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3BoT Vol. 2: Three Books Every Christian Should Read

Thursday, November 3, 2011

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3BoT Vol. 2: Three Books Every Christian Should Read | Faith Permeating Life

The first Thursday of every month, I share three related book recommendations with you. You are invited to link up at the end of the post with three recommendations of your own! Click here for more information about Three Books on Thursday.

This month I'm sharing three books I would recommend to anyone who identifies as Christian.

#1: Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller
I love this book because the author talks about Christianity as it's lived in the "real world"; i.e., if you don’t spend 100% of your time with other Christians. It's essentially a book of stories, of small moments weaved together as he tries to make sense of God and life. He tries to understand what dating is supposed to look like as a Christian. He tells the story of a friend who rarely goes to church but is absolutely adamant about giving 10% of his money back to God. There's a chapter called "Church: How I Go Without Getting Angry." It's all raw and beautifully written, and while you may not agree with everything he says, I bet at least some of it will resonate deeply with you.

#2: The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
I wrote about this book at length in another post, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much. Essentially the author spent a year trying to follow every single thing in the Bible. And found it's impossible. Even the various groups who claim to follow the Bible literally do things completely differently and put emphasis on some verses over others. This book raises questions I think every Christian should wrestle with, such as, Am I trying to follow everything in the Bible? Do I believe that's even possible? If not, what should I focus on? Do I want to decide that for myself or let someone else tell me what to focus on? Can I really judge another Christian for making that decision differently?

#3: Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical by Fr. John R. Waiss and James G. McCarthy
You know how there are some conversations that people have been having for hundreds of years and will continue to have well into the future? This is one of them. These two men are friends and very respectful of each other's beliefs, but also both extremely well-versed in their own religious tradition's beliefs and reasons for those beliefs, and they hash them out for everyone to read. What struck me when I was reading this book is how the seemingly vast differences between these two traditions can be reduced to just a few very small disagreements, yet about beliefs so fundamental that they spawn every other teaching in these faiths. If you want to understand how two denominations that both call themselves Christian can look so different, but don't want to wade through insults and judgment to get there, this is the book for you.

What other books do you wish every Christian would read? Share them in comments!

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  1. I remember your previous post on the 'year of living biblically' and meant to check it out and then promptly forgot. I'm glad you mentioned it again so now I will definitely go get it! :)

    I don't have 3 books to recommend, but I do like: 'A matter of days' by Hugh Ross. As someone who studies science I've found it quite hard to work out what I think of Genesis and whether it should be taken literally. This book helped me think this through. Here's a link if interested: http://www.amazon.com/Matter-Days-Resolving-Creation-Controversy/dp/1576833755

  2. @Lozzz123
    Thanks for the recommendation! My husband has a friend who gave him a couple of books on why the "young earth" theories are supposedly right, and I think I would have trouble reading those without getting frustrated. But this looks like a good book for explaining those beliefs in a well-reasoned, non-judgmental way -- my kind of book :)

  3. Thanks for the recommendations! I haven't read any of these.

    I wish every Christian would read all 4 Gospels all the way through. Reading only the excerpts used in church or devotionals gives a skewed perspective on what is really in there. I read all the Gospels as my Lenten discipline in 2001 and was amazed by what I learned!

    My two favorite books about Christianity are Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and The God We Never Knew by Marcus Borg.

  4. Sundays in America by Suzanne Strempek Shea. She spent a year going to churches of many different denominations all over the country. It's a really interesting book.

  5. Hello! I saw you recently started following my blog, so I wanted to say hello and thank you! I love the header of your blog and how you identify yourself. It's always encouraging to me when I see other Christians out there that break molds and stereotypes.

    I've read Blue Like Jazz. It's a great book! Have you read Searching for God Knows What?

  6. @'Becca
    Very good point about the Gospels! It's been a few years since I read one, and even longer since I read all four. I really miss the Bible study I attended in high school! Mike and I were reading and discussing the Bible for a while in college, but we got out of the habit at some point. I plan to get back to my Bible reading in the new year, once my happiness project has wrapped up.

    I have read Mere Christianity, but not The God We Never Knew. Thanks for the recommendation!

  7. @Katie
    Ooh, I would love to read that. I got a taste of attending different churches when I was traveling with Group Workcamps for a summer because we went to whichever church was closest to the school where we were staying, which is what solidified for me that the Catholic Mass is my home. But I'm sure there are many, many more faith traditions I haven't experienced.

  8. @The Soul Anchor
    I haven't read Searching for God Knows What. Have you? I heard some mixed reviews, including, I think, that he was more extreme and had more of an agenda in that book. But I could be misremembering. I would imagine it's probably as thought-provoking as his first book, even if I don't agree with everything.

  9. @'Becca Good suggestion!
    My Bible prof is having us read Matthew, Mark, and John all the way through. I'm not sure why we're not reading Luke, but we're getting 3 of 4 done. I might go back and read Luke on my own.

  10. I just finished re-reading Same Kind of Different as Me. It's a true story, and I always find something new to consider while reading it.
    I enjoyed Jesus With Dirty Feet, and The Noticer is really interesting too. The Noticer is also based on truth, written by the same man who wrote The Traveler's Gift.
    I also think The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch) is really interesting. Not necessarily about God, but more about living life and stuff. The lecture itself can be found on YouTube. It's long, but I think it's worth the time.

  11. @Rebecca
    I hadn't heard of any of those books except The Last Lecture (which I've watched, but not read). My reading list is filling up fast! Jesus with Dirty Feet makes me think of Walking with Dirty Feet, my cousin's blog about spending a summer with homeless people on the streets of Portland. Also a good read :)


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