The holidays are definitely upon us! For many of us that means spending time with family and friends, eating well and spending time reflecting on our Lord and His birth. This also means that many of us are on break from school or work, and that gives us some extra free time to read and grow. I compiled a short list of six books that I think are must reads this holiday season and that are going to, or already are, part of how I spend time growing in my discipleship with a little extra time off from work. I have the luxury of being able to read them all, but even if you only have time to read one or two them, you will be all the more equipped!
These books are not necessarily Christmas related per se, nor are they in any order of any kind, other than they reflect my current range of study material until after the first of the year. These books run the range of topics as well, from the resurrection of Jesus, church history, intelligent design, etc. and give one a broad range of material to learn from and help further develop a Christian worldview. They are definitely worth putting the time into. They range from easy to very difficult and I will note that as I share info about each book below. I pray this list will help you if you are on the fence on what to read or not read while on holiday break as they are already helping me.
1. God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism by William Lane Craig
This is one of the two main event books I have been waiting for this holiday season. This book will not release until December 30th, so I will have to wait until the New Year to read it. This is Dr. Craig’s shorter, more accessible[ref]although still very difficult, only considered more accessible compared to his full academic work on the project that is over 400 pages long, but which doesn’t have a release date yet![/ref] work on the issue of God and his relation to abstract objects. This topic, while not that interesting to many, is very important it seems to me. The issue of Platonism (the existence of abstract objects) poses a challenge to God’s aseity and needs to be dealt with responsibly. For a better grasp of why this topic is important and to get a brief introduction to what is at stake and what all is involved, see Dr. Craig’s essay in “Beyond the Control of God?: Six Views on The Problem of God and Abstract Objects (Bloomsbury Studies in Philosophy of Religion).” This book has me ready to dive in as soon as it arrives!
2. Why Are There Differences in the Gospels?: What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography by Michael R. Licona
This book released on December 1st, and I am only in the third chapter as of my writing this post due to an ordering mix up and my being sick the week it arrived. It is finally here and I think Dr. Licona’s research here is very valuable. He has combed through ancient Greco-Roman biographies before, during and after the time of Christ. He has found patterns of literary devices that ancient biographers used (he uses Plutarch’s Lives in particular) in writing their works. The Gospels have these same patterns and literary devices and it accounts for many of the differences we find in the Gospel records. The book, thus far, is accessible to anyone who really wants to learn more about how to explain many, although not all, of the differences we find in the Gospel records. Highly recommended!
3. The Son Rises: The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus by William Lane Craig
I have read this book before and I think it is highly under appreciated. I am currently just reviewing sections of it. This is Dr. Craig’s introductory and accessible book on the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. The book is laid out in a logical and easy to follow format, which makes it a joy to read. If you want to study on the central event on which Christian truth hinges and don’t know where to start, get this book! There are many good books on the resurrection of Jesus that I would recommend, but this one to me is the best overall for those new to the topic, or those who have studied the advanced works but want to be able to communicate it in a concise way. Definitely a must read!
4. The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design by William A. Dembski
I am almost halfway through this one and Dembski does a masterful job dealing with the top objections/criticisms and/or questions regarding intelligent design. I have found this volume very helpful in that it answers in a concise way (each chapter is a few pages long or so and addresses a certain criticism or answers a question) nearly every objection to intelligent design. The format is fantastic because the chapters are very short and are easily digested one at a time when you have a free moment here or there. This to me seems to be the best book for starting to try and understand intelligent design as well as learning the most common objections to it. Great read, accessible to everyone interested!
5. Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul by J. P. Moreland
This book is a Christian classic, and should be read by everyone who wants to take their discipleship seriously. Dr. Moreland covers much ground in this easy to read and follow text. He divides the book into four parts, each of which contain chapters related to the title of that section.
- Why the mind matters in Christianity
- How to develop a mature Christian mind
- What a mature Christian mind looks like
- Guaranteeing a future for the Christian mind
Certainly cannot recommend this classic work any more. This is simply a must read. I have the revised and expanded version from 2012. This is a book that any Christian, especially a new one, or at least one new to discipleship and apologetics, really needs to read and take to heart.
6. Anglicanism: A Very Short Introduction by Mark Chapman
For the last several months I have been intrigued by the history of the Church of England, or the Anglican Church. I have accumulated many books to aid my studies. I really have enjoyed reading about the history of the English Church and for those of you looking to find an area of church history to study and grow in this one has kept me wanting more. Even if you aren’t Anglican, etc. it is very important for us to learn church history (an area I am admittedly weak in). This book is only 157 pages long and can be read through quickly. It gives a history of the church all the way up to now and deals with some contemporary issues. I have just started it and have not finished it due to my other reading above. So far it is excellent for anyone wanting to learn more about the Anglican Church but not wanting to get bogged down with entire books on the subject (even though I have been reading those as well) and just want a quick, easy to understand run down.
“Wrapping It Up (pun intended)”
The resources I have listed here are all fairly easy to read through at a decent pace even for the uninitiated in apologetics, with the exception of God Over All, and if you don’t work at learning the terminology then Why Are There Differences In the Gospels? may have a few difficult places as well. The most technical is of course William Lane Craig’s God over All, and the most practical is J.P. Moreland’s Love Your God with All Your Mind. Great material though, and again, a broad array of topics to help one further develop a Christian worldview. I pray this list has piqued your interest and will help you grow in your discipleship this holiday season, and Merry Christmas from Faithful Apologetics!