How about Reading Some Christian Classics? Part 1

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Only human beings read. And from a biblical perspective, it may be reasonably inferred that humans’ capacity to read is part of the intellectual endowment that comes from being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27). Moreover, God gave humankind a divinely inspired book to read and study in order to discover truth and salvation. Interestingly, scientists in various disciplines today—both religious and otherwise—think that human exceptionalism is evidenced in our unique ability to think, speak, write, and read.

Because historic Christianity is a bookish religion, the faith helped spread literacy throughout the world, especially during the medieval period and during the Protestant Reformation. Christian scholars produced many books through the centuries that have become enduring classics. In this first part of my series on Christian classics, I’d like to recommend five books in a distinct literary category for your Christian reading pleasure and to grow and challenge you in your faith. In succeeding parts of this series, I’ll introduce books in other categories.

Part 1: Memoirs, Devotionals, and Spirituality Classics

Christians today often like to hear the testimony of others who have come to faith in Christ. I’m always inspired and challenged by reading about the lives and hearing the soulful reflections of some of Christianity’s greatest leaders and thinkers of the past. Here are five Christian classics in the broad category of biography:

1. Confessions by St. Augustine

Augustine is arguably the most influential Christian thinker outside the New Testament authors. His book Confessions is credited with creating the literary genre of biography in Western civilization. The book catalogues Augustine’s dramatic conversion to Christianity. The word “confession” is understood in a triple sense: confession of sin, confession of a newfound faith, and confession to the glory of God.

2. Pensées by Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal was a leading scientist, mathematician, inventor, and Christian thinker. Pensées is French for “thoughts” or “reflections.” This work is a collection of Pascal’s notes on various subjects that he hoped to put together into a work of Christian apologetics, but unfortunately, he died prematurely. While consisting of a group of notes and comments on various topics, the quality of writing and reflection makes the work a perennial bestseller.

3. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

This book tells the harrowing story of the ten Boom family, Dutch Christians who were imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp for hiding Jews during the Holocaust. Corrie ten Boom shares her personal and powerful story of suffering, courage, and hope in the midst of World War II.

4. The Life of St. Francis of Assisi by St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure was a great Catholic philosopher and theologian who lived in the High Middle Ages and was a contemporary of Thomas Aquinas. In this work, Bonaventure writes about another great Catholic saint named Francis of Assisi.

5. Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis is arguably the most influential Christian thinker and writer of the twentieth century. A literary scholar, Lewis wrote books of fiction as well as on Christian theology and apologetics. In Surprised by Joy, he tells the story of his famous conversion to Christianity from atheism.

Well, that’s my recommended list of biographical Christian classics. I hope you’ll take some time to read them. Join me next week for part two of this series in which we’ll look at another category of Christian classics.

Reflections: Your Turn

Which of these classics have you read? Which one are you looking forward to reading?

Resources

  One thought on “How about Reading Some Christian Classics? Part 1

  1. June 12, 2018 at 5:18 am

    I have read “Confessions” and “Surprised by Joy.”
    I read “Confessions” a bit at a time. Took some pondering. Times were so different, yet so like today.
    The first time I read “Surprised by Joy” I just didn’t get it. It was the dullest. most bewildering Lewis thing I’d ever encountered. I picked it up again years later, and it spoke to me, deeply. I suppose I wasn’t ready for it yet, the first time through.

    • June 12, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Thanks for your comments. Keep reading the Christian classics.

      Ken Samples

    • jamesbradfordpate
      June 12, 2018 at 11:54 am

      I’m like that with Lewis books. I appreciate them after a second reading.

      • June 12, 2018 at 2:10 pm

        Thanks, James.

        Ken Samples

  2. jamesbradfordpate
    June 12, 2018 at 7:09 am

    I’ve read 1-2, and 5. I saw the movie for 3. I may read some Bonaventure in the future, since I am currently reading a book about the spiritual senses, and he is mentioned quite a bit. I’ve been going through some Chesterton books slowly, and those are enjoyable to read.

    • June 12, 2018 at 9:42 am

      Thanks for your comments, James.

      Keep reading the Christian classics.

      Ken Samples

  3. June 12, 2018 at 10:27 am

    I’ve read The Hiding Place (Some time ago) and Confessions.

    • June 12, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      Nice, Mike.

      I hope you are doing well.

      Ken Samples

      • June 13, 2018 at 11:33 pm

        Doing well thanks Ken. I recently remarried.
        I’ve no idea about the cost implications – but when you over in the UK sometime would you consider a visit to Wales. Aberystwyth in particular.

      • June 14, 2018 at 9:38 am

        Congratulations, Mike.

        I’d love to visit Wales sometime.

        Ken Samples

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