Compiled by Edward and Cindy Waters
(Sixth Revised Edition)
It should be obvious that the following is not an exhaustive list of what is worthwhile in Christian literature, nor is it intended to dismiss the value of much written outside this field. Its purpose is merely to provide believers with guidance in selecting resources which may be of help to their basic understanding of Scripture and their growth toward mature discipleship. Our criteria for including works have been that (1) we were familiar with them ourselves and so could prescribe them with modest authority, (2) they seemed to us sound in their representation of biblical Truth, (3) we felt them likely to prove comprehensible to the average reader, and (4) they were (as of this revision) still in print and not difficult to acquire within the continental United States.
We ought perhaps to mention that we have no financial investment in any organization which might profit from the sale of these items; and furthermore that, having recommended them, we would feel it a moral imperative to refuse any gratuity offered after the fact, lest we compromise the credibility of our counsel.
Because long-standing works may change publishers over time or may be issued simultaneously by more than one company, we have indicated books simply by title and author except in the case of publications available only from smaller firms. The contact information shown with periodicals is that of their subscription services.
This list is not under copyright and may be duplicated freely.
[GENERAL COMMENTS: The two most important considerations in choosing a Bible are whether it faithfully translates the Hebrew and Greek in which the Scriptures were first written, and whether this translation communicates clearly to the reader. Without disrespect to the King James Version, first issued in the year 1611 and most familiar in its 1769 revision, we feel these requirements are best satisfied today by the versions named below. Once the translation has been decided upon, it should be purchased in what is called a 'reference edition', which will usually include a partial concordance and some maps. There are also many kinds of 'Study Bibles' which may provide introductory comments to each biblical section and a limited commentary alongside the text. Some of these are better than others, but beyond the basics of the reference edition we have found that the best study aids are those published separately, such as the items shown in the next section on Biblical Study Tools.]
New American Standard Bible: Updated Edition
Known for its literal rendering of the original languages. We particularly recommend the 'Side-Column Reference' edition, which offers extensive cross-references and clarification of difficult translation choices.
New International Version
One of the most popular of modern translations, less word-for-word literal than the NASB but generally reliable.
English Standard Version
A newer, 'essentially literal' translation, somewhere between the NASB and NIV in its precision. Available in both U.S. and Anglicized editions.
Biblical Study Tools
[DEFINITIONS: A BIBLE COMMENTARY provides an interpretation of the text verse-by-verse or section-by-section and typically will include background information on each book of Scripture. A BIBLE HANDBOOK is similar to this, but tends to emphasize background over interpretation and will sometimes include maps, timelines, and other materials. A BIBLE DICTIONARY and a BIBLE ENCYCLOPAEDIA both define major terms and concepts of Scripture and theology, and usually differ from one another only in degree of detail provided, if at all. A CONCORDANCE is an index to the words of the Bible used for finding passages quickly.]
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, by Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart
Understanding and Applying the Bible, by J. Robertson McQuilkin
Knowing Scripture, by R.C. Sproul
New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by G. Wenham et al.
One of the best single-volume, whole-Bible commentaries on the market.
Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, edited by James D.G. Dunn & John Rogerson
Another single-volume work, from one of our favourite publishers.
Zondervan Handbook to the Bible, edited by David & Pat Alexander
Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, edited by Ronald F. Youngblood
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, by James Strong
Based on the King James Version, but a classic work that has never been equalled.
Zondervan NASB Exhaustive Concordance
In the spirit of Strong's, but keyed to the New American Standard Bible.
Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, by Edward W. Goodrick & John R.
Hammond's Atlas of the Bible Lands, edited by Harry Thomas Frank
Many atlases are more extensive and look more impressive, but this is the one that gets used.
Holman Book of Biblical Charts, Maps, and Reconstructions, edited by Marsha A. Ellis
Smith et al.
Basic Christian Teachings
My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers
First published in 1935, this devotional has become both a classic and a best-seller.
The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life, by Os Guinness
Possibly Guinness's most readable work. Clarifies what the call of Christ is and the different ways the words 'Follow Me' apply to each individual believer.
The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, by C.S. Lewis
Through a fictional correspondence, the author explores the nature of prayer and its role in everyday life.
Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
Excellent summary of essential Christian belief and practice, plus some unique arguments in its defense, by an Oxford lecturer and former atheist.
Miracles, by C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
Looks at the Christian life from the perspective of a pair of devils seeking to subvert it. By turns hilarious and incisive, this is arguably one of the best books on temptation ever written!
An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, by J. Robertson McQuilkin
An extraordinarily thorough yet balanced work which explores the complexities of exercising Christian values in the modern world.
Knowing God, by J.I. Packer
Your God Is Too Small, by J.B. Phillips
Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History, by Francis A. Schaeffer
Uses the events and characters of the Old Testament book of Joshua to understand God's ways of relating to humanity throughout the rest of Scripture and today.
Basic Christianity, by John R.W. Stott
The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer
Overview of the attributes of God.
The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer
An invaluable handbook for the believer seeking God when He seems silent and elusive.
The Jesus I Never Knew, by Philip Yancey
Looks past the distortions of Christ which have become ingrained in our traditions to the Son of God as He is depicted in the gospels.
What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey
Explores, through anecdotes and reflection, the quality which distinguishes Christianity from all other faiths.
