Required readings for new Christians on the basics of Evangelical Christianity

For better or worse I would always find myself in association with the Evangelical wing of Protestant Christianity, and although I have a lot to disagree with my fellow Evangelicals I find this tradition still as a viable option as it is the most basic expression of faith in Christ as articulated in the Bible.

There are a lot to be said about Evangelicalism and perhaps this would be a great topic in the coming days, but now I would like to write about books –as in Christian books that are not written by Rick Warren, Chuck Swindoll, John Maxwell and Max Lucado.

To start I would like to say that I am and will always be thankful to God that I have been a part of a church that puts such a high value on reading and fundamental doctrines. Here are some books that I would recommend to any church worker who’s teaching basic theology in their local church.

Know What You Believe - Paul Little (IVP)

This is one of the very first books that I bought after returning from years of backsliding as a teenager. The late Paul E. Little is among the very first Christian writers who challenged me to face up to the core questions of this religion called Christianity. Reading this book has lead me into a greater appreciation of a God who has done great things to bring us into a relationship with him through Jesus Christ.

Fundamentals of the Faith - John MacArthur (Moody)

At first I was not sure whether I should recommend this book as I do not personally agree with MacArthur on a lot of things, and I often find him arrogant and hateful towards any Christian who disagree with him. But nonetheless this book which is actually a study guide that was borne out of Grace Community Church, small groups, which blend basic biblical truths with personal obedience and service is a good tool on giving a systematized overview of the basic Evangelical doctrinal tenets.

A Handbook of the Christian Faith - John Schwarz (Bethany House)

I originally bought this book as a Christmas gift to myself (along with John Stott’s Basic Christianity), a couple of years ago, and up to now I still find this very useful whenever I would be assigned to facilitate a Sunday School class for college students at church. The book is a one- volume overview of the Bible, church history, Christian beliefs and practices, other religions, and other issues of Christianity written in an easy-to-understand style, which is a really helpful guide for youth ministers and Bible study leaders who want to make use of Christian tradition and history in their teaching.

Basic Christianity - John Stott (Eerdmans)

First of all, I must say that I always look highly of Rev. Stott as he is among those in the Evangelical Christian world who is genuinely living up to the faith the proclaims. Not to mention how valiant he was when he publicly disagreed with Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ call for evangelicals to unite together as evangelicals and no longer within their 'mixed' denominations in the 1966 National Assembly of Evangelicals, expressing that Lloyd-Jones’ opinion went against history and the Bible. I admire him for his influence on evangelical Anglicans who committed themselves to full participation in the Church of England, rejecting the separationist approach proposed by Lloyd-Jones and other conservative Evangelicals.

The beauty of Basic Christianity lies in the fact that it aims to be a book that present the culture/generation can learn from and hopefully identify with the person of Jesus Christ. What’s interesting also is the fact that it ends with a call to commitment or to respond to God who is the initiator of all.

Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis (HarperOne)

I must admit that I’ve never owned a copy of this book as all the copies that I’ve bought of this classic was given as a gift to my loved ones. What’s admirable about the book is intended to explain the Christian common ground, for the sake of those basically educated as well as the intellectuals of his generation. This serves as a good introduction to the broader world of Christianity as it does not cling to any denominational or traditional bias that is prevalent in most introductory books about Christianity.

Knowing God - J.I. Packer (IVP)

I got my copy of this book as a prize for getting a high score in our monthly exams at Sunday School. In the book Packer argues that a lifelong pursuit of knowing God should embody the Christian's existence. The book has been helpful in understanding
The Blessed Trinity, Christ’s dual nature, the doctrine of election, and God's sovereignty. Packer’s exploration on the topics of he trinity, election, God's wrath, and God's sovereignty are highly helpful as it focuses on the character of God as revealed in the Bible, and correct Christian responses to it –a timely classic for those who are serious in their desire to truly know God.

The Bible Speaks to You - Robert McAfee Brown (WJK)

My often complaint about introductory books on Christianity is that it fails to give compeling reason to live up to what the Scripture says while at the same time often focuses on providing the reader with more head knowledge on doctrine rather than challenge the reader to think on the implications of doctrine in their lives. Brown’s book (although Brown doesn't fall into what one may consider as an Evangelical) counters that by talking about the theological aspects of the Bible. As well as it explains the Bible to uninformed readers while at the same time also adds a lot of depth to the seasoned Biblical reader.

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