Each summer I like to read through a stack of books – mostly nonfiction, my preference – in order to give you some recommendations for your own beach days and poolside reading. It’s been a cold spring here in NoMi so we’ve spent NO time at the beach, sadly, but I’ve had plenty of evening hammock and fireside reading! Here are five books I recommend for deepening your faith these next few months in the sun.
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I’d heard of this book a few years ago but it wasn’t until I spied it at my favorite resale shop that I actually took the time to read. I’m slowly working through it, but I already know I will refer many people to read this book. If you are:
- coming out of a legalistic background
- struggle to understand and/or accept God’s grace
- struggle with bitterness or unforgiveness
- don’t understand the role of repentance and grace
- simply want a great book to deepen your walk with God
This is the book to read. Swindoll has an extremely approachable reading style that would be understandable for even the newest believer.
I am about halfway through this book, and I have a lot of thoughts about it. It’s a book that I already know is controversial among conservative Christians (it’s not new) because the topic turns on “contemplative spirituality” and emotional health in tandem. Scazzero makes the point that we cannot mature spiritually if we are immature emotionally. As someone who is currently growing in this area myself, I have found this book immensely helpful. The author takes care to specifically define contemplative spirituality as those biblical practices of silence, solitude, prayer, and meditation on God’s Word which are not just characteristic of a strong devotional life in the saints of church history (and by saints I mean Christians) but ALSO in the lives of people like David, Moses, Abraham, and Jesus Himself. With this definition in mind, the book’s premise makes solid, biblical sense. (Too many believers throw out good material because one phrase rings of New Age spiritualism. Consider this: Christianity owned these practices first.)
For someone who has repressed their emotions, been told feelings don’t matter, or was raised in an extremely critical environment where emotions weren’t “allowed”, I think this book could be very helpful. But for people who tend to be ruled by their emotions or use personality as an excuse to live without self control, I think this book could be enabling. I want to recommend it universally, but I would use discernment when sharing this book with others.
This, like The Logic of God, is an apologetics book. If my first recommendation is for the newbie to apologetics, this is the intermediate version. It delves into 12 areas in which Christianity must answer for itself – written by a believer who is challenging the church to face it’s own tough questions. The book addresses how Christianity deals with homosexuality, slavery, women, and evil.
It is a heavy, notated read, so you will need to be mentally prepared for the sheer magnitude of research that backs up McLaughlin’s points. Perhaps not something to read right before bedtime as it takes some concentration to get through, but you’ll be so glad you took the time. It’s an excellent choice for anyone needing to give an answer to tough questions about our faith.
It breaks my heart that church history has largely been ignored in evangelical circles. Many Christians are taught a little bit about Martin Luther and the Reformation (usually to make a point about the evil of the Catholic Church) but have no knowledge of how or why denominations developed, how theology has played out in the church over the years, and essentially, how we got to where we are today. I’ve been doing a series on Instagram about church history, broken down for those who never got to take a class on this topic. This book is my first recommendation for those who want to go deeper!
This is another book that takes some effort to read but is well worth the time. If you want an even more in-depth version, The History of Christianity Parts One and Two by Justo Gonzalez is my other recommendation.
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