|John Calvin in his study|
I used to trust people who said to me: "Oh, that movie/book is fine -- there's nothing objectionable in it at all." To my dismay, this was often not the case. I have come to realize that, even for Christians, the bars are set in different places for what is allowable and what is objectionable. This moves me to apologize if I have listed a book with which you would disagree in either content or perspective. Please, allow your own discernment to hold sway. As my Granny would say, "Use your sanctified gumption!"
We are each responsible before God to make intelligent, discerning decisions in all areas of life. I, as well as many of these authors, are still "sinners, saved by grace," struggling against our own ingrained sinful attitudes and perspectives; and, even with my best efforts, I will sometimes err on one side or the other -- either omitting something flawed that is otherwise worthy or including something that falls beneath the biblical standard: "Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and of good repute. If there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." Phil. 4:8 ASV, paraphrased
Some of you may wonder why I haven't included books by C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Their writings had a profound influence for good on me as a young reader. I took a mini-semester course called "The Inklings" in college in which we examined the writings of Lewis, Tolkien and Williams, the prominent members of this literary society of friends. I am very aware that many of my readers have problems with reading about wizards, witches and magic which dominate much of the writings of these incredibly gifted authors. Does that mean that I won't read some of their writings? No, I have read and enjoyed many of their books (not all are my favorites but were enjoyable when I read them). I believe I understand their philosophies, having studied their lives and what influenced them and why they wrote as they did. I don't share many of the ideas which they embraced nor would I include the occult in my writing; but I don't believe I am sinning when I read their writings with a critical attitude. I know that sifting what they wrote through the grid of biblical analysis as I read is necessary as I seek the honor the Lord in this area. However, I would not recommend these or any book of this genre to immature readers who have yet to develop the 'grid' necessary to sufficiently discern good from evil.
Although the biblical standards are clear, in my opinion, these decisions fall in the area of 'Christian liberty' where we must each be responsible before God and apply wisdom. No matter what you are reading -- whether Lewis, Calvin or Morecraft -- you are responsible as a Christian reader to 'rightly divide the word of truth.' You must always wear the 'spectacles' of Biblical discernment. You are responsible, before God, for everything you do -- every minute of time, every thought, every 'idle' word. I believe it is entirely possible to read an imperfect book or story and separate the wheat from the chaff. The problem with doing this, however, especially for the young or immature reader, is that the written word can be even more seductive than the silver screen. Let the reader beware!
My 'disclaimer' stretches in both directions. I apologize ahead of time for leaving out some of your favorites as well as including some you may not prefer -- let me know what they are and why you like or dislike them. Please don't include the following in your 'like' list:
*soupy romances that claim to be 'Christian'
*poorly-written books, stories or any sloppily-written work that claims to be 'Christian'
*books full of images or language that portrays sin as 'fun' or glorifies evil
*articles, essays, stories or other writings that are inaccurate in their depictions of real-life characters or events, when real history is involved.
I realize some books I recommend, including my 'list-maker books,' may not match up to your personal criteria. I hope we can meet on 'middle ground' here and decide for ourselves whether we will read these books. I have attempted to list books that have a basic Christian principle behind or underlying them -- whether the writer was a proponent of Christianity or not -- and that are well-written, to one extent or another. Thank you for understanding my dilemma. As with all things in this fallen world, there are no perfect books since all are written by sinful men and women. I hope you will develop a Christian 'grid' that is based on 'thus saith the Lord' through which you sift and sort all that you read and write.
With these thoughts in mind, here is my 'cautious' short list of recommended books for older young people and adults (I hope to expand this as time permits):
Authentic Christianity: Commentaries on the Westminster Larger Catechism, and other titles by Joseph C. Morecraft, III (did you think I wouldn't recommend my husband's greatest works?) These five commentaries are available both from Amercian Vision or Vision Forum. (same price) They are the product of over 20 years of work as he preached through the WCF Larger Catechism. Very practical and scholarly at once, they are useful for a thorough understanding of Scripture as only this catechism gives us. President of American Vision, Gary DeMar says either spend thousands of dollars and many years getting a seminary education or purchase these five volumes and learn as much or more! What a deal!!
Order from American Vision here: http://www.americanvision.com/products/Authentic-Christianity-Series%3A-An-Exposition-of-the-Theology-and-Ethics-of-the-Westminster-Larger-Catechism.html
or order from Vision Forum:
The Institutes of the Christian Religion, and other titles by John Calvin
The Institutes of Biblical Law, and other titles by R. J. Rushdoony, perhaps the most important theologian of our times.
or order from Vision Forum here:
The Sovereignty of God, by A. W. Pink. "Who is regulating affairs on this earth today -- God or the devil?" from the introduction.
By This Standard, by Greg Bahnsen. Does God's law apply today?
Knowing God, by J. I. Packer
The History of the Reformation, and other titles by Merle D'Aubigne such as,
The Protector: A Vindication.
The Great Christian Revolution, and other titles by Otto Scott.
How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill. (A book about Iona)
For You They Signed, by Marilyn Boyer, the stories of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Providential Battles, by Christian historian, William Potter. Twenty of the greatest battles in the world that altered history.
Classics and just for fun: Tune in next week!!!