Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Indispensables (Books, That Is)

Among the most common requests we get here are my list of Indispensible Books, a Top Ten I compiled way back in the early days of "Vital Signs" radio. Old school gent that I am, I have made but one change in that list over the years. I suggest these as required reading for any evangelical worth his salt. (Pun intended.) So have at 'em.

1. Bible study tools. The first step to a mature faith and confident service in the Kingdom’s cause is a thorough, but ever-growing, knowledge of the Book. A detailed concordance, Greek & Hebrew helps, word studies, Bible dictionaries and atlases -- these are a few of the basics. Invest in these excellent tools and grow in the Word.

2. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. No question - an absolute must! And don’t miss his other classics including Abolition of Man, Miracles, The Screwtape Letters and The Problem of Pain.

3. The works of Francis Schaeffer. This is a man whose wise analysis of culture has made him one of the most significant figures of our time. I suggest The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century as an excellent book for “first-readers” of Schaeffer.

4. Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton. This timeless book makes a splendid introduction into the work of the one of the most far-sighted men of our century.

5. Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Heaven: Your Real Home by Joni Eareckson Tada. The sure hope of heaven is crucial for Christians who want to make a difference for eternity. Both of these are really great books. (By the way, extra blessings and enlightenment are yours in reading Joni's When God Weeps and Randy’s Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments, perhaps the best all-around pro-life book ever, and Randy's latest non-fiction work, If God Is Good.)

6. Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. An engaging primer on apologetics that is as good for veteran defenders of the Faith as it is for beginners.

7. Their Blood Cries Out by Paul Marshall. Easily one of the clearest, most engaging books around for describing the state of the persecuted Church in our time. Marshall does more than wring his hands, though; he shows us how we can make a real difference.

8. Truth Twisters by Harold Berry. This is a thorough, compelling, and very readable text on the major cults in Western culture and how to effectively witness one’s Christian faith among competing truth claims.

9. How Now Shall We Live? by Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey. The authors deal with important concepts of how our ideas about the world shape the way we live. With thorough, perceptive and hard-hitting exhortations, Colson and Pearcey give a much-needed prescription for what ails the West. (Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth is another book I strongly recommend.)

10. The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy Sayers. Best known for her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Sayers was also a playwright, essayist, and a translator of Dante. This provocative book is one which probes language, art, free will, the theology behind the creeds, and the creative process in man and God.