theology books

Must Read Books for New Christians

I have been wanting to compile a list of “must read” books for new Christians to read (or for Christians new to reading).

What the list should look like

This list would need to be very accessible, both in the language used, and in wide availability, rock solid theologically, varied in topic and genre, engaging, “doable” reads (i.e., shying away from Grudem’s systematic and Calvin’s institutes), and from a variety of authors, publishers, and theological leanings (within range of biblically sound). For some reason whenever I compile this list it consists mainly of new books, thinking that they would be gateways to older classic works.

The problem with making a list

Every time I sit down to compile such a list, things get complicated really fast, because there are many, many books I’d like to put on the list, and often there are several on the same subject, each offering something different enough to be worth a read, but not different enough to have two of on the same list. Pretty soon I start thinking about multiple lists by topic (must read books on Corporate Worship, must read books on Systematic Theology, etc.)

It’s a bit like trying to pick your top five favorite songs of all time.

Because the list would need to be balanced, I’d necessarily need to leave out books I think everyone should read. This gets to be a headache. I’ve even tried just brainstorming all the books I think belong on such a list, but I quickly get hung up on things like ranking (do people really need to read three missiology books before they get to any systematic theology books?)

The one book that always makes the list

But each time I attempt the list, item number one, zero, or superseding the list because at the moment I feel it to be sacrilege to put the book on the list is, of course, The Bible.

Every new Christian must read their Bible constantly. They should read it more than they read anything else. For every page of non-Bible, they should read a page of The Bible.

Have a plan to read this book constantly, thoroughly (read the whole thing consistently), carefully, and frequently.

Dive right in. Start reading the whole thing, from the beginning. Ask questions about what you are reading, keep these questions in a journal. Seek answers to these questions.

Find out who the Nephilim are. Figure out why a God who supposedly “is love” would order the genocide of entire nation-states. Understand Romans 9. Don’t stop.

Seek out good teachers. You won’t be able to answer many (any?) of the questions on your own. God revealed His Word to us in such a way that it requires a community to plumb it’s depths. Read several versions at the same time. Get a study bible (the kind with more notes than Bible in it, but stick to the Bible : non-Bible ratio above when reading them). Ask multiple people the same question and compare their answers. Demand that they defend the differences.

Gulp it down in huge draughts. Don’t settle for five minutes a day. This book is your life! Know it. Do it. Teach it.

Worry about the rest of the books on the list later.





2 responses to “Must Read Books for New Christians”

  1. AJ Avatar

    After Scripture of course….”Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton.

  2. Jason Blair Avatar

    Best book list of all time. Related to your thought to read huge draughts at one time, consider reading entire books of the Bible at one time – even the big ones. If there is one thing I picked up taking Bible courses in the last three years that is accessible to all Christians and more valuable than we realize, it’s taking a whole book in one reading. Along with your wise statement that we need to study in the community of faith, reading huge sections also guards us against proof-texting.

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