“Some Christians do not realize,” wrote Gene Veith, “that they are heirs to a great literary tradition. From the beginnings of the church to the present day, Christian writers have explored their faith in books, and in doing so have nourished their fellow believers. Some of the best writers who have ever lived have been Christians, working explicitly out of the Christian worldview. To their loss, many contemporary Christians are unaware of Christian writers ….”
To begin, then, to overcome this disastrous deficit in our lives and our life together, let me suggest a rather simple reading list for the new year, and ask that you truly commit yourself before God to reading it through. I guarantee you that it will transform your Christian life. So, with some trepidation, I suggest for your reading pleasure and your spiritual maturing:
(JANUARY-FEBRUARY) Augustine’s Confessions — Beyond question, one of the greatest books ever written; searching, startling, and stunningly relevant in every age for every soul in search of God.
(MARCH-APRIL) John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress — Tasty! A real delight to the heart and mind. This is an allegory that tells the story of the Christian journey of faith from this world to the next. Unforgettably personal, theologically biblical, and thoroughly hopeful.
(MAY-JUNE) C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity — In defending his own ministry, and describing the apologetic task the church is called to undertake in the world, Paul wrote, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ …” (2 Corinthians 10:5). It’s just what Lewis excels at doing. This is a great introduction to what the Christian faith is about.
(JULY-AUGUST) J. I. Packer’s Knowing God — One of the great needs of the hour is for Christians to know God, and this modern classic is designed to lead us into intimate, personal, proper relationship with the great God who’s revealed himself in Scripture.
(SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER) C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters — An intriguing and instructive look at the Christian life through the eyes of a senior devil who’s instructing a junior devil on the intricacies and intrigues of temptation. As one reviewer put it: “Particularly valuable are its chapters on the ups and downs of the spiritual life, its ‘peaks and valleys,’ and the necessity to live at a deeper level than our religious feelings.”
(NOVEMBER-DECEMBER) Henri Nouwen’s The Way of the Heart — Devotional lessons gleaned from the ancient desert fathers concerning the place of silence and solitude as part of growing spiritually.
Now, that’s one book every two months; only six books for the whole year — do-able on almost any schedule. I think it might also be profitable at the end of each two-month period to have an evening discussion of the book just read. We’ll see about arranging that as we go. For now, let me encourage you to turn off the TV and discover the rewards of reading and the riches of our Christian literary heritage. Life’s too short to waste.
— Pastor Spencer