A while back I was asked about the five books that every Christian should own if they were starting a library. We had some fun with it here on Christian Book Notes as we tossed around books that we would recommend. I will be using that information to have some fun come March.
In the meantime, I talked with four other men whom I greatly admire and have been influential in my life and various ministries. I talked with Tim Challies (Tim) of Discerning Reader, Tim Brister (Timmy) of Provocations & Pantings, Owen Strachan, Instructor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College, and Trevin Wax of Kingdom People.
The rules were quite simple. Our challenge was to come up with 5 books, and 5 books only, that every Christian must have in their library. Even more specific, if a new believer wanted to build a library, these 5 books needed to be the foundation from which to begin. The only other rule was that the Bible was assumed already.
I believe Tim said best what I was thinking, “I don’t know how we’ll ever agree on five, and only five, books.” That being said, the Lord provided a common thought process as we hammered out which five books should be on this list.
Timmy offered the first attempt of which we wound up keeping three of them. Not because Timmy is so brilliant, but because the five of us were thinking with one mind. The most surprising book to be knocked off this list was John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Trevin though Augustine’s Confessions would be more suitable for this list than Pilgrim’s Progress. Tim, however, offered a different book that we all agreed upon the author of which was referred to as “the bomb” at one point in our discussion.
We had four of the 5 books in less than an hour through emails that included much bantering and chiding of one another!
The last book was going to be difficult as we needed to decide what genre from which this particular title must come. After looking at the list of four, I offered one that I refer to as a “toolbox book.” It covers a wide range of topics and is a great help to both new or old believers.
We ended up with a list of books that offer an apologetic for the Christian faith, a book that looks at the atonement and two books that offered an exposition on the character of God. The last title to be added offers an understanding of the process of sanctification. Our list of 5 books was now complete.
More About the List
There were some books that were discussed but ultimately left off the list due to inaccessibility to a wider range of readers or we just could not agree on it. One of those books was Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections – a book we all love and enjoy but don’t feel as though everyone would feel the same way we do.
A biography did not make the list because it was just too difficult to pick one biography that would appeal to everyone. Sadly, They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick, a suggestion from one of the guys, did not make the cut, either.
While I am sure that there will be much debate (feel free!) on our list, this is the list we came to in our discussion. These five books represent a great introduction to the Christian faith and walk. What is more, most of the books reference so many other rich and solid books that if one were to start with these 5 books and then work from the bibliographies found therein, they will begin to amass a library rich in theology and sound doctrine that would rival that of many biblical scholars. So, what did make the list? Without further ado…
The 5 Books
An excellent resource introducing the essentials tenants of the Christian faith as well as a defense of the faith.
This book is great at introducing the depth of the great God we worship and serve. Each chapter will expand your mind and knowledge of God.
This monumental work by John Stott looks at the importance of the cross and how it impacts not only the believer’s life, but the history of the entire world. The doctrine of the atonement will become more real to you than ever.
Sproul’s work on the doctrine of God’s holiness is second to none in terms of readability and accessibility. To read the Holiness of God is to come to the realization that your salvation has more to do with God than it does with you.
Don’s book on the Spiritual Disciplines is a wonderful toolbox to help the Christian grow in sanctification for the sake of godliness. While you might not do everything in this book, there is enough biblical advice found within the pages, that the reader will certainly find a biblical means by which he can grow in his faith.
Westminster Books has been so kind as to offer a sale on all of these books and a special bonus if you purchase all five. The sale will last until 31 December 2010.
They are going to offer an additional 10% off the five books listed above. If you purchase all 5 books, they will even offer free shipping and handling! The specifics of the sale are listed below.
Mere Christianity: The additional 10% off is for the paperback, $8.87.
Knowing God: The additional 10 % off is for the hardcover deluxe edition only, $15.80.
The Cross of Christ: an additional 10% off, $15.20.
Holiness of God: an additional 10% off, $8.19.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life : an additional 10% off, $8.85.
If you purchase all five books, you will save more than $40 off the list price plus get the free shipping and handling!
To receive the discount on these books and/or the free shipping and handling, you will need to use the coupon code 5BOOKS (*note – this code is to be entered on the shopping cart screen where it reads “ENTER SPECIAL OFFER COUPON CODE”).
Even if you own most or all of these books, this offer allows you to buy multiple copies for your friends and family or even your pastor in time for Christmas.