Twelve Books Every Christian Should Read
The importance of Christian education for the perpetuation of the American Republican cannot be overstated! Following the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers sought to perpetuate the life of young America by ensuring that it rested upon a Christian foundation in the ensuing generations. The Ivy League arose well in advance of the Revolution and was one of the first formal attempts to enshrine the principles of Scripture in public life. In the mid-1820s, the American Sunday School Union arose as an additional means of guaranteeing that the Christian principles of the American Republic were secured into the future. Among its leaders were Bushrod Washington (nephew of George Washington), Francis Scot Key, Chief Justice John Marshal, Gov. John Pollock who inscribed our currency with “In God We Trust,” and many other notable figures.
One of the greatest orators America has conceived was the Honorable Daniel Webster. As an earnest Christian, Webster understood the importance of perpetuating the Christian faith through good education and Christian literature. On one occasion, he addressed the matter succinctly:
If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, then error will be. If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendency. If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will. If the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of this land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.
To ensure that succeeding generations enjoy the blessing of liberty, Christian literature must be widely circulated and the principles which are advocated therein must be applied to private and public life. Parents, pastors, denominational, and local leaders must be deliberate in this endeavor. Only a few of the many works worthy of the Christian’s attention are listed below.
The arrangement of these works is only suggestive.
Robert Boyd Munger, My Heart Christ’s Home.
More than ten million readers have enjoyed Robert Boyd Munger’s spiritually challenging meditation on Christian discipleship. Imagining what it would be like to have Jesus come to the home of our hearts, Munger moves room by room considering what Christ desires for us. In the living room we prepare to meet Christ daily. In the dining room we examine together what appetites should and should not control us. We even explore the closets in our lives that Christ can help us clean out. Munger’s practical and profound booklet (now revised and expanded) helps you give Christ control over all of your life.
Charles Sheldon, In His Steps.
In His Steps is a best-selling book written by Charles Monroe Sheldon. First published in 1897, the book has sold more than 30,000,000 copies, and ranks as the 9th best-selling book of all time. It was Friday morning and the Rev. Henry Maxwell was trying to finish his Sunday morning sermon. He had been interrupted several times and was growing nervous as the morning wore away, and the sermon grew very slowly toward a satisfactory finish. “Mary,” he called to his wife, as he went upstairs after the last interruption, “if any one comes after this, I wish you would say I am very busy and cannot come down unless it is something very important.” “Yes, Henry. But I am going over to visit the kindergarten and you will have the house all to yourself.” The minister went up into his study and shut the door…
A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.
Here is a masterly study of the inner life by a heart thirsting after God, eager to grasp at least the outskirts of His ways, the abyss of His love for sinners, and the height of His unapproachable majesty and it was written by a busy pastor in Chicago! Who could imagine David writing the twenty-third Psalm on South Halsted Street, or a medieval mystic finding inspiration in a small study on the second floor of a frame house on that vast, flat checker-board of endless streets Where cross the crowded ways of life Where sound the cries of race and clan, In haunts of wretchedness and need, On shadowed threshold dark with fears, And paths where hide the lures of greed … But even as Dr. Frank Mason North, of New York, says in his immortal poem, so Mr. Tozer says in this book: Above the noise of selfish strife We hear Thy voice, O Son of Man.
Richard Shelley Taylor, The Disciplined Life.
In this modern classic, the author speaks to the urgent need for discipline in today’s culture. Without mincing words, Richard Taylor deals with the areas of living that hamper Christians from reaching their full potential- overreacting, moodiness, erratic emotions, tardiness, lack of submission, weak priorities, and more. He then lays out a clear plan for how to become a disciplined person, starting with developing a personal philosophy of discipleship. Author Richard Foster calls The Disciplined Life “A sharp, staccato plea for disciplined living in an age of self-indulgence.” In an era in which Christian responsibility is minimized by Church leaders, Dr. Taylor reminds Christians they are accountable to use God’s grace rather than abuse that grace.
John Foxe, Book of Martyrs.
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is one of the most celebrated works of the Christian Church. Written at a time when the English Church was in the crucible of reform, this work recounts the testimonies of those willing to seal their convictions with their lives’ blood. The example of previous generations and the extent to which they have been willing to go to maintain their fidelity to Christ has been one important means of establishing succeeding generations of believers in the faith that was once committed to the saints. Christians of every level of maturity will treasure their spiritual heritage far more having learned what it cost previous generations to bequeath Christ to them.
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
This work is one of the most important Christian books of the 20th century. This is a timeless and thought-provoking spiritual work from the author of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters. Lewis offers one of the most concise defenses of the Christian faith ever produced by the Church. A must-read timeless classic.
C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.
