Here are a few books that I highly recommend reading. I do not necessarily agree with everything that is said in all of these books–I don’t think anyone ever agrees completely with an author–but these books will challenge your mind.
Let me say that again: These books will challenge your mind! If they do not challenge you to draw closer to God and/or to examine your beliefs then you must already have everything figured out.
For the rest of us mortals…I recommend these books.
I will post individual reviews as time goes on. For now I have just put links to the books on Amazon.com. I have placed some brief notes below each link. Amazon.com has both professional and user reviews, so you can learn a little more about them there.
- The Cost of Discipleship: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- This is the book that God used to first start dealing with me about what it means to be a Christian.
- This book is very, very deep reading, but it’s worth it.
- If you read a lot of non-fiction Christian literature you will find that this book is often quoted by other authors, so it is worth taking the time to read.
- The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical: Shane Claiborne
- A friend of mine once described “The Irresistible Revolution” this way: If Bonhoeffer tells you why to be a disciple, Claiborne tells you how to do it.
- This author quotes Bonhoeffer a lot, and he was obviously influenced by him.
- This book is much easier reading than “The Cost of Discipleship.”
- If you have to pick one book out of this list to read, then choose this one. If you are a very traditional Christian then this will make you rethink everything–and I mean that in a good way! (For what it’s worth, I consider myself a traditional Christian; however, Claiborne’s book looks beyond tradition to the heart of Christianity. He does not knock traditional Christianity, he only challenges people to think about why they do the things that they do.)
- Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith: Rob Bell
- Rob Bell pastors Mars Hill Bible Church–the fastest-growing church in American history.
- If you know about Rob Bell then you know that he challenges people to think through Christianity for themselves.
- This book does exactly that: It challenges you to think. Some of it is highly controversial, but Bell makes some great points (as he always does!).
- Hear Him! The One Hundred Twenty-five Commands Of Jesus: Peter Wittstock
- Peter Wittstock takes the Great Commission (“go and make disciples of all nations…baptizing them…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…”) and asks the question, “What did Jesus command?”
- He attempts to identify the commands of Jesus that were applicable beyond the current circumstances, and then he studies each one.
- Some disagree with this approach, but I think if you read the book you will find that Wittstock is not being legalistic (he points out that it is impossible to condense Jesus’ commands to legalism).
- This book makes for an excellent devotional. Pick a command or two each day, read Wittstock’s word study on the commandment (you’ll find some of the commands didn’t mean what you thought they meant), and then meditate on it.
- Pursuit of God: Aiden W. Tozer
- This book is somewhere in between “The Cost of Discipleship” and “The Irresistible Revolution” for reading. It’s not too hard to read, but it’s not easy reading either.
- This makes for a good devotional as well. You can go through it a chapter a day, or something like that.
- A.W. Tozer wrote the rough draft spontaneously while on a train ride. He wrote the whole book on his knees. Need I say more?
- Note: This book is available to read on-line for free at this link.
- Note: This book is available for free as an e-Sword extra module.
- The Last Christian Generation: Josh McDowell, David H. Bellis
- “The Last Christian Generation” is a little different than the others I have listed so far, because it is aimed more at leaders.
- Josh McDowell does not teach legalism in this book, but he does teach discipleship.
- He shows how “easy believism” has led to an entire generation of Christians (almost two generations) who no longer know what it means to be Christian. Christianity is subjective to them, not objective.
- McDowell demonstrates what he calls a “process-driven” model. His goal is to show leaders how to get their church on a model of discipleship. How to get their people being the church instead of just going to church (as he puts it).
- McDowell also has materials that churches can use for Sunday School, small study groups, etc., that are all aimed at discipleship. If you think those materials might be something that your church can use then you can get more information here.
- Mere Christianity: C.S. Lewis
- I just finished reading this book, and I see why so many people call it a Christian classic.
- It is very deep reading, but well worth it.
- This book is based off a series of radio talks that C.S. Lewis gave. His goal was to describe what Christians believe. His target audience was a non-Christian one. Because of this, C.S. Lewis takes a very unique approach. He takes incredibly deep concepts and breaks them down using many illustrations so that the non-Christian can understand. Of course, this approach works great for us Christians as well! I’ll be thinking about this book for a long time.