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3/11/2016 11:30 am  #1

Popular level books that introduces Christianity

Are there any popular level books that one could recommend people who know little to nothing or have an incorrect prespective on Christianity? 

Last edited by Jason (3/11/2016 2:23 pm)


3/13/2016 2:30 am  #2

Re: Popular level books that introduces Christianity

Try CS Lewis or William Lane Craig


3/13/2016 2:40 am  #3

Re: Popular level books that introduces Christianity

Does Max Lucado's "You are special" count?


3/13/2016 3:52 am  #4

Re: Popular level books that introduces Christianity

Jason wrote:

Are there any popular level books that one could recommend people who know little to nothing or have an incorrect prespective on Christianity? 

"Incorrect perspective" can mean too many things. I would say that it's an incorrect perspective to consider polemics against or refutations of incorrect perspectives as something suitable for popular level.

A positive case is the best case. Popular level Christian material that lays out a positive case with minimal polemics is for example catechisms and Sunday school textbooks. They don't tell you (much) about classical  theism, but they are suitable when you are really unfamiliar with Christianity. I would also recommend an overview of philosophy of religion or comparative religious studies.


3/13/2016 4:06 am  #5

Re: Popular level books that introduces Christianity

As an obvious start, the Gospels should be read by anyone hoping to understand Christianity.

 C. S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" is a classic, though it is a little dated in places - mostly, it still holds up, as do his other writings. His fictional works can also make for good reflections on Christian belief - "The Great Divorce" and "The Screwtape Letters" are my favourites. A modern equivalent might be Peter Kreeft, who has written a lot of popular level books explaining Christianity to a modern sceptical audience (e.g. The Philosophy of Jesus, Jesus Shock, Christianity for Modern Pagans).

Robert Barron's "Catholicism" is another good introduction to Christian belief in general, along with specifically Catholic beliefs and practices. It is a bit more dense than anything by Lewis or Kreeft, but it is worth reading. It is based on a documentary series which is quite expensive, so I would recommend the book (though the series is superior - Fr. Barron is a good writer, but a better speaker).

I am in two minds about William Lane Craig - he is not a classical theist, and in my opinion he has a faulty view of the gospel, which tends to come across quite strongly - but he is an excellent scholar, so I would still happily recommend a book like "The Son Rises" for someone who believes in God but does not think there is any reason to believe in Jesus' resurrection (for the same sort of person, I would recommend Brant Pitre's  "The Case for Jesus"). However, these are (in my opinion) not as good introductions to Christianity as almost anything by Lewis or Kreeft.

Frank Sheed's "Theology for Beginners" is a good, popular level introduction to Catholic theology, drawing from the Gospels, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas. His "To Know Christ Jesus" is also very good, as a thoughtful ramble through the Gospels. Both of these are aimed at believing Catholics who want to better understand their faith, so they may not be what you are looking for, but I think they would work well enough for anyone willing to overlook the occasional "we" as a shorthand for "Catholics". Apparently, his book "A Map of Life" is directed at people who are not Christians (though I haven't read it personally).


3/13/2016 7:19 am  #6

Re: Popular level books that introduces Christianity

I recently read "The Case For Jesus" by Brant Pitre and i thought it was decent as a book for laypeople. Though, it doesn't offer new or groundbreaking evidence for the case of Jesus' divinity. He relies on the usual allusions and riddles hypothesis to establish Jesus' divinity in the Gospels. I also didn't like his appeals to scholars to interpret Jesus being seated as the right hand of power to God as a statement of co-equality. Since the quoted scholars he used such as Joel Marcus would disagree with that claim since the latter spoke of co-regency, rather than equality. 


3/13/2016 9:01 am  #7

Re: Popular level books that introduces Christianity

Taken as a groundbreaking work of scholarship, Pitre's book would be disappointing. But it isn't intended as such - it's a popular level, generally accurate book intended to expose the layperson to the evidence for the central historical claims of Christianity.
As for the co-regency/co-equality thing you mention:
(1) It's popular level, and no one at the popular level will care about the difference. Perhaps that's a shame, but it's sometimes better to sacrifice precision at the altar of accessibility. This happens in pop-science books all the time, and doesn't significantly detract from their value as popular books.
(2) Many theists would see co-regency as requiring co-equality, if the "co-" part is to mean anything at all. If Jesus were a creature, any regency he had would be entirely derived from that of the Creator, and in no way "co-"regency. So I wouldn't see the issue as particularly important anyway, though it would certainly require a more precise coverage in an academic textbook.


3/13/2016 9:27 am  #8

Re: Popular level books that introduces Christianity

That's fair, of course. Although Joel Marcus (the quoted scholar) also proclaimed 'near equal' in addition to 'co-regency'. I have read that Pitre is also planning on writing an academic book that deals with the same topic, so i guess that he will address some of the points that might have been raised against his work. 

Last edited by 884heid (3/13/2016 9:27 am)


3/13/2016 10:10 pm  #9

Re: Popular level books that introduces Christianity

Craig sets of my "awful Protestant youth minister" alarms, but he's a good scholar. I like Kreeft's works also.

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3/14/2016 8:49 am  #10

Re: Popular level books that introduces Christianity

Thank you guys for your replies, I appreciate it. CS Lewis and Peter Kreeft are definitely on the top of my list. I will look at the books from Robert Barron, Frank Sheed, Brant Pitre and Max Lucado as I have not read them.  My own journey was started by actually reading the Gospels themselves for sure with a lot of help from various writers including William Lang Craig. Thank you once again for all your replies.

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