As I wrote in parts one and two of this three-part series, only human beings read books. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle thought the distinguishing feature of people is their ability to use language. And humans use their unique language ability to think, speak, write, and read.
From a historic Christian perspective, the idea of human exceptionalism is grounded in the biblical truth that people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). This imago Dei endowment makes people capable of hunting and gathering truth. And since Christians affirm a propositional (words, statements) revelation from God in the Bible, they join with the Jewish tradition as People of the Book. Thus, reading is a great gift and privilege, but one may also argue that it is a responsibility according to our profound created nature.
12 Book Favorites
This is part three of a three-part series on some of my favorite books. The topics cover theology, philosophy, apologetics, and education. I also note how the books have been helpful to me. The books are listed in alphabetical order, not order of preference:
9. Saved by Grace by Anthony Hoekema
In this book, Christian theologian Anthony Hoekema presents the biblical and theological case for salvation being an exclusive gift of God. This is a modern Christian classic in the field of soteriology (the study of salvation) and is written from a distinctly Reformed theological perspective. Hoekema makes a biblical, exegetical case for salvation being a divine gift. In a clear and careful manner, Hoekema examines what Scripture teaches on the all-important doctrine of salvation. This book deeply influenced my thinking about God’s grace and how that grace influences the human will in salvation.
The Anglican Church’s The Book of Common Prayer is an excellent resource on all aspects of prayer. It contains a collection of the great formal prayers as well as Christian liturgies and the creeds of the church. It has daily prayers and prayers for all holy days within the Christian calendar. I often find that reading the liturgy helps me to realize how big God is. I often read it because I want the best Christian theology and thought on prayer to shape my mind.
11. The City of God by St. Augustine
Many scholars view this book as Augustine’s magnum opus (Latin for “greatest work”). Along with being a timeless Christian text, this work is considered a literary classic of Western civilization. The City of God stands as Augustine’s monumental world-and-life-view analysis. In this book, Augustine laid new foundations in the field of Christian apologetics and in the analysis of Christian history. This is a work to be studied over many years, and I return often to this Christian masterpiece.
12. The Republic by Plato
This book stands as a classic of Western civilization in the fields of philosophy and political theory. While the great Greek philosopher Plato wrote this work some 2,400 years ago, it remains amazingly relevant to contemporary society in asking questions about the nature of justice. In The Republic, Plato raises deep philosophical questions concerning goodness, reality, knowledge, and education. Plato’s masterwork remains one the most widely read books in the world today. This book is arguably the greatest philosophical work ever written, and it has impacted me greatly.
So these are the final four out of my list of a dozen of my favorite and most useful books.
From the Latin Tolle lege, I invite you to “take up and read”!
Reflections: Your Turn
Other than the Bible, what is your favorite book written by a Christian author? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.
- For a more thorough introduction to Saved by Grace, see my article “Take Up and Read: Saved by Grace.”
- For more about The City of God and two other Christian classics, see my article “Three Historic Christian Classics.”