Difficult Issues & Contemporary Concerns
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art, by Madeleine L'Engle
Complete Jewish Bible, translated by David H. Stern
Jesus was a Jew; so were the first Christians; and much of the New Testament reflects Jewish culture and perspective. Yet centuries of Gentile dominance in the Church have obscured these elements. Dr. Stern is a Jewish Christian and scholar who has produced a serious translation that brings again to light a vital part of every believer's heritage.
Jewish New Testament Commentary, by David H. Stern
A companion volume to the Complete Jewish Bible (above), further developing the insights of the translation.
Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture, by Gene E. Veith, Jr.
Disappointment With God, by Philip Yancey
Where Is God When It Hurts? by Philip Yancey
Evidences for the Christian Faith
Between Heaven & Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley, by Peter Kreeft
In this clever dramatization, three famous men, all of whom died on the same day, meet en route to their eternal destinations and debate the prospect of Heaven and Hell, the meaning of life, and whether Jesus was truly God. The author, drawing on Lewis's own writing, pits biblical Christianity against modern humanism, Gnostic interpretation of the New Testament, and the popular argument that all faiths are the same at heart.
Know Why You Believe, by Paul E. Little
Answers to Tough Questions: What Skeptics Are Asking About the Christian Faith, by Josh McDowell & Don Stewart
The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell
An updated, reformatted, and indexed edition, combining in a single volume what has been, for more than a quarter of a century, one of the best compilations of apologetics from a wide range of sources.
More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell
Follows the same outline as the original, first volume of Evidence..., but written more for reading than for reference.
Biographies, Testimonies, & Missions
God's Smuggler, by Brother Andrew
On one man's campaign to get Bibles to Christians under Communist persecution.
Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, by Elisabeth Elliot
On the still-remembered and beloved 20th-century martyr famous for the words, 'He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.'
C.S. Lewis: A Biography, by Roger L. Green & Walter Hooper
On the brilliant Oxford scholar, popular author, and erstwhile atheist who became one of Christianity's greatest defenders against modern scepticism.
A Man Called Peter, by Catherine Marshall
The life of Peter Marshall, a poor Scottish immigrant whose heart for God and eloquent preaching eventually led to the pastorate of Washington's 'Church of the Presidents' -- and chaplaincy of the U.S. Senate.
A Promise Kept: The Story of an Unforgettable Love, by J. Robertson McQuilkin
On the devotion of one husband who resigned as president of a renowned Christian university to become a full-time caregiver after his wife developed Alzheimer's disease.
Bruchko, by Bruce E. Olson
On a 1960s teenager whose lone venture into the jungles of South America would challenge traditional approaches to missions throughout the world.
Peace Child, by Don Richardson
The classic account of a daunting missionary endeavour transformed through an unexpected insight into the culture.
L'Abri, by Edith Schaeffer
On the life, ministry, and legacy of Edith and Francis Schaeffer.
The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom
On one Christian family's rescue of Jews from Nazi genocide, the price they paid for their compassion, and what they learned of the depth and reach of God's love.
The Cross and the Switchblade, by David Wilkerson
On a country preacher's ground-breaking work among New York street gangs.
Christianity Today (14 issues per year) <www.christianitytoday.com/ctmag>, P.O. Box 37060, Boone, IA 50037-0060; Tel: 1-800-999-1704; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
More annoying advertisements per page than we would prefer, but otherwise a good, thought-provoking, and surprisingly objective overview of current events and issues affecting Christians in the USA and the world at large.
First Things (10 issues per year) <www.firstthings.com>, P.O. Box 401, Mt. Morris, IL 61054; Tel: 1-877-905-9920; E-Mail: email@example.com
The New York Times Magazine called it 'the spiritual nerve centre of the new conservatism'. This serious and insightful look at Christianity's mission in the modern world holds to biblical truth while avoiding the trendiness and shallow rhetoric of much evangelical sub-culture.
Mars Hill Audio Journal [formerly, Mars Hill Tapes] (bimonthly) <www.marshillaudio.org>, P.O. Box 7826, Charlottesville, VA 22906-7826; Tel: 1-800-331-6407; E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Available on cassette tape or CD. Each installment contains a collection of interviews, discussions, and critiques on contemporary news and culture from a thinking Christian perspective. The producer and host was formerly with National Public Radio, and the tapes have the feel of the NPR news programs 'Morning Edition' and 'All Things Considered'. Highly recommended.
Christian Book Distributors <www.christianbook.com>, P.O. Box 7000, Peabody, MA 01961-7000; Tel: 1-800-247-4784
The best selection for the lowest prices we've found (rivalling Amazon.com)! Most of the book titles listed above can be found in the main bimonthly catalogue or through the website.
Sound Word Associates <www.soundword.com>, P.O. Box 2036, Chesterton, IN 46304; Tel: (219) 548-0933
Literally thousands of lectures on cassette tape, CD, and video! These are the people who record L'Abri Conferences and supply the tape libraries of L'Abri branches in the USA. Lecturers include Francis & Edith Schaeffer, Dick & Mardi Keyes, Os Guinness, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the C.S. Lewis Institute, and many others.
Blackstone Audiobooks <www.blackstoneaudio.com>, P.O. Box 969, Ashland, OR 97520; Tel: 1-800-729-2665
Although not exclusively Christian like the sources listed above, this company's offerings (available on cassette tape and CD, for purchase or for rental) include a remarkable selection of unabridged readings of works by Christian authors, both classic and contemporary: C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Brother Andrew, Corrie ten Boom, Elisabeth Elliot, Paul E. Little, Josh McDowell, J.I. Packer, and more.
[Revised: July 2004]