Three Books For New Christians

I bought John Stott’s Basic Christianity just for the purpose of giving it to someone. I was thinking about sending it to my mom, so I looked at it last night and surprisingly I didn’t really like it. It went a little against my Reformed sensibilities in some ways, which was extremely surprising, it looked a bit daunting for a new or “nominal” Christian, and the typeface was very small. So I went looking again tonight.

I had also looked at this list:
A Monergism Books Reader’s Guide for the Christian Life which I think is pretty good. But I just wasn’t satisfied with the Introductory Reading list.

So here is what I found. I’m guessing on these also, since I haven’t read them, but I looked at the descriptions and reviews carefully.

Esteban pointed me to D.A. Carson’s The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story. Here is the description:

It can no longer be assumed that most people–or even most Christians–have a basic understanding of the Bible. Many don’t know the difference between the Old and New Testament, and even the more well-known biblical figures are often misunderstood. It is getting harder to talk about Jesus accurately and compellingly because listeners have no proper context with which to understand God’s story of redemption.

In this basic introduction to faith, D. A. Carson takes seekers, new Christians, and small groups through the big story of Scripture. He helps readers to know what they believe and why they believe it. The companion leader’s guide helps evangelistic study groups, small groups, and Sunday school classes make the best use of this book in group settings.

I then remembered suggesting this to our small group quite a while ago. It sounds like just what I’m looking for and I know I love the author, having read a few of his books and many articles and blog posts. I could probably stop there but I found two more I’d like to pass on. (Notice I didn’t say shaaaaare.)

To my surprise, Calvin wrote a book (or it was the start of a later book) for this purpose called Truth for All Time: A Brief Outline of the Christian Faith. In 77 pages he writes about the basics of Christianity, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed, The Lord’s Prayer and love of God.

I also found Bitesize Theology: An ABC of the Christian Faith by Peter Jeffery. It has good reviews that summarize the book well.

So these are my guesses based on everything I could find about them. I think we need to realize just how basic this information needs to be for a new or potential Christian. For some people, the Bible is a great adventure and reading comes easy, even if it isn’t all understood. For others it’s completely daunting, Christianity is bewildering with all of the terms and Biblish, and they can hardly get themselves off to a start if they don’t have people who can personally guide them. Many of us are the former and we need to put ourselves in the others’ place, even if we don’t understand it. I remember seeing a list for new Christians and J.I. Packer’s Knowing God was in the list. I think it’s very basic, but I personally know some people who have been Christians for some time and this book was too much for them. Granted, they may not do a lot of reading, or at least non-fiction that’s at a higher theological level than Max Lucado, but some have to start somewhere and we need to accommodate them even if we lament the lack of Bible literacy.

Anyway, those are my picks. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Also see:
A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology

5 Responses to “Three Books For New Christians”

  1. 1 alan mountford

    Sorry but have to disagree. The standard has always been commentaries, such as Matthew Henry. The new Christian loves the Bible for the Bible’s sake, enjoys it, understands it. What new believers do not understand is the techinicalities, the theology within scripture. However, reading Puritan, Reformed works, helps and excercises the mind toward sound doctrine, which draws a soul more into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

    What is neglected, in these easy-believism days of quick fixes, is that the works of the Puritans are invaluable, far better than anything produced today, and are very much neglected in some quarters, even though brought about by the hand of God.

  2. 2 Alan Mountford

    An after thought. There can be none thicker, dense, stupid, ignorant than myself when first brought into the kingdom of God, from out of the kingdom of the devil. However, because the Holy Ghost resides within the learning was made a great deal easier, though being thick my mental capacity found it hard, yet not as hard as if I had been an unbeliever. As study progresses it becomes easier and easier as light begins to replace the darkness of a fallen mind. Pressing on is what we do as Christians, to learn more theologically sound doctrine so as to understand the mind of God, to be renewed by reading sound doctrine, rather than so much of the waffle that now-a-days issues from pulpits. Those who read Puritan literature find themselves well blessed.

  3. 3 Scripture Zealot

    I actually agree with you, except for the fact that there is nothing modern that is good. Are you familiar with D.A. Carson? He is completely against easy-believism or quick fixes.

    I wish I would have read the Puritans right from the start. I know I would have devoured them. But some people would be so bewildered by them that they would just give up. I don’t understand that, and agree that if they would just read, they would eventually get it. But some people need to start out with very basic explanations before they move on to something more meaty. They can’t start out with meat, they need milk. Maybe I’m wrong and you’re right, but I think we need to understand some are weaker in the faith (although I’m not sure if that applies to this situation or not), which I didn’t want to say in the post.

    I love Matthew Henry too. But not everyone is like Spurgeon and can sit down with their KJV and Matthew Henry and go through the Bible that way. (How about doing that for a year?)

    If it’s milk or nothing, I would choose to give them milk. I don’t understand it, so I’m just trying to help the best I can.

    Maybe someone who was in that situation is reading this and could comment.

  4. 4 tom

    A book that really helped me early on was C.S. Lewis’, “Mere Christianity”. Great book for a “young” believer.

    And believe it or not, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” really hit home to me in the early days of my walk!

    No lie!

  5. 5 Scripture Zealot

    I read “Mere Christianity” but it was so long ago. I’ll have to take a look.

    Same with the other, but I can remember the movie and the ‘story’ was right on. I think more obvious explaining needs to be done but I can see how it could do that for someone. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I was crying in the movie because the passion scene was so horrible to watch. It was too much for me even though I think about it and praise Him for it almost every day. I hate reading that in the gospels when that comes up but I have to. There’s no way I’d get near The Passion of the Christ or whatever the name of it is.

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