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Mere Christianity ~ C.S.Lewis Although Clive Staples Lewis wasn't a theologian, he had a degrees in philosophy and literature. He had the innate ability to write in such a way as to reach all readers through his down to earth analogies and visualizations. Mere Christianity transcends the many interpretations of scripture by not quoting the Bible often, Instead, Lewis deals out some of the most easy to understand analysis ever put forth in Christian literature. Example- “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” In the preface to MC, Lewis describes himself as "a very ordinary layman of the Church of England." This of course is a very humble sounding statement from a man who was very obviously a great scholar of brilliant mind. He makes his arguments succinctly in plain language without delving into denominational arguments over doctrine. MC is just as at home in a Baptist church as an Episcopal. The book consists of four sub-books: Book I: Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe Book II: What Christians Believe Book III: Christian Behavior Book IV: Beyond Personality: or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity Lewis first observation is that there seems to be a universal morality among all people. This morality that we expect from others is what Lewis calls the Moral Law. A conscious discernment of right and wrong. It is what Paul mentioned in Romans 2:15 "They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)" Lewis argues essentially that God being a spirit being can not reveal Himself directly. Since He is not directly observable, He can only reveal Himself indirectly. This is, in fact, what we see. We know that we have this moral law inside of us, which would be unobservable from outside us, since we don’t actually obey it. God wants us to obey this invisible moral law, but we can't. Humans have body that is natural, so we will die because nature always runs down. Lewis uses the analogy of an infection to describe what is that happens to us when we find Christ. This infection will kill the old nature, which of course we are apt to not want because it is painful to kill the old creature, but it must occur. " I want YOU! ALL OF YOU! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out!" MC "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!" 2 Cor. 5:17 Lewis sums it up by saying we must give ourselves to God to find ourselves. Until we give ourselves to God, we don't understand or real nature. "Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.” MC Mere Christianity is a great book from a literary genius. It is perhaps a bit intellectual, and those who can't follow Lewis might find it dry. However, in my mind it stands as one of the greats and is a timeless handbook for Christianity. Gene Tomlinson Executive Director Abilene Damascus Road, Inc. “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less."
After the Bible, of course...... 1) Learn what you believe, and a little about what other denominations believe. Get a good systematic theology. I have Wayne Grudem's and I think it's fairly easy to read. But understand that if you're a Methodist or Free Will Baptist, then the doctrine of election may sound very foreign to you. You need to know the points of doctrine on which Christians agree and and where we disagree. 2) Learn a little about heresy & cults: Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin is a classic. This is about some of the larger cults and quasi-Christian groups. 3) Learn a little about Greek and/or Hebrew. There is a new book "It's Not Greek to Me" by Todd Friel, and a similar book, "Foundational Greek" by William Mounce (and also his basic Greek text). His site is called www.teknia.com and you can get some free Greek information there. I haven't read this books, but I do have Mounce's basic Greek textbook and actually learned a little Greek from it. 4) Learn a little about the history of the Christian Church and the history of the Bible. We're FAR too ignorant of church history. Nothing is more cringe-worthy than hearing someone say "If this translation of the Bible was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me!" There are a number of Church history books. Todd Friel also has an audio program called "Drive By Church History" - I haven't listened to the whole thing myself, but I have several different "History of the Church" texts. There are some others, but these are the basics. I also love "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23," and, for women, "Stepping Heavenward." You might also want to read the classic "In His Steps" where the phrase "What Would Jesus Do" came from, although some Christians see this work as a little works-oriented. Christian biographies/autobiographies, such as Corrie Ten Boom's "The Hiding Place" and some of the stories of early missionaries are good. It's always helpful to read the classic sermons of some of the great pastors. I have read a good many of C.S. Lewis' works, although some feel (probably rightly) that he had Catholic leanings, and some of the material in his works has to be understood in that light. I don't often read "light" devotional books, although it's a matter of limited time. Some of these may be quite good, however, but know your doctrine. Sometimes devotional books take verses completely out of context and are mostly fluff and feel-good rather than meat. The same is true of many feel-good emergent/seeker friendly/prosperity gospel "pop-theology" books- KNOW THE THEOLOGY OF THE AUTHOR and avoid questionable teachers/authors like the plague. Just because something is in a Christian bookstore doesn't mean that it's orthodox. If a book is endorsed by Oprah, you probably need to be suspicious of it. Sorry. I'd consider most "Christian romances" and Biblical novels as recreational reading. Sometimes you have to really know your theology to separate the wheat from the tares in some of these. I will say that the half-dozen Grace Livingston Hill's novels that I've read often have a strong call to salvation; many young people wouldn't understand the early 20th century context of these, however. One more note: some of the 19th Century Christian children's books are often VERY moralistic and pious...as well as being free on the internet. Be aware, however, that many of them teach sabbatarianism (that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath and should be strictly and VERY soberly observed) and other teachings that would be considered legalistic by many Christians today. The Elsie series of books, with its legalism and emotional abuse, presented a LOT of trouble for me, and I did not recommend them to my daughter. We read a lot of the Mennonite/Amish children's storybooks from Milestone Ministries/Rod & Staff for character, with me weeding out or explaining differences in doctrine. I hope this helps!
One great book I have read recently is The Pilgrims Progress. It is a great read and a great wake up call to Christians.It has been one of the most popular books in christian literature for probably over three hundred years. It was written in the sixteen hundreds though so you might have to get a version that uses modern English. If you can understand the old English I would go with the original one by John Bunyan. If you can read and understand the KJV Bible than it shouldn't be a problem.
In my opinion the best book on the market today is available at Amazon.com. The book is small so it doesn't take long to read. The title is "The Preacher Has It Wrong." The price is around $5. The book deals with many modern controversial topics It shows how many modern preachers are actually teaching false doctrines. Please at least look at the description on Amazon. The book could possibly help save your soul. May God bless you in your studies.
Heaven by Randy Alcorn – Given the fact that we will spend eternity in heaven, we should know at least something of what it will be like. Randy Alcorn answers many common questions about heaven and paints a biblical picture of what eternity will be like. Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore – Charles Spurgeon was a giant of the Christian faith, and this biography will stir you to love God, pursue God, and trust in God like Spurgeon. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem. Most helpful. If you have questions about demons, the Bible, church government, the Holy Spirit, or just about anything else, you can find the answer here. Knowing God by J.I. Packer – If you want to know what God is like, this is your book. J.I. Packer examines the various attributes of God, suThe Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Written as a conversation between a senior demon and a younger demon, it provides fascinating insights into the ways of Satan. The Complete Collection of E. M. Bounds on Prayer by E.M. Bounds. If you struggle with prayer (and everyone does), this is the book for you. The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life by A.W. Tozer – This little book packs a serious punch. A.W. Tozer explores the different attributes of God and consistently invites the reader to bow down before the greatness of God. Read this book to grow in your awe of the living God.
I have to just say the Bible. I've never been into reading commentaries, although I have before. But if one must read another book, A.W. Tozer is an author worthy of your time in my opinion. Dwight L Moody wrote a book entitled "Secret Power," which is another worthy read. These are authors that write about growth and knowing the Lord. These are not about the "end times" theme which is popular today. The end times theme books I see as variations of Hal Lindsey's "Late, Great Planet Earth," 2nd edition (which I read in 1982). Back then in the book, 1988 was the year suggested that Jesus would return based on his interpretations, which was revised when the year itself came and went. I was caught up to some extent in that whole industry, but I must say deep down I knew the Lord was not showing even then, but I still got caught up in it all anyways. Now I only read the Bible and study history, but if I read a book, it will likely be by A. W. Tozer.
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