What are the top ten books that have influenced your understanding of Christianity?
I was asked this recently by a congregation member and I thought it was a great question! I took some time to create my list, which I will share with you. I’m going to start by sharing the top 5, and then I’ll share my next 5 in a later post.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis was an atheist who became a Christian later in life. He wrote the popular Chronicles of Narnia as a Christian allegory. Lewis does a tremendous job of speaking into the depths of Christian belief in an accessible, easy to understand way.
Mere Christianity is an introduction to the Christian faith. Lewis outlines why belief in God makes rational sense. Central to his argument is the belief that God has given each one of us a moral code. Humans can understand right from wrong. This is not by accident, but by design.
Favorite Quote: “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” (Lewis is referring to the moral code that God has created each of us with.)
Runner Up (also by C.S. Lewis)— The Great Divorce explores our understanding of heaven and hell in the form of a short story.
Confessions by St. Augustine
Augustine was also an atheist before becoming a Christian. He lived in the fifth century and wrote about his journey into faith. His story is deeply personal yet also speaks to our universal experience of God. Augustine tried early in his life to fill the void that he felt. Ultimately, nothing could fill that inner void until he found meaning in life through a relationship with his creator.
Fun fact- this is the world’s first autobiography. Augustine wrote about his life as he reflected on the experiences that led him to God. He wrote the autobiography as a prayer to God.
Favorite Quote: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”
A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser
Jerry was one of my favorite professors at Whitworth University. Jerry experienced profound tragedy when he lost his mom, wife and daughter in a car accident. A Grace Disguised is a book he wrote about this experience. This book is the best exploration of grief within a Christian context that I have ever read.
Favorite Quote: “I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it.”
Letters And Papers From Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Bonhoeffer was a German pastor who is known for his opposition to the Nazis. Bonhoeffer founded an underground seminary in Germany that continued to train pastors despite relentless pressure from the Nazi regime. Eventually Bonhoeffer was arrested and charged with conspiring to kill Hitler. While in prison, he wrote letters that have been compiled into a book. These letters are heartfelt and reflect the deep faith of Bonhoeffer. He was executed by the Nazis days before the war came to an end.
Favorite Quote: “The Church is the Church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.”
Runner Up (also by Bonhoeffer)— The Cost Of Discipleship explores the intricacies of how to be a disciple of Jesus.
Prayer- Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey
I have always been fascinated by prayer, but have also had a lot of questions about it. Yancey is originally a journalist and he approaches the subject of prayer as an investigative journalist. What I love most about this book is how practical it is. It does not get lost in theories about prayer. Instead, it focuses on how to live a prayerful life on a daily basis.
Favorite Quote: “Like all good things, prayer requires some discipline. Yet I believe that life with God should seem more like friendship than duty. Prayer includes moments of ecstasy and also dullness, mindless distraction and acute concentration, flashes of joy and bouts of irritation. In other words, prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter.”
The next five books will be coming soon. In the meantime, what are the books that have been most influential for your faith? Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear from you!
Also, we are nearing the end of our annual Stewardship campaign. We hope to collect all of the Estimates of Giving by Nov. 8. Please take a moment to fill out an Estimate of Giving card. You can do so here: www.unitypres.org/estimated-giving/.
Thank you for the ways you give to Unity. I can’t wait to see what God will do through Unity in 2021.
See you on Sunday!
P.S. If you would like to join us in-person this week for worship, please register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/worship-november-1-2020-at-930am-tickets-126719693013.