Suggested Reading List
Together the following books will give readers a good overview of Christian beliefs presented in the context of most contemporary arguments for and against their validity. The tones and styles of the books differ widely and I proposed that if you pick one up and find it slow, feel free to choose another from the list that engages you more. What you learn from that first book can then be supplemented by the others from this list.
SEVEN BASIC BOOKS
- Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion (Crossway, 2019).
- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
(Harper SanFrancisco, 2009).
Most complete single volume to read. Gives both explanations of the beliefs of Christianity along with arguments for their validity. However, while popular in style, Lewis demands that the reader follow long sequences of logical argument. Originally talks given over the BBC in Great Britain during World War II. (227 pages)
- Francis Spufford, Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense (HarperOne, 2013).
Funny, ironic, and very colloquial. A British writer explains why the basic beliefs of Christianity “work” emotionally and culturally to address many of the main problems and to solve many of the main puzzles of contemporary life. Good for those who live in a social context where Christian faith is almost unthinkable. (240 pages)
- John C. Lennox, Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists are Missing the Target (Lion, 2011).
An Oxford professor who answers a series of objections to the Christian faith. The material was crafted in debates and so has the sometimes feisty tone of someone a public disputation. Special attention given to faith and science, though he also deals with question of moral beliefs and the resurrection of Jesus. (248 pages)
Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Dutton, 2008).
First half deals with common objections to Christianity. The middle seeks to make a positive case for the rationality of belief. Finally there’s a basic treatment of the main Christian beliefs. (336 pages)
- Tim Keller, Making Sense of God (Viking, 2016).
- John Stott, Basic Christianity
Begins with the evidence for Christ being the resurrected Son of God and then proceeds with a more thorough treatment of what and how to believe. Assumes belief in God and general trust in the Bible. Not the first book for most inquirers but clear and practical. (192 pages)
SELECT TOPICAL READING LIST
The following list does not include chapters dedicated to these topics in the seven books on the previous “basic” reading list. If you are working through these topics, please see the appropriate essays within those books, because they often offer the best treatments to the subjects. The following is a list of books, chapters and essays that supplement the previous “basic” reading list.
How Christianity Makes Emotional Sense
- G.K. Chesterton, Chapter 5 - “The Flag of the World”, in Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith (Doubleday, 1990). Also see excerpt in G. Koloszyc, The Journey: Our Quest for Faith and Meaning (NavPress, 2001), pp.159-163.
- Issa, “The World is Dew” in G. Koloszyc, The Journey: Our Quest for Faith and Meaning (NavPress, 2001), pp.148-149.
- Dick Keyes, Beyond Identity: Finding Yourself in the Image and Character of God (Destinee, 1998).
- T. Keller, The Prodigal God (Dutton, 2008).
- T. Keller, Counterfeit Gods (Dutton, 2009).
- C.S. Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age”, in Present Concerns (Mariners Books, 2002).
- C.S. Lewis, “De Futilitate” in Christian Reflections, W. Hooper, ed. (Eerdmans, 1967).
- C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory” [Available online]
- Thomas Morris, Making Sense of It All: Pascal and the Meaning of Life (Eerdmans, 1992).
- Rebecca Pippert, Hope Has Its Reasons (Harper, 1990).
- Dorothy Sayers, Creed or Chaos? (Harcourt and Brace, 1949).
How Christianity Makes Cultural Sense
- Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism (Allen Lane, 2014).
- Charles Taylor, A Secular Age Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2007 and Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity Harvard University Press, 1992.
- Kyle Harper, “Christianity and the Roots of Human Dignity in Late Antiquity”, in Shah and Hertzke, Christianity and Freedom , pp.123-148
- Brian Tierney, The Idea of Natural Rights. Studies on Nat Rights, Natural Law and Church Law Atlanta, GA: Emory University Press, 1997
- W.H. Auden, “The Fatal Flaw of Liberalism”, in G. Koloszyc, The Journey: Our Quest for Faith and Meaning (NavPress, 2001), pp.75-78.
- Luc Ferry, Chapter 3 – “The Victory of Christianity over Greek Philosophy” in A Brief History of Thought: A Philosophical Guide to Living (Harper, 2010).
- David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale, 2009).
- Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, in G. Koloszyc, The Journey: Our Quest for Faith and Meaning (NavPress, 2001), pp.125-131.
- C.S. Lewis, “The Poison of Subjectivism”, in Christian Reflections, W. Hooper, ed. (Eerdmans, 1967).
- C. John Sommerville, The Decline of the Secular University (Oxford, 2006).
- Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity, (Harper, 1997).
- Rodney Stark, Chapter 2 – “God’s Handiwork: The Religious Origins of Science”, and Chapter 4 – “God’s Justice: The Sin of Slavery”, in For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery (Princeton, 2004).
- Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (Abingdon, 1996).
Why Christian Belief Is Rational
+ On Faith and Reason
- Christian Smith, Atheist Overreach: What Atheism Can’t Deliver, (Yale, 2018).
