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Three books every Christian should read

We just finished reading through The Story, an abridged version of the Bible that summarizes the main story-line of God from Genesis to Revelation. I remember the excitement it generated when we began. One person was enthralled with reading it. She asked me, "I'm reading The Story but I'm also now reading the Bible to get all the parts I've missed, is that okay?" It's questions like that which warm my heart!

But besides the Bible, I'd like to offer three books every Christian should read. I treasure all three and have returned to them many times over the years.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Lewis originally wrote this book as a series of radio talks he gave in Britain during the Second World War. He set out to explain and defend “the belief that is common to nearly all Christians in all times.” The results have been stunningly fruitful as his work is beloved by all streams of Christianity, Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox. Even non-believers and skeptics admire and appreciate his reasoned approach. Lewis’ wit and wisdom are as fresh and relevant today as they were in 1940. Of the three books this is my favorite. It’s going to be in print for many more decades. Coming in at only 256 pages it’s a must read. If you buy it, buy 2 copies one for yourself and one to loan out to others.

Basic Christianity by John Stott. Deeply influenced by the evangelistic preaching of Billy Graham in London in 1956. Rev. Stott became the leading evangelical voice of the Church of England until his death in 2011. Stott’s book is written with great clarity, deeply rooted in the scriptures. It’s simple outline: Who Christ is, What We Need, What Christ has Done, and How to Respond gives the reader a grounding in the fundamentals of theology. Many people have come to faith by reading this book. At only 184 pages, it's an accessible introduction to Christian faith. When Karen and I are invited to graduation parties this is our go-to gift for the students.

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Warren published it in 2002 and it became a bestseller and remains so today. It’s a different kind of book than the first two. It offers inspiration and insight into the main question of life: what on earth am I here for? Warren writes in a warm and motivational way that naturally draws readers in. Unlike so many platitudinous self-esteem, self-help books, Warren enunciates the specifically Christian and Biblical responses to the human question. It’s a masterpiece with great appeal to both believers and non-believers. Many have found faith by reading this book. I recently gave a copy to a brand-new Christian. After reading it, he said, “I cannot thank you enough for the book. It is perfect for me.”

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