Worthwhile Reads

Worthwhile Reads

Worthwhile Reads

I am a proud bibliophile. One of my goals is to read some form of printed media every day of the year. The reason is that good books have the ability to change lives. If you will read good books, they will make you into a better, more informed person. Unfortunately, bad books abound; some books simply aren’t worth the time or the money they require. If you’re a reader, or if you want something worthwhile to read, the three books I’ve listed below are well worth your time—plus, all three can be purchased on Amazon for under $30.

Easiest Read: Brave New Discipleship

The world has changed drastically in the past century; Abraham Lincoln would likely have more in common with Abraham the patriarch than he would with us. The world we live in is a radically different place than the world that the Church has existed in for some 2000 years. In Brave New Discipleship, Max Anders argues that, due to the changes in society, “it may be generally more difficult to live the Christian life in the twenty-first century than at any other time in history.”[1]

The goal of Anders’s book is to help western Christians live a faithful life in our pervasive, secular culture. Anders’s thesis is that if Christians will focus on mastering several biblical practices, they will be able to live a faithful Christian life, even in the 21st century. Not only does Anders explain each biblical practice, he gives concrete steps to achieve them.

If you want a practical book that will give you solid instructions on how to live a godly life in an increasingly ungodly culture, this book will definitely give you some great ideas.

Medium Read: How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth

What a title! Needless to say, this highly informative book has high aspirations; though it fulfills its lofty goals, you may need to read it more than once to get the full effect! The reason is not that this book is hard to understand; this book simply has that much knowledge packed into its 273 pages.

The goal of this book is simple: To teach Christians how to understand their Bibles on a deeper level. Written by a New Testament professor and an Old Testament professor, this book explains how to read the different genres of Scripture. Here’s why this matters: The way that you interpret Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is not the same way that you interpret Jesus’s resurrection in Luke 24. That was an obvious example; however, should Isaiah be interpreted the same as Psalms? What about how to interpret the book of Revelation? The point of How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is to explain how to understand each genre of Scripture correctly.

If you want to understand your Bible better, this is a can’t miss book.

Hardest (But Best) Read: The Confession of St. Augustine

Before the label of “hardest” scares you away, allow me to explain. The reason that this book is the hardest is its genre; The Confessions are a combination of Augustine’s highly personal, spiritual autobiography mixed with a series of prayers and praises offered to God. The content is not exceedingly difficult—this is the least informative book on the list, Augustine is not trying to teach us anything—the genre is just different from what we’re used to reading.

The first paragraph has one of the most famous lines in Christian literature and could serve as a summary for the rest of the book: “You (God) have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”[2] For Augustine, God, unbeknownst to us, pulls us towards redemption in Christ throughout our entire lives.

In The Confessions, Augustine tells his life story, warts and all: Augustine dedicated nearly half of his life to heretical beliefs, carnal relationships with women, and worldly ambitions. Throughout the story, his godly mother constantly reappears as Augustine mentions that she never ceased praying for him. Eventually, Augustine, who was a professor of rhetoric at various schools, began attending Ambrose of Milan’s church because he was interested in the rhetoric Ambrose employed during sermons. After struggling with the hardest objections he could formulate to Christianity, such as how to understand the war passages in the Old Testament, how God is a non-physical substance, and the problem of evil, Augustine eventually came to faith. Augustine went on to write extensively in philosophy and theology and is easily on the smartest and most influential Christians to have ever lived.

The first two books on this list share a common goal: They want to teach you something. Augustine is not trying to teach you anything; instead, he is simply sharing his life story. Nevertheless, there are valuable lessons to be learned if you’ll listen. This book is the hardest to understand; but, it also has the potential to be the most transformative. In short, there’s a reason why people are reading The Confessions sixteen centuries after Augustine’s death.

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Notes & Sources

[1] Max Anders, Brave New Discipleship (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015), 3.

[2] Augustine, Confessions (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1991), 1.1.1.