Have you ever been asked to introduce yourself in a public setting? What if you were asked to introduce your Christian faith to a group of non-Christians—what would you say?
As you think about the question, you might consider conveying that the Christian faith is a set of beliefs—but it also involves an important collection of values, and it is also very much a way of life. The Christian faith genuinely encompasses all three of these critical components, with their importance likely in the order given (beliefs, values, way of life).
It is important that a Christian be able to talk about their faith, and not just in terms of their personal relationship with God, as important as that is. Christians should be able to talk in an informed manner about their faith as a historic movement that affirms specific doctrinal truths (Trinity, Incarnation, atonement, resurrection) and embraces an identified code of values (moral objectivism grounded in humans bearing the image of God).
If you need help in thinking through historic Christianity and knowing just how to introduce your faith’s core elements, I have three fine books to recommend to you.
Three Brief Introductions to Christianity
All three of these books introduce Christianity, but they do so in different ways. Allow me to briefly describe these works.
1. Mere Christianity (1952) by C. S. Lewis
This book is a contemporary classic and was voted the most important Christian book of the twentieth century. In the preface, Lewis presents the idea of “mere Christianity,” which reflects far more than a book title. This term refers to a group of essential and “agreed, or common, or central” Christian doctrines (such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the atonement) that all branches of historic Christendom (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant) affirm.
Lewis introduces the Christian faith by dividing the book into four parts. Part one discusses the moral order found in the universe as a clue to the cosmos’s meaning and as a pointer to its creator God. Part two explores what Christians believe in terms of doctrine. Part three examines Christian behavior in terms of morality and Christian lifestyle. And part four introduces the Trinity as the heart of embracing the historic faith.
Lewis has offered a wonderful introduction to Christianity. Don’t miss this jewel of a book.
2. Basic Christianity (1958) by John R. W. Stott
This book is widely considered a modern classic among evangelicals and has sold several million copies. This work briefly introduces the Christian faith and seeks to show its truth and importance.
Stott’s book follows a Christological focus in terms of its outline, and he too divides the book into four parts. Part one centers on the person of Christ and surveys Jesus’s claims, character, and resurrection. Part two concentrates upon humankind’s need and examines the nature and consequences of sin. Part three addresses Christ’s work and discusses Jesus’s death and how that atonement secures salvation. Part four looks at humankind’s response to Christ’s saving acts by exploring the cost of affirming Christianity to be true and the challenge of living out its values.
This is a fine introduction to Christianity that can significantly inform and encourage its readers.
3. Essential Christianity (1962) by Walter Martin
This work introduces historic Christianity by functioning as a handbook of basic Christian doctrine. A unique feature of this book is that it addresses doctrine with an apologetics emphasis.
Martin’s book has twelve chapters and addresses, among other issues, the essential Christian truths of Scripture, the Trinity, Christology, atonement, resurrection, spiritual gifts, and end times. The work clearly explains Christian doctrine and provides Scriptural references in support of those teachings.
Walter Martin was one of my teachers in the faith, and I worked for him at the Christian Research Institute many years ago. Essential Christianity is a careful, readable, and helpful introduction to the faith.
All three of these books do a great job of informing and equipping those who read them. I highly recommend reading and studying them all. These works will help you become skilled in introducing your faith. So the next time you have an opportunity to introduce your faith to others, you won’t be at a loss for words.