A Few Good Reads

One of my favorite questions to ask my family and friends is: “So what are you reading right now?” I think hearing what someone is reading not only tells you a lot about the reader and stimulates some interesting conversation, but it also can point you in the direction of your next must-read — especially if it’s a good Christian book.

As it happens, one of the most frequent questions I receive from listeners is: “Can you recommend any good Christian books (the Bible notwithstanding)?” Now in the past, I’ve put out end-of-year book lists, highlighting what I thought were the best Christian titles of the year. But if you’re anything like I am, sometimes you just want to hear what someone is reading right now.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d share just a snapshot of a few of the books that I’m reading at the moment (I never could just read one at a time). I hope you’ll be encouraged to check them out, too! Here are a few of my current picks:

  • “The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth, Vol. I,” Ed. by R.A. Torrey, A.C. Dixon, et al. One of the biggest pejoratives anyone can throw at a Christian these days is: “Fundamentalist!” Well, this is the series that first gave them that word. This 12-volume set (later a four-volume set, which is the one I own) was published beginning in 1910 as a defense of the faith against Modernism. And with the help of some generous benefactors, as Torrey noted, the volumes were sent free of charge to “300,000 ministers and missionaries and other workers in different parts of the world.” I’ve owned the set for several years and recently decided it was time to buckle down and tackle it. Am I glad I did! Regardless of the caricatures, these volumes faithfully outline and defend the key doctrines of the Christian faith, with essays on the deity and virgin birth of Christ, the incarnation and justification by faith. But the writers also tackle other important subjects from a biblical perspective, including Darwinism, preaching, Satan and his kingdom, Mormonism and socialism. I’m in the midst of the Higher Criticism section of Volume I, and I am struck by how unbelievably relevant the information is to modern evangelicalism. All I can say is: The church desperately needs to read these essays again. Anybody got a spare million to re-ship them to a new generation of pastors and church leaders?
  • “Holistic Mission: Weighed in the Balances” by Dr. ES Williams. Ever wondered why we hear so much about “holistic mission,” “cultural relevance” or “contextualization” in the church today? If so, you need to read this book. In it, Dr. Williams examines the history of how evangelism and social action came to be linked as the “dual mission” of the church and how this paradigm shift has moved evangelicalism away from biblical truth and the Great Commission. Tracing the roots of the trend from the 19th Century through liberal theology and the Social Gospel Movement, Williams notes, “The effect of the holistic model is to make social reform part of the evangelical mandate, and the Great Commission is understood to include both social activity and evangelism.” He adds that holistic mission “is the product of a politically-motivated reinterpretation of Scripture … It is deeply heretical because it redefines the very meaning of the gospel itself — the priority of the gospel is no longer the salvation of sinners, but the socio-political transformation of society.” This is an eye-opening read that explains a lot about what we’re seeing in seminaries. on the mission field and on the Internet today — and why we so desperately need to recover a biblical view of the mission of the church.
  • “End-Times Prophecy: Ancient Wisdom for Uncertain Times” by Dr. John Walvoord. Dr. Walvoord, the longtime president of Dallas Theological Seminary, was one of the most important dispensational theologians of the 20th century and is still known worldwide for his emphasis on eschatology and the end times. And yet, I was ashamed to realize recently that I’d never actually read any of his books. This one became my starting point, and it’s definitely stepped up my interest in biblical prophecy. Beginning with an “End Times Timeline,” Walvoord takes the reader through every event from the Antichrist and Tribulation to Judgment Day and Heaven, examining key prophecies from Genesis to Revelation. Even if you’re not a dispensationalist, this is a very helpful biblical walk-through of all the big events of the Last Days, with the goal of encouraging believers to dig deeply into Scripture and trust in the Lord’s master plan for His church.
  • “America is Too Young to Die” by Leonard Ravenhill. Few Christian authors can pack a spiritual wallop quite like Ravenhill, and that’s what has made me pick up this book of essays over and over. Even though this book was written years ago, I needed to hear his biblical admonitions again. In one chapter, he says, “We need a trumpet voice again to sluggish believers that God requires holiness of His people,” while in another, “What is it that is missing from our churches? To use an Old Testament term, it is the burden of the Lord. … Where is the lamenting for the lost?” He pulls no punches with his exhortations for America to get right with the Lord and for the church to lead the way. In this call to revival, Ravenhill reminds Christians to resist “the curse of compromise, imitation and professionalism.” Amen!

Those are my picks for the week … and now I’m off to continue my reading. Hope you’ll join me!

“There never yet have been, nor are there now, too many good books.” ~ Martin Luther