Category Archives: Education

My Top Ten Books for Christians

It seems that there are a lot of “Top Ten” lists of books that every Christian should read.  So, as I sat down this morning, I thought to myself, “Why not make one of those lists?”  With that in mind, here goes my top list:

#1. The Bible.  This may be the most obvious of them all, yet it is strangely missing on a lot of lists.  Without a doubt or hesitation, I can say that every Christian should read the Bible.  All too often people will read books about the Bible while never having read the Bible itself.  I understand you may have to read a book about a time or country that you are unable to visit, but getting your hands on a Bible in most places is not that difficult.  The Bible is the sacred text of the Christian faith and, as such, should be read by adherents of the faith.

#2. Mere Christianity.  This classic by C.S. Lewis is an excellent, understandable defense of Christianity.  Lewis was a remarkably articulate writer who seemed to make difficult concepts very accessible.

#3. Christianity 101.  This book, by Gilbert Bilezikian, was one of the first I read after deciding to get serious about my faith.  I still recommend it to others as a great introduction to the faith. In particular, I like that Bilezikian exposes the reader to different views within the church on a variety of doctrines.

#4. Know What You Believe.  I read this little gem by Paul Little while working on my undergraduate degree at Moody Bible Institute.  To this day, I still think it is one of the more useful books that I have come across.  Between this book and Bilezikian’s, you should be able to get a grasp on the major doctrines of the church.

#5. Know Why You Believe.  This is another book by Paul Little that I think is worth reading, especially for those who are in the early stages of their Christian walk, or those who simply have not thought about why they believe what they believe.

#6. Disciplines of a Godly Man.  I was recommended this book, written by R. Kent Hughes, years ago, and I am grateful that I took the time to read it.  Now, I should note that between the author and his wife, they have books that relate specifically to men, women, and the family, so they have you covered.  While there are many who will put Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, I find this book to be far superior.  In particular, I found it to be the most practical book I have read relating to spiritual disciplines.

#7. Pilgrim’s Progress.  This classic by John Bunyan is another that I read soon after deciding to take my faith seriously.  I am just as impressed today, as I was then, with how Bunyan managed to intertwine the Scriptures into his book.  The man is masterful in that regard.

#8. Evidences of Christianity.  Another classic on the list, this one was written by William Paley.  You may be more familiar with Paley as he relates to the design argument.  This book, however, is a rich treasure trove of information as the author sets out a case for the Christian faith.  His argumentation is methodical and well supported. And, as a bonus, the book is in the Public Domain so you can read it for free.

#9. Reasonable Faith.  William Lane Craig does a superb job of laying out his case for the Christian faith in this book.  For those who might think the content is a little too advanced, his book, On Guard, is more accessible, while still covering much of the same information.  Of the modern apologetics books, this is a great place to start.

#10. The Space Trilogy.  Before there was Narnia, C.S. Lewis wrote a trilogy of books: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.  The books can be purchased individually, or as a single bound collection.  The Books are real treat to read even while dealing with heavy spiritual ideas.  While I particularly enjoyed the first and third books, they are all worthwhile and I can heartily recommend them to any Christian looking for some quality science-fiction to read.

Now, I should close this post out by saying that you can always check out my books 😉

Happy reading!

The Need for Christians to Read the Bible

Statistics show that few people take the time to actually read the Bible.  A survey conducted by Lifeway of 2,930 Protestant churchgoers indicates that only 19% read the Bible everyday and that 18% rarely or never read the Bible.  Furthermore, only 1 in 5 Americans claims to have read the Bible from cover to cover.  The American Bible Society also reports on the distressing Bible reading trends.

The trouble with these reports should be self-evident.  As Christians, we make the bold claim that the Bible is the very Word of God, but many of us do not regard as such in practice.  The average churchgoer can probably tell you a number of books that they have read, but the Bible, strangely, is not on that list.

So, why is it so important to read the Bible?  Here are a few reasons that I can think of right off the top of my head:

  1. It is the Word of God.  This should be sufficient reason alone for someone to want to read the Bible in its entirety.  Indeed, this is good enough reason to make Bible reading and study a lifelong practice.
  2. It is in the pages of Scripture that we learn about Jesus Christ – the one and only path to the Father.
  3. It prepares us, as Christians, to engage with the world we live in.  Christians should make Bible reading and study a habit so that we know what the Word says.  We should not be part of the number that thinks Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife, or that “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible.  In order for us to engage the world with a developed Biblical worldview, we must read the Bible.
  4. It provides the ethical and moral system by which God expects us to live by.
  5. It allows us to see the Bible as a whole and not as a bunch of random texts that are often read without context.
  6. It has had a profound impact on our culture throughout history that can be seen in numerous places, including literature, art, music, and history.

