See below for a few of the books recommended by HPC staff on various topics. Check back for new recommendations, and comment below if you would like recommendations on a particular subject not listed here.
Apologetics (Arguments for Christianity)
Can I Really Trust the Bible? by Barry Cooper
This book covers topics including:
– Does the Bible really claim to be the word of God?
– The Bible’s consistency and possible corruptions
– How did we get the 66 books of the “canon”?
– What does “inerrancy” really mean?
It’s a great resource for questions about the validity of the Bible. (Nic)
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller
This is one of the best modern books for people struggling with Christian claims. It is very good for people open to discussing Christian claims, but who find them very difficult to see as plausible. Keller is great at helping people see Christian faith in a light that properly illuminates modern assumptions and blind spots. Keller is my #1 brain crush. (Nic)
Why God Created the World: A Jonathan Edwards Adaptation by Ben Stevens
A modern-language version of Jonathan Edwards’ excellent dissertation. If you’re interested in the question of why God created humanity, this is a wonderful and thoughtful read. I know many people for whom this dissertation has allowed hem to “make sense” of God for the first time. For the original language version, look for “The Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World” by Jonathan Edwards. (Jason)
Art and Faith
Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture by Makoto Fujimura
Makoto Fujimura is the founder of the International Arts Movement and a former Presidential appointee to the National Council of the Arts. In 2014, he was a recipient of the “Religion and Arts” award from the American Academy of Religion. He recently received his forth honorary doctorate. Apart from these credentials, Fujimura is a gifted artist and a passionate Christ-follower. In this set of theologically rich essays, he elegantly weaves together reflections on art and faith, inviting his readers to consider what it means to be steward not only of the natural world, but of culture. His writing carries particular weight as he examines these topics through the eyes of a New York City artist following the devastation of 9/11. This book reminds me of God’s beauty and challenges me to see the world around me through different eyes. (Hannah)
Christianity and Society
Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
This is the true story of a friendship between a white upper-class man and a homeless black man and the surprising bond that grew between them. It’s tempting to view somebody in need as the “lesser” person in the relationship, but this book shows that that can be a dangerous assumption to make. (Andrea)
Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore
The world needs a church that is focused on the kingdom and that engages social and political issues with the gospel. In his book, Russell Moore gives a vision for what this looks like in our culture today. When we live out Jesus’ mission in the way he intended, we will be strange to those around us. But that is exactly the point. This strangeness is what allows people to recognize the Gospel in our lives and draws them to believe it for themselves.
When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
The best of intentions don’t always shield us from doing more harm than good when we set out to right injustices and combat human suffering. In this thorough work, Corbett and Fikkert walk us through why that is and what we can do about it with the goal not of paralyzing us in our efforts, but equipping and empowering us to think diligently about how to make our efforts maximally fruitful and God-honoring.
God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams by David F. Wells
Well’s book is one of the best assessments of the contemporary therapeutic culture and how it affects the way we think about God. This book is enormously helpful in the task of understanding and communicating the Biblical Gospel in a “Me” generation. (Nic)
Humility: True Greatness by C. J. Mahaney
Mahaney attacks the sin of pride in a simple yet penetrating manner. It engages the tension every human has in choosing to be humble instead of proud. (Jason)
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller
Keller describes what it means to have Gospel-centered humility. He discusses what can happen when we truly forget ourselves in light of the Gospel in order to find rest and freedom in Christ. (Jason)
The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
This book takes us out of the 21st century and explains an historical and biblical view of marriage that is refreshing and realistic. Its main purpose is to redefine what marriage is and to free us from our typical fears, misunderstandings, and pride. It also includes practical advice for singles, dating couples, and engaged couples. (Andrea)
Multi-Ethnicity in the Church
People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States by Michael O. Emerson
It has been said that the most segregated time of the week in the United States is Sunday morning. With the insight of many studies and interviews collected over seven years, Dr. Emerson examines not only how mulitracial Christian congregations come to exist, but how they are sustained despite the challenges they face. He writes with intelligence and heart, bringing overwhelming data to life with an illuminating and personal touch.
Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael O. Emerson
In this precursor to People of the Dream, Dr. Emerson looks at the history of segregation in American evangelical churches, arguing that the problem is deeper than racial prejudice alone. He offers a fascinating, illuminating, and convicting examination of American society and the church’s place in it. Is there really a divide? What does it look like, why is it there, and what are its effects? With a wealth of data at his disposal and graceful delivery, Emerson contends that, “before we can heal, we have to stop injuring” (171).
