Read Wisely: Feed Your Faith with Classics*

Amazon lists over 700,000 titles under Christian Books. Christianbook.com lists almost 124,000 titles under Books. How do we choose which ones to read? Sometimes the best path is an old path, well-trodden by previous travelers. Here are five well-thumbed books every Christian should read, more than once.

  1. Pilgrim’s Progress. No writer has contributed more to the images we associate with the burdens and blessings of our faith walk than John Bunyan. If you envision a person’s load of sin tumbling down Golgotha’s hill at salvation, thank Bunyan. He also gave us Vanity Fair, Doubting Castle, and Giant Despair. Free copies of Pilgrim’s Progress (including Part II, his wife Christiana’s journey) are available at the Kindle Store and www.ccel.org. For a family-friendly, read-aloud illustrated abridge version, purchase Dangerous Journey by Oliver Hunkin. Want more allegories? Immerse yourself in Calvin Miller’s The Singer Trilogy or Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds’ Feet on High Places.
  1. Mere Christianity. Read Lewis, not just authors and bloggers who quote him. Other writers defend the reasonableness of our faith, but no one else has given us as many memorable analogies that spotlight the keenness and indestructibility of God’s truth. C. S. Lewis reminds us not only that Christianity is compatible with our intellect, but also that it is the foundation of rational thought. Want more Lewis? Tackle Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorceor The Problem of Pain.
  1. My Utmost for His Highest. Most of the 3,000 devotional titles available at christianbook.com will give you a warm, fuzzy God to cuddle on a cold night. But if you want to experience the God who calls His children to be “broken bread and poured-out wine” for His glory, spend time with Chambers (February 9 reading). Bring bandages. The Holy Spirit will surely prick you with His double-edged sword. Want more Chambers? Consider Not Knowing Where or Shade of His Hand. Want additional meat-on-the-bones devotionals? Edges of His Ways by Amy Carmichael or Daily Thoughts on Holiness by Andrew Murray can provide the meat you seek.
  1. Knowing God. Do you struggle to balance God’s justice with His mercy or His sovereignty with our free will? We all have images of God that have been distorted by life experiences and less-than-ideal authority figures. J. I. Packer’s classic work paints a vivid, unforgettable, biblical portrait of God. Want more on God’s attributes? Try The Attributes of God by A. W. Pink or A. W. Tozer’s book, also titled The Attributes of God.
  1. The Holy Bible. God gave us one source of spiritual protein—His Word. Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God is “quick”— having the ability to generate life on its own (KJV). No other book can do that. Paul said that all scripture is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16). He meant all. Read God’s Word completely. Read it daily. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the difficult parts (John 16:13). Whether it takes one year or five, a systematic approach to reading through the Bible is vital for our spiritual health.

The ability to read is a unique, God-given gift. No other creature can do it. Let’s use it wisely.

Denise K. Loock

*first published in The Journey Christian Newspaper. January 2014. www.journeychristiannews.com