On its first appearance, The Screwtape Letters was immediately recognized as a milestone in the history of popular theology and has since sold more than a quarter of a million editions. Now stunningly repackaged and rebranded as part of the Signature Classics range. A masterpiece of satire, this classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to ‘Our Father Below’. At once wildly comic, deadly serious and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the worldly wise old devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. Dedicated to Lewis’s friend and colleague J.R.R. Tolkien, The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation — and triumph over it — ever written.
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress.
This classic work is a call to the high stakes of every Christian’s journey. Do not begin to read it expecting quaint amusement–it is a story woven through with undeniable truth, great cost, and overwhelming joy. One of the most widely read books of all time, this adventure reveals John Bunyan’s intense grasp of the Scriptures. Penned while in prison for refusing to compromise the gospel, The Pilgrim’s Progress is a guide for the journey from death to life. The times have changed, but the landmarks and adversaries are very much the same. Of all the factors influencing our spiritual growth and development, pivotal books play a key role. Learning from those who have walked the path and fought the fight brings wisdom and strengthens resolve. And hearing the familiar chords of kingdom living sung by voices from other times can penetrate cultural barriers that limit our allegiance to the King.
Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living and Dying.
Based on work originally published in 1650 and 1651, this book combines Jeremy Taylor’s two most famous writings: *The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living* and *The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying.* These books are owner’s manuals for the soul, describing for readers how to attain virtue, avoid vice, and live a proper Christian life. The book is divided into sections based on which virtue and which vice the reader needs help with. *On Dying* speaks to those who, before they are old and ill, have given some thought to dying and wish to ensure that they pass properly to Heaven. Devout Christians will find this book inspirational and instructional.
John Wesley, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.
John Wesley (1703-1791) firmly believed that God continued to work in the life of the believer subsequent to justification. In A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, Wesley provides an account of the development of his understanding of the doctrine of Christian Perfection. This short work contains a lucid explanation of the doctrine with special attention not only to the Biblical promises and commands that are the basis of the doctrine but also the practical way that “perfect love” works in the life of the believer. While this work was certainly intended to instruct those who were seeking “perfect love,” it also attempts to answer those who would deny the doctrine. Here one sees that, for Wesley, the main point of Christian Perfection is “perfect love.” “Perfect love” thus defines our relationship to God and others. This book is essential for those in the Wesleyan tradition and a worthwhile read for those from other Christian perspectives that wish to understand what Wesley thinks Christian Perfection is and is not.
James Barr Walker, God’s Plan of Salvation.
One of the most influential books concerning God’s work throughout human history to bring about the redemption of the human race was written by an historic Methodist, James Barr Walker, titled A Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation (renamed to God’s Plan of Salvation
). This work was read and circulated widely throughout the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century by a variety of denominations. Rev. Walker details how a holy God revealed his holy plan of salvation to prepare a holy people. This work has not been in print for many years and a revision of this work is one of the goals of Christian Heritage Fellowship. If you would like to participate in its publication, please consider a donation to our publication fund. To do so, please contribute through the donation button in your cart at internet sales. Thank you for your support of the ministry of Christian Heritage Fellowship!
Paul L. Maier, trans., Church History.
For those few brave souls today interested enough in theology and textual criticism to appreciate what a new and modern translation of “Church History” would add to their ability to understand the history of the Church, this is the only book out there. Dr. Maier follows up his classic translation of Josephus with a modern translation of Eusebius. His most important contribution to Eusebian studies is his decision to cut out the repetitiveness in the original work and translate Eusebius’ train of thought instead of merely translating all of the asides and rhetorical flowerings of the nearly impossible-to-read and vast Church history. Each chapter of Eusebius is summarized and critiqued by Dr. Maier in an attempt to help the reader recognize both the value and the critical difficulties in the original work. The content of Eusebius is gripping at times, especially his vivid descriptions of the martyrdom of the early Church and his eyewitness biographical details of Origen and other early church fathers who he knew and studied under. Without Eusebius we would know almost nothing of the march of Christianity across the Roman empire and even less about the crucial critical history of the New Testament in the first 3 centuries.
For Further Consideration
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Stephen Flick heads Christian Heritage Fellowship, a national organization dedicated to reclaiming America’s Christian Heritage and celebrating the life-changing influence of the Gospel around the world. Concerned with the cultural decay of America, Dr. Flick has sought to provide answers to fellow Christians (and unbelievers) concerning the questions and objections to Christianity often posed by secularists and the irreligious. Dr. Flick is a writer and speaker and has authored numerous articles and books on America’s Christian heritage. He earned his Ph.D. from Drew University in history and Christian theology and has taught at the graduate level as full professor. He has been a licensed minster for nearly forty years and resides in East Tennessee with his wife, Beth. They have two grown, married children and five grandchildren.