Studying the Bible
Getting the Message: A Plan for Interpreting and Applying the Bible by Daniel M. Doriani
This is the best and most understandable single-volume intro to biblical interpretation I’ve found. My wife and I both use it consistently and find it very helpful. Accompanying audio can be found online to supplement the book. (Nic)
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee
My second go-to for Bible interpretation. This book differs from Getting the Message in that it focuses more on kinds of biblical literature, and it discusses translation choices and a few other topics Doriani doesn’t. But this is definitely my second choice. Its more complex vocabulary can throw off people not used to theological language or who don’t learn new words and concepts easily. (Nic)
When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada
The combination of Joni’s tenderness and personal experience with suffering and her pastor’s orthodox theology makes this book incredibly helpful without shying away from the reality that God is control and suffering still happens. It’s my personal favorite when I question how God can be good and suffering can still exist. (Andrea)
Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard
This short book is not for the faint of heart – or maybe it is. I sometimes return to it when I feel overwhelmed by the weight of suffering around us. With wit and searing candidness, Dillard wrestles with suffering and the character of God through the lens of her own experience with the tragic, and seemingly senseless, death of a young girl she knew. Dillard’s writing style, rich with metaphor and allegory, appeals to her readers less on the level of propositions than experience and prayer. She does not in any way shy away from her perception of the brutality of God, but that distress makes her experience of grace all the more vivid. (Hannah)
Theology and Christian Doctrine
Orthodoxy: The Annotated Edition by G. K. Chesterton
This is one of the best defenses of Christianity, but it is different from a straightforward evidentialist approach. Some people find it a little difficult to read, but the annotated version helps at least with historical references you might not pick up easily. Chesterton writes intelligently, but he wrote for the newspapers and writes for the common man. (Nic)
Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
Trying to live as a Christian can seem exhausting, We are wearied by our failure to live up to our spiritual “to-do” lists and often we feel isolated and far from God. John Murray, a famous theologian said that, “Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation.” Fitzpatrick has a winsome way of pointing us toward the truth in Scripture about who we are in Christ any why it matters for every area of our lives. I find this book tremendously encouraging. We are meant to take courage, comfort, and hope from the reality of who Christ is and who we are in him. I’ve recommended it to many friends. (Hannah)
Christian Beliefs: 20 Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem (Nic)
What we believe affects what we do, so Christian doctrine is more than a set of rules or arcane propositions. Knowing what we believe and why matters not only for pastors or seminary students, but for every disciple of Jesus who seeks to know him and worship him more. (Nic)
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller
This is Tim Keller’s expression of the content of the Gospel. He shows how the Gospel is really different form moralism or moral rectitude and autonomous methods of self definition and self-discovery. It’s critical material for most contemporary American Christians. (Nic)
Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard by Soren Kierkegaard
This is the most nourishing introduction to Kierkegaard I know of. It consists of pieces from his more spiritual writings and requires no academic background to hear the heart of this spiritual profit. This book always challenges me, even if I only have a few minutes to read and think. (Nic)
The Screwtape Letters: With Screwtape Proposes a Toast by C. S. Lewis
A unique and deeply insightful approach to understanding how people are spiritually deceived and manipulated. Lewis is a master of introspective spiritual psychology and explains common pitfalls in thought and belief in a way easily understood once you get into the book. (Nic)
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C. S. Lewis
Probably Lewis’s greatest novel. It is perhaps the most compelling exploration and response to the hiddenness of God I have ever read. It is a great and deeply useful story. (Nic)
Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal by Richard Lovelace
This is a longer book, but is the crowning achievement of Lovelace’s study of spiritual renewal and dynamics. I find it extremely nourishing, systematic, very clear, and consistently biblical. This book is a complete gem for Christians and especially Christian spiritual leaders. (Nic)
Christianity for Modern Pagans: PASCAL’s Pensees Edited, Outlined, and Explained by Peter Kreef
This book is a better version of Pascal’s pensees than the Penguin version, since Peter Kreeft (professor of philosophy at Boston College and devout evangelical Roman Catholic) has organized the thoughts by topic and commented on them relying heavily on C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky and other great Christian thinker and writers. A superb volume. (Nic)
Desiring God by John Piper
This book puts a clear perspective on what it really looks like to take joy in God. It will challenge your heart and force you to look at the selfishness in your life. For a good condensed version, see The Dangerous Duty of Delight by Piper. (Jason)
Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.
The title may sound intimidating, but this is one of the most readable and poignant explorations of our neglected doctrine of sin. Plantinga meaningfully weaves iconic moments of history, everyday encounters, and a penetrating reading of Scripture to shed light on what we are really doing when we sin and why it matters. Not only is he a fantastic writer, he pierces our hearts with intense grace and compassion. One of the most affecting books I have ever read. (Hannah)
One thought on “Book Recommendations”
Is there a discount available if I buy all these books? 😉 So many of them sound so good!