- J.P.Moreland, Scientism and Secularism (Crossway, 2018)
- James Davison Hunter and Paul Nedelisky, Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality, (Yale University Press, 2018)
- Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist, NeoDarwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, (Oxford University Press, 2012).
- G.K. Chesterton, Chapter 3 - “The Suicide of Thought” in Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith (Doubleday, 1990).
- Also in Francis S. Collins, Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith (HarperOne 2010), pp. 281-288.
- John Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002).
[Unlike other books in this reading list, Gray takes a sharply anti-Christian position. But like Christians, he makes a strong case that without belief in anything beyond the natural world it is impossible to talk about human rights, freedom, morality, or justice.]
- Aldous Huxley, “Excerpt from Ends and Means” in G. Koloszyc, The Journey: Our Quest for Faith and Meaning (NavPress, 2001), pp. 214-216.
- Michael J. Murray, “Reason for Hope (in the Postmodern World)”, and Caleb Miller “Faith and Reason”, in Reason for the Hope Within, Michael J. Murray ed. (Eerdmans, 1999).
- Blaise Pascal, “The Wager” in G. Koloszyc, The Journey: Our Quest for Faith and Meaning (NavPress, 2001), pp. 186-196.
- Alvin Plantinga, Knowledge and Christian Belief, (Eerdmans, 2015)
- Alvin Plantinga, “Evolution vs. Naturalism”, and Anthony Flew “A Pilgrimage of Reason”, in Francis S. Collins, Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith (HarperOne 2010), pp. 299-312.
- Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, Oxford, 2011.
+ Can we believe in God?
- C. Stephen Evans, Natural Signs and Knowledge of God: A New Look at Theistic Arguments (Oxford, 2010)
- W.L. Craig and J.P. Moreland, eds. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, (Blackwell, 2011)
- William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (Crossway, 2008).
- William C. Davis, Chapter 2 - “Theistic Arguments”, in Reason for the Hope Within, Michael J. Murray, ed. (Eerdmans, 1999).
- David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss (Yale, 2014)
SCIENCE AND GOD
- Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press, 2006).
- Robin Collins, “A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God: The Fine-Tuning Design Argument”, in Reason for the Hope Within, Michael J. Murray, ed. (Eerdmans, 1999).
- W. Christopher Stewart, Chapter 13 – “Religion and Science” and J.A. Cover, Chapter 14 - “Miracles and Christian Theism” in Reason for the Hope Within, Michael J. Murray, ed. (Eerdmans, 1999).
MORAL LAW AND GOD
- David Skeel, True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World, (IVP Books, 2014).
- Arthur Allen Leff, “Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law”, Duke Law Journal (Dec, 1979). [Available online]
- Christian Smith, “Does Naturalism Warrant a Moral Belief in Universal Benevolence and Human Rights?” in The Believing Primate: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Reflections on the Origin of Religion, Jeffery Schloss and Michael Murray, eds. (Oxford, 2009).
- Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Is A Secular Grounding of Human Rights Possible?”, and “A Theistic Grounding of Human Rights”, in Justice: Rights and Wrongs (Princeton, 2008).
EVIL AND GOD
- Daniel Howard-Snyder, Chapter 4 - “God, Evil, and Suffering” in Reason for the Hope Within, Michael J. Murray, ed. (Eerdmans, 1999).
- T. Keller, Chapters 1 through 5 in Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (Dutton, 2013).
CHRISTIANITY AND OTHER RELIGIONS
- Timothy O’Connor, “Religious Pluralism”, and Robin Collins “Eastern Religions”, in Reason for the Hope Within, Michael J. Murray, ed. (Eerdmans, 1999).
+ Can we trust the bible?
- Peter J. Williams, Can We Trust the Gospels? (Crossway, 2018)
- Charles E. Hill, Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy (Oxford, 2010)
- Paul R. Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd, The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.
- Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the New Testament (Broadman and Holman, 2016)
- Tremper Longman, Confronting Old Testament Controversies: Pressing Questions about Evolution, Sexuality, History, Violence (Baker Academic, 2019)
- F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, 6th ed. (Eerdmans, 1981).
- C.S. Lewis, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism” in Christian Reflections, W. Hooper, ed. (Eerdmans, 1967).
- [Available online]
- Mark D. Roberts, Can We Trust the Gospels? Investigating the Reliability of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (Crossway, 2007).
+ Can we have faith in Jesus?
- John Dickson, A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus: An Introduction to the Man from Nazareth for Believers and Skeptics (Zondervan, 2018) and A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible: Inside History’s Bestseller for Believers and Skeptics (Zondervan, 2014)
- Paul Barnett, Finding the Historical Christ (Eerdmans, 2009).
- T. Keller, Encounters With Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions, (Dutton, 2012).
- C.S. Lewis, “What Are We To Make of Jesus Christ” from God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1972).
- Also in G. Koloszyc, The Journey: Our Quest for Faith and Meaning (NavPress, 2001), pp.175-180.
- C.S. Lewis, “Excerpt from Surprised by Joy” in G. Koloszyc, The Journey: Our Quest for Faith and Meaning (NavPress, 2001), pp.200-205.
- Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Inter-Varsity, 2010).