I always wondered how successful people find the information they receive to do the things that make them successful. Through doing research on how people become successful, the common denominator was reading multiple books constantly! Seems simple and a tad overrated, right? Not quite! Reading is something that we take for granted because we can probably watch a 15-minute ted talk on the subject or try to read an article/blog on how to accomplish a certain goal. However, a book gives you the opportunity to delve into a subject and it has time to plant seeds that will be watered over the course of your life. Books breed longevity and multiple lessons instead of a simple crash course on the subject you probably won’t remember an hour later.
In 2017, I’ve read (for the first time) about 8 books. It may not seem like a lot to some, but hey I had to start somewhere! I had to give much of the reading credit to Houston Baptist University where I’m pursuing my Master’s degree in Christian Leadership. There is no way I could receive all of the knowledge about Christianity, other world religions and understanding the essence of God without reading as much content as I did. The proof of how much I grew in knowledge came when my Fiancé and I were invited to attend a Muslim banquet and nothing that occurred at the banquet surprised me or made me feel uncomfortable. I understood the culture and religion of Islam because of how much I had read and studied prior to the invitation. Reading allowed me to respond appropriately to the environment we were in and also interact with Muslims graciously.
While I’ve been in school, I’ve been constantly asked to share my reading list. I thought sharing this reading list at the beginning of 2018 would encourage you to read and delve into learning like never before. This reading list is great for believers looking for a way to understand Christianity and explore what they truly believe. This list is made up of books about Christianity, Christian practices, the study of world religions. If that’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn about, I definitely suggest you order these books and read one each month. Due to my school schedule the first five books I had to read within four and a half months, so I know getting through the content of these books while working full time can be accomplished! I also listed the books in the order I think would make the most sense to be read. (If this subject doesn't interest you much, I would suggest creating your own reading list and challenging yourself to read 4 books this year!)
The Bible Tells Me So… By: Peter Enns: This book threw me ALL THE WAY off in the first few chapters because it debunked the foundation of my beliefs. Christians have myths in their minds about how the bible should be approached and how we should approach God. This book will help you open your mind to how big God is, and you’ll discover it can’t fit into the method in which we practice religion. This book will teach you to take God’s word AS IS without mixing it with our emotions/cognition. Be aware, this book is VERY offensive, but for the sake of the class I continued to read it and became very satisfied upon its completion. Definitely pray before you read this book and have open dialogue with curious people about what you’re reading. It could make you lose some narrow-mind friends because your mind is flowing with a fresh perspective of the bible. Great read! I would suggest it to anyone that’s ready to see Christianity through new lenses.
From Paradise to the Promised Land By: T. Desmond Alexander: This book helps the reader understand how the Pentateuch was composed (first 5 books of the bible) in depth.
The Old Testament By: Michael Coogan: Simple book that differentiates the Old Testament the Jewish live by and the interpretation of the OT of Christians. Coogan gives historical knowledge and context for those reading to comprehend the OT setting. Coogan also helps readers understand more about Israel, judgement and OT Prophets.
The New Testament By: Luke Timothy Johnson: Simple book on how the gospels and the Apostles wrote the NT. Personally, this book provided GREAT detail on how I view Christianity today and changed my understanding of the writings of the NT. Honestly, this one is one of the most important books to read if you are a Christian because without understand the NT, you won’t fully grasp who Jesus is, what he has down and how Christians are to carry out his mission. Highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about the NT!
The Mosaic of Christian Belief (Second Edition) Roger E. Olson: If you ask most Christians what they believe and what did the founding fathers of Christianity believe, they may not be able to give you a consistent answer to what another Christian may respond. This book helps to bridge the gap between what many denominations believe and how we are diverse/unified. When we hear the word diversity, we may immediately think division within religion. Understanding how the diversity of Christianity can help the reader clearly identify what they believe and why they believe it. While reading this book you’ll need to take plenty of notes and use a dictionary. I suggest reading this book a few times to grasp everything it has to offer.
God Is Not One By: Stephen Prothero: If you want to learn more about different religions in plain English this book as it is the perfect introduction to that! It gives you enough information where you can understand the basics and also be able to interact with a person whom belongs in that religion. It’s the perfect overlap to Christianity at the Religious Roundtable. I recommend reading them both at the same time.
Christianity at the Religious Roundtable By: Timothy C. Tennent: If you were ever seeking to ear-hustle a conversation between a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim, this would be the book to read! This book gives context on each religion and then the dialogue begins on foundational topics of each religious practice begins after laying a simple foundation on the religion. Very cool to read!
The Koran: I like to describe the Koran as the bible of Islam. It’s the Holy text revealed to the Prophet, Muhammad, by Gabriel from God (Allah) as instructions on how to live an acceptable life. Anyone interested in reading the Koran, I would suggest reading commentaries to understand in depth this text. Similar to the Christian Bible, it may be difficult to understand if you don’t have commentaries to break down the meaning as you’re reading. This gave me an in depth of understanding of what Muslims believe. I would also suggest visiting an Islamic Mosque to ask questions about interpretation. When I went the mosque, the rabbis were very kind and gracious in helping me understand more about the Koran. (SN: Muslims believe in Jesus, so ask them about Islam in relationship to Christianity, which may give you a better frame of reference while reading the Koran).
Fervent: A Woman's Battle Plan to Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer By: Priscilla Shirer: If you want to learn more about the power of prayers and how to target your prayers, this book will completely changed how and what you pray!
If you have any questions, or would like to dialogue about the books, please come back to this post and comment. Let’s chat!
Love you guys,
Links to Books:
The Bible Tells Me So… By: Peter Enns https://www.amazon.com/Bible-Tells-Me-Defending-Scripture/dp/0062272039/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514867805&sr=1-1&keywords=the+bible+tells+me+so+by+peter+enns
The Mosaic of Christian Belief (Second Edition) Roger E. Olson: https://www.amazon.com/Mosaic-Christian-Belief-Centuries-Diversity/dp/0830851259/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514915181&sr=1-1&keywords=the+mosaic+of+christian+belief+twenty+centuries+of+unity+%26+diversity
From Paradise to the Promised Land: https://www.amazon.com/Paradise-Promised-Land-Introduction-Pentateuch-ebook/dp/B0080K3M0M/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=
The Old Testament By: Michael Coogan: https://www.amazon.com/Old-Testament-Short-Introduction-Introductions-ebook/dp/B0055NCTYC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1514922213&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Old+Testament-Michael+Coogan
The New Testament By: Luke Timothy Johnson: https://www.amazon.com/New-Testament-Short-Introduction-Introductions-ebook/dp/B0035FP7T6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1514922570&sr=1-1&keywords=The+New+Testament+By%3A+Luke+Timothy+Johnson
Christianity at the Religious Roundtable By: Timothy C. Tennent: https://www.amazon.com/Christianity-Religious-Roundtable-Evangelicalism-Conversation-ebook/dp/B001OMGA7U/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1514922961&sr=1-1&keywords=Christianity+at+the+Religious+Roundtable
God Is Not One By: Stephen Prothero: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=God+Is+Not+One
Fervent: A Woman's Battle Plan to Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer: https://www.amazon.com/Fervent-Womans-Serious-Specific-Strategic/dp/1433688670/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514920620&sr=8-1&keywords=fervent+priscilla+shirer