Read some of the hot books by many modern, well known preachers/teachers/authors, and you’ll notice a certain shallowness that’s hard to put a finger on. It’s almost as if many of these people are simply repeating what they have heard others say without putting any real thought into it themselves. Often this comes across as being insincere – as if the one speaking hasn’t internalized what he is trying to talk about. (I won’t name any names because I don’t want to criticize anyone doing the Lord’s work.)
But there is a lot to say, and there is a lot that is not being said. C.S Lewis understood that, as we all know from his writings. I know most people feel he ushered in the era of modern Christian writing. He wrote deep things. John Bunyan, Martin Luther, Oswald Chambers, and many others have also written deep things. But who writes like that now? I don’t wish to see the Christian writers, leaders, and teachers of our era relegate themselves to know-nothingness. I don’t want us to simply repeat C.S. Lewis or any of the other great writers without thinking for ourselves. I want to read something original and deep but based on the same truths we have known for two thousand years.
A Dearth of Deep Thought
I’m amazed at the general lack of deep thought that goes into Christian subjects such as: sin, Heaven, forgiveness, righteousness, and unrighteousness. Preachers, writers, and teachers talk about these terms as if they know what they mean. They assume that you and I know what they mean as well, but one mustn’t assume. Consider the following.
A Quick Example
Take the word “sin” for example. Does anyone know what it means? It’s an archaic archery term that we use to describe certain aspects of human behavior that the Old Testament Law says not to engage in. But think about it a while, and it suddenly becomes impossible to draw the line between what’s a sin and what isn’t. As long as Christian writers, preachers, and teachers talk about sin in this way, most people are going to dismiss the idea altogether. Why? It’s because they cannot come to grips with the thought that God will punish them for some behaviors that are so natural that they cannot, by the greatest exercise of will-power, completely abstain.
But let us think outside the normal spectrum of rational thought. Let’s define sin as a condition or identity that we are all born into just like one might be born male or female or with a certain last name. This is the New Testament’s view of sin(Christ’s teaching about it). Jesus said that being born again will erase the old sin condition entirely. With this truth, we can build a framework for understanding who Jesus is, why that’s so important, what he came to do, and why it works so perfectly. We can truly explain why the New Testament never refers to Christ’s followers as “sinners”. We might then understand why, in the book of 1 John, it is written, “Even in this world we have become as He is.” (1 John 4:17)
Respect for the Bible…but no interest in reading it
Most people have great respect for the Bible, but they just don’t read it. Truths within are so simple that a child could understand them, yet at the same time they are so complex that the wisest minds must expend hours, months, and sometimes years to even faintly grasp. A.W. Tozer said this about it.
Though God in this threefold revelation has provided answers to our questions concerning Him, the answers by no means lie on the surface. They must be sought by prayer, by long meditation on the written Word, and by earnest and well-disciplined labor. However brightly the light may shine, it can be seen only by those who are spiritually prepared to receive it.
Knowledge of the Holy – A.W. Tozer
Most people treat the Bible like a soothing cup of ice cream to drown away the day’s worries. But I read it differently now. I study it in hopes that I might find some hidden truth I can write down that will help those around me see through the fog, understand with their hearts, and turn, and He will heal them. (Matthew 13:55)
It all Might be True
The one thing everyone is going to have to square with is this: we might all suddenly wake up in the next world and realize it was all true. This is the horrifying thought that made C.S. Lewis believe in Jesus – he was an Atheist, but he began to be afraid that it might all be true.
Some Great Books about the Bible
Maybe you’re a skeptic, an atheist, a non-Christian, or a born-again believer – regardless of what you are, I know you have questions buried in the back of your mind that you would like answered. Maybe you don’t know how to ask some of them. The following books will shed some light – I promise.
A new book, Jesus, Why and How? explains what’s wrong about people that goes beyond the bad things they do. It paints sin as an identity problem that Jesus can solve now, rather than a behavior problem that isn’t immediately solved once a person puts their faith in Christ – and it answers the question, “Who was Jesus?” It also makes the case for eternal life and describes, through a series of examples, the Bible’s association of light with life and darkness with death. This book takes the position that one must discard human wisdom/understanding when trying to explain the Bible. (disclaimer: this is the blog author’s book. I’m not trying to put it on the same level as the rest on this list – you decide and let me know how good or bad it is.)
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Goodreads) This is a classic apologetic book that provides, as the title states, a reason for God. It’s a great book for skeptics and anyone who might want to debate with an atheist.
The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life (Goodreads) This book talks a lot about trusting God and how the Christian is most happy when he or she trusts completely in Christ. It sounds like a cliché title, but it is truly a good book. It’s not as well known as some others on this page, but it’s possibly one of the best.
The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (Goodreads) In this book, Tozer confronts people’s beliefs about God and the facts about God. He asserts that most peoples’ view of God is a sum of their own feelings about how he might be rather than how he really is. He expounds on how God is unknowable and his attributes are hidden from our perspective. But the Christian has the mind of Christ and is able to understand spiritual things. (Tozer and C.S. Lewis were born 1 year apart.)
The Cross of Christ (Goodreads) This is an old classic with some great quotes to be read and contemplated. The first book in this list, Jesus, Why and How? quotes John Stott in at least one place.