York City. This book’s genesis is from the hundreds of conversations Keller had with congregants in New York City. It is largely an apologetic book which just means it provides a defence of the Christian faith. Apologetics can be extremely rewarding for the new believer as this tends to be the time when they are working out some of their objections to Christianity that they may have had before coming to Christ. Likewise, this book will serve those who are entering university. The academy is often the place where people first experience intellectually sophisticated pushback to the Christian religion. It only takes one irresponsible philosophy professor to cast doubt on someone’s deeply held religious beliefs. Apologetics can be a useful tool in avoiding this annoying tremor in faith. Keller’s book is helpful as its first seven chapters deal with the main objection to Christianity and its last seven chapters deal with the reasonableness of Christianity. I would recommend this book to university students and anyone interested in finding answers for objections to the faith.
3. Knowing God by J.I. Packer
First of all, J.I. Packer lived and worked in Vancouver BC. So, if you call Vancouver home (like myself) then you should support a local author. However, even if you do not, you may have heard of J.I. Packer. Knowing God is one of those rare Christian books that has sold millions of copies. The reason for this is obvious, it is really good. The book is more theological in its content than the previous two. So, if you are looking for something that is less about defending the faith and is more about what the Christian faith involves—its beliefs and ethics—then this is a wonderful place to look. I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking to learn about God and know him in a deeper way. Here you will learn about his attributes, his character, and all sorts of good stuff.
4. The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul
This is a book I read recently, but upon reading it I am certain that it would be helpful for the new Christian. Sproul’s goal (that rhymes, unintentionally of course) is to give us a big vision of who God is by looking specifically at his holiness. It is as we see God as completely distinct, completely holy, that we also begin to see ourselves as utterly sinful. Thus, we are driven to the cross as we recognize the goodness of this holy God who did not destroy us in our sin, but redeemed us through his own Son, Jesus Christ. In this book, Sproul attacks any presupposition that suggests we somehow deserve God’s love and mercy. Rather, as he makes clear, we deserve nothing but his justice which means utter destruction. This is precisely what makes God’s grace so amazing. The new Christian should read The Holiness of God because by understanding this attribute of God we see how wonderful his grace really is.
5. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
Chesterton is one of those great British minds who writes with such punch and wit that it is almost impossible not to like him. Like Mere Christianity, Chesterton is writing about his own journey to faith and providing arguments to show the reasonableness of the Christian faith. What makes Orthodoxy unique is its use of the imagination and its desire to show that only Christianity makes sense of the mysterious in the world. Since Chesterton was a writer of novels, plays, non-fiction works, and others he brings a certain literary art to the genre of non-fiction Christian books. His prose is beautiful—almost poetic—and his ability to make Christianity compelling through the art of wordsmithing is uncanny. Orthodoxy would be a terrific book for the new Christian who is educated or enjoys literary art. However, in my humble opinion, everyone should give it a read.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily held by everyone at Christ City Church.