Being a disciple of Jesus Christ and living the Christian faith in the world can, at times, be quite challenging. I enjoy reading about how other Christians have approached their lives of faith throughout the history of the church. I also appreciate learning from great Christian teachers about Christian doctrine and values.
In parts one, two, and three of this series, I recommended classics in the categories of biography, fiction and poetry, and theology and apologetics. Let me now recommend five books in a distinct literary category for your Christian reading pleasure and to grow and challenge you in your faith. This will complete our four-part series on reading Christian classics.
Part 4: Christian Life and Discipleship Classics
Here are five Christian classics in the category of Christian life and discipleship:
1. On Christian Teaching by St. Augustine
Augustine once again appears on my list, as he is arguably the greatest Christian thinker outside the New Testament authors—certainly in Western Christendom. This work is sometimes translated as On Christian Doctrine, for the book summarizes the central teachings of Christianity. Augustine uniquely provides practical instruction in interpreting, understanding, as well as preaching and teaching the truths of the Bible. This book had a big influence during the Christian Middle Ages as believers sought Scriptural insights in order to forge their way through a challenging new era.
2. Life of St. Anthony by St. Athanasius
Athanasius is one of the great defenders of the incarnation (Jesus Christ as God in human flesh). Athanasius was asked to write a biography about the great spiritual and monastic leader St. Anthony (ca. 251–356). Life of St. Anthony profiles St. Anthony’s experiences of spiritual warfare in which he battled the wiles of the devil during his sojourn in the Libyan desert. Through Athanasius’s famous account of Anthony’s extraordinary life of spiritual discipline, many people were encouraged in the Christian life, and some even considered a monastic vocation.
3. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran theologian and pastor who resisted Hitler and the Nazis and was ultimately executed just before the end of World War II. His book, drawing heavily on the Sermon on the Mount, calls Christians to a faith of deep commitment and sacrifice for Christ. In light of his own dramatic martyrdom, this book had a powerful influence on Christians during the second half of the twentieth century.
4. Desiring God by John Piper
John Piper is a popular teacher, pastor, and author in the Reformed theological tradition. Echoing the Westminster Catechism, Desiring God calls believers to pursue the Christian life in terms of seeking joy and pleasure in God. Appealing to Scripture throughout, Piper discusses such important subjects as conversion, worship, love, Scripture, prayer, money, marriage, missions, and suffering.
5. The Cross of Christ by John Stott
John Stott was a noted clergyman, teacher, and author in the Anglican theological tradition. In his influential work The Cross of Christ, Stott appeals to Christ’s atoning death as the very center of historic Christianity. This work explains and defends the atonement of Christ and shows how Christians can live their entire lives in light of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.
Well, that’s my recommended list of classics on Christian life and discipleship. I hope you’ll pick them up and read them. I also hope this four-part series on Christian classics has been helpful to you.
Reflections: Your Turn
Which of these classics have you read? Which one are you looking forward to reading?
Looking for more book recommendations? See my Take Up and Read series of posts under Reflections.