Monday, March 06, 2006

'Where Should I Start?'

The other day I was asked by a regular attendee about books to introduce her to the Christian faith. I actually don't have many books that could be considered 'introductory' other than a few church history textbooks, so I went with books of the Bible instead.

So here's the question for my readership: what books of the Bible would you recommend to someone looking into Christian faith?

This is what I passed along to her...

The Gospel of Luke - Illustrates Jesus' purpose to 'bring good news to the poor...to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor...to proclaim the kingdom of God.' He tells a young man that love of God and neighbor leads to eternal life and follows up with a story about neighbors with a surprise ending. A story of forgiveness and grace is told about two sons and their father. Jesus is revealed in the breaking of bread to two downtrodden disciples. This Gospel is one of hope and challenge.

Philippians - Emphasizes Jesus' obedience and the strength we find as we seek to follow him.

James - 'Faith without works is dead.' 'Religion undefiled before God is to care for orphans and widows.' 'Even the demons believe, and shudder.' This is a letter about faith as reflected in action, not faith that leaves complacent. It is an extension of Luke's Jesus.

Honorable mentions that weren't mentioned are Exodus, with its story of learning what it means to be God's people, Micah with its commentary on what the Lord requires, and 1 John with its commentary on true love.

2 comments:

MMM said...

Acts of the Apostles...it wshows wwhat the people did who still believed after Jesus left them, and it contains the story of Paul. Oh, Paul, that rabid old sinner changedd in an instant by that Light tap on the head! :)

LutheranChik said...

Gospel of Mark: Short, to the point, no embellishment.

Henri Nouwen -- I can't think of any of his books that don't powerfully illustrate someone living into his Christianity in a profound, passionate way.

Mere Christianity and Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis -- I first read these in college, and while 20 years later I tend to read the former with a more critical eye, I think it's still an excellent "gateway" book for a newbie Christian.

The Gospel According to Peanuts by Robert Short. I love this book, and some of the dated "groovy" language aside, it's an excellent exposition of the Christian faith.

Dakota and Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris -- the first a spiritual bio, the second a useful exploration of "Christianese" words that we often use without thinking about very much.

Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith by Nora Gallagher. I'd recommend this book to someone who is coming (back) to Christianity with crossed fingers. It's smart, skeptical, not at all pious.

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. I find that people either really love or really hate her writing, but this is a very heartfelt, sometimes funny, often irreverent spiritual bio of a former "wild child."