I am sure that you can probably add your own reasons to this list, but these are what popped into my head first.

While reading the Bible as individuals is important, I also think it is vital that families read the Bible together.  This allows for questions to be asked and answered; deep, thoughtful discussions to take place; doubts and concerns to be expressed in a safe and supportive environment; and it can help families have aligned values.  Reading the Bible in its entirety as a family is also important because it exposes difficult passages that are often overlooked.  Christians should be aware of difficult passages and have some idea, or framework, for how to deal with these.  This framework may vary depending on your theology (Arminian, Calvinist, etc.), but it will help guide you in understanding the Bible as a whole.

This last point, understanding the Bible as a whole, is of critical importance.  I have strange suspicion that a lot of people know bits and pieces of the Bible and build a caricature of the whole thing from those parts.  Similarly, I think many Christian try to engage culture with a very keen knowledge of a very small amount of Scripture, but do not have a good grasp of the whole Word of God.  Having an understanding of the Bible as a whole is of enormous value to mature faith.  After all, the canon of Scripture was given to us for a reason, and that is to learn what God has to say to us.

Happy reading!

Indoctrination

From time to time you will hear the accusation leveled against Christians that we are indoctrinating our children when we teach them the faith. For some, the idea of “indoctrinating” someone is intolerable and must at all costs be avoided. For others, like myself, the response is: what’s the big deal? After all, indoctrination is happening whether we are involved or not. I just happen to prefer the notion of being directly involved in the shaping of my child’s life.

There are some people who will say that they refuse to teach their faith in the house because it is unfair to the children and that the young people should be allowed to make their own decisions. But, we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in a world that is full of ideas and worldviews that are being pumped into the minds of people 24/7. So, they hand over the task of teaching their children a doctrine about the world, shaping their worldview, to the school system, television, radio, print media, and peers. Interestingly enough, in an effort to step away from “indoctrinating” their children, they have simply subcontracted the job out to others. Perhaps this is in an effort to feel better about themselves or there is some sense of parental ineptitude.

Regardless, handing over a parent’s influence in a child’s life to whomever it may concern is terribly irresponsible and a disservice to the child. Parents are put into the life of a child for more than the purpose of birth. Our job is not just to see them safely delivered from the womb and then provide room and board while the state, or society, shapes their mind and brings them into adulthood. That is the mindset of some sort of socialist system. Instead, mom and dad are key in raising up a strong and civil society. It is in the home that values are transmitted (more on that another day), a work ethic is instilled, and a way of seeing and understanding the world is developed.

Indoctrination is unavoidable. Companies seek to indoctrinate employees, the military indoctrinates our nation’s warriors, the media indoctrinates its audience, and the list could go on. So, if indoctrination is unavoidable, the question becomes: why shouldn’t I be involved? If I shirk my responsibility as a parent and say, “go ahead school, teach my child everything they need to know about the world,” I have still been involved in the indoctrination of my child. Passive involvement is still involvement.

There are also those that have been duped into the idea that, if only they remove religious influences from the home, the charge of indoctrination cannot fall on them. But this is nonsense. If you filter information, then you are involved in indoctrination. This is indoctrination by omission instead of commission. So, for the parents that believe they have done their child a favor by omitting religious teaching from the home in an effort to be free from indoctrination, I must tell you that you failed miserably. Indeed, you have been just as involved in indoctrinating your child as those you sought to avoid being like. You have simply indoctrinated your children into irreligion. And, if you are so irresponsible as to shirk all duties in the shaping of your child’s worldview, then you have just allowed someone else to indoctrinate your child and sacrificed the tremendous opportunity you were given by God to have an active role in the shaping of that child.

I say all of this to encourage parents to be involved in the shaping of your child’s worldview. Be actively engaged in their life. Take time to talk and play together. Live out what is important to you in your daily life and your children will take note. Show your love for one another, demonstrate a love for God, and be available to answer questions as best as you can. As the days march on a parent’s direct influence becomes increasingly less and the youngster will soon grow into a man or woman and start a family of his or her own. Please, don’t let those precious days go by without making the effort to positively impact your child’s life.