There is just something powerful and profound about the way the written word encourages the mind to push past previously erected boundaries and ideas. Of course, while questioning ideas or pushing past boundaries, often existing beliefs and faith are challenged. However, instead of fearing this push beyond the status quo, believers should welcome it because it is within that challenge that their faith can be made stronger.
The following are seven books that are worth reading for the sheer challenge they pose to people of faith as recommended in part by Christopher Smith, the editor of The Englewood Review of Books.
1.) A Generous Orthodoxy
Written by: Brian McLaren
This book insightfully considers the traditional views of the Christian faith and explores how modern elements are needed to better minister to today’s believers. Christopher Smith describes it as follows:
“This course steers clear both of tossing tradition to the wind and being so tightly bound to tradition that we cannot respond faithfully and courageously to the realities of our time.”
2.) “Silence: A Novel”
Written by: Shusaku Endo
Set in seventeenth century Japan, this book wrestles topics such as, “How do we know what it means to follow Jesus, when God so often seems silent?” For example, the story follows Father Rodrigues, a Portuguese missionary, who faces some life changing questions that challenge his own preconceived notions of what it means to live out one’s faith. He must decide whether or not to renounce his beloved faith in order to save the lives of other Christians, or hold firm in a rigid manner and thus condemn them. The book has recently been adapted into film by Martin Scorsese.
3.) The Poisonwood Bible
Written by: Barbara Kingsolver
This well-written novel looks at what it means to proclaim the gospel in a distant land in which one does not reside. It is set in the Belgian Congo in the early 1960s, and follows a Baptist missionary family, the Prices. This family faces various challenges as they seek to share the gospel of Christ with those who live within the harsh realities of central Africa.
4.) Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism
Written by: Drew Hart
The United States has a long history of racism and unfortunately, this doesn’t stop at the church doors. In this book, Hart narrates a story that showcases how this regretful history has shaped today’s churches. He also shares how to find God’s healing even in the midst of the hatred.
5.) Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, and The Mission of the Church
Written by: N.T. Wright
The gospel is often proclaimed with an emphasis on the hereafter, or eternal life. While that isn’t necessarily bad, this book looks at why it’s also important to live faithfully in the here and now. This book challenges those with a strictly evangelical mindset to not discard that, but to also embrace what God can do for people before they reach their eternal home, while they still reside on earth.
6.) The Cost of Discipleship
Written by: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
In this book, Bonhoeffer challenges believers to transform their faith into something larger than their own personal selves. Believers will learn why their life of faith should be rooted in God’s transformative attributes, which will not only transform each person’s life individually, but all of creation. It also looks at what faith in Christ costs, and it’s not cheap.
7.) Stop Asking Christ Into Your Heart
Written by: J. D. Greear
This eye opening book explores what it truly means to become a believer. It explores the difference between true saving faith and simply walking an aisle. One quote from the book sums it up best,
“Salvation is not given because you prayed a prayer correctly but because you have leaned the hopes of your soul on the finished work of Christ.” J.D. Grear
Just as a muscle will only grow when it is pushed to exhaustion, sometimes faith needs a bit of a push to grow stronger. The seveb books listed above will do just that for a believer, which makes them ideal for anyone wishing to achieve a deeper level of faith.
~ 1776 Christian