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Other than the Bible, what one book do you wish every Christian would read and why? Provide a brief summary.
Samuel Barber (Pastoral Assistant, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)
In an attempt to avoid being predictable, I tried to think of a book besides John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; I just couldn’t do it. It is a must-read for every Christian. In this allegory Bunyan so wonderfully draws together story and theology, and depicts such vivid experimental Christianity that I glean from it every time I read it. It is the story of a man named Graceless (renamed Christian), who at the instruction of Evangelist, sets out from the City of Destruction for the Celestial City to flee from the wrath to come on account of his sin. The perilous journey upon which he embarks provides invaluable insights into the hardships, snares, triumphs, and glories of the Christian life. As the reader follows Christian’s journey to the Celestial City his heart is powerfully drawn toward heaven and he is given strength and grace to press on in his own pilgrimage.
Wayne Brandow (Pastor, Bible Baptist Church of Galway, New York)
I would recommend John Bunyan’s, Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan has given us pictures of the journey of the Christian life from being awakened to one’s sin and need of Christ, unto one’s crossing over the river of death and entrance into heaven. I used the word pictures, plural rather than singular, because more than one person’s life is chronicled in this allegory. The journeys of Christian, Faithful, Hopeful, Christiana, and Mercy are set before the reader. The similarities and differences they meet on the way make known that although some aspects are central to all, such as going through the wicket gate rather than climbing over the wall (Christ is the door), the Christian’s experiences are not uniformly the same. We are all different, yet have the same basic need. This book shows us how to live the Christian life and the helps and the hindrances along the way.
Marc Grimaldi (Pastor, Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Merrick, New York)
Aside from the Bible, no book has greater impacted my life in a practical way more than, War of Words by Paul David Tripp. It is amazing to see how much our words reveal about what is going on in our hearts. Since we spend so much time speaking, it is thoroughly profitable to examine our speech as a critical means of addressing our hearts and working toward change, by way of the cross.
I wish every Christian would read this book as it is tremendously beneficial for enhancing unity, love, patience, long suffering, and basically every Christian virtue to which the Scriptures call us. Brother Tripp addresses this important subject humbly and tenderly, using his own personal struggles as a template for all that he attempts to get across.
Nicholas Kennicott (Pastor, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)
I wish every Christian would read and understand The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher (with Thomas Boston’s notes). My favorite preacher, Sinclair Ferguson, says anyone who “comes to grips with the issues raised in [this book] will almost certainly grow by leaps and bounds in understanding… the grace of God, the Christian life, and the very nature of the gospel itself.” The story of the books writing and publication is fascinating in itself, but more important is what it says. In my own personal life and ministry I have come to see a right understanding of the relationship between the law and the gospel as essential to fruitful, satisfying life with God and neighbor. Fisher provides a biblical corrective to both antinomianism and licentiousness in his captivating conversation through various interlocutors to lead his readers to a balanced, biblical understanding of the most essential truths of the faith.
Chris Marley (Pastor, Miller Valley Baptist Church of Miller Valley, Arizona)
This is a difficult question, because the book choice would very much depend on the individual. Pastors often “prescribe” books based on spiritual health, strengths, and weaknesses. For a man called to the ministry, it would be Horatius Bonar’s Words to Winners of Souls or Edmund Clowney’s Called to the Ministry. For the believer with a frail disposition, it would be Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening to give them a bi-daily refocusing and encouragement. I suppose the only book that covers the whole gamut would be Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress with both Christian’s and Christiana’s narratives. It has material for men, women, children, pastors, and ordinary saints. It reminds all of us that our personal narratives are part of a greater one, and that our trials have been successfully endured by those before us. It also does a great job of connecting human experience to Scripture passages.
Douglas Van Dorn (Pastor, Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado)
I know you are out there, people who are just like I used to be. Try Stephen Lawhead’s Taliesen, the first book of the Pendragon Cycle. Why? Not because it is the best book I’ve ever read, though I absolutely love it. Not because it is theologically rich or necessary. It is just fiction. Rather, this book changed my life. This is the book that took me from hating reading to loving it. Somehow, and I’m not proud of this, I managed to make it half way through college without ever reading a full book. Ever. I can’t tell you how much I despised reading. If you hate reading, then it doesn’t matter what book I recommend to you, you won’t read it. Therefore, figure out what you love in life and start there. Learn to love reading first. Then I’ll recommend all sorts of books, like Calvin’s Institutes.