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25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Spiritual Classics

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From the creators of Devotional Classics and Spiritual Classics comes 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, the definitive guide to the most spiritually influential and important books for Christians to read. Renovaré, a community of Christians promoting personal and spiritual renewal, put together a prestigious editorial board including Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Phy From the creators of Devotional Classics and Spiritual Classics comes 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, the definitive guide to the most spiritually influential and important books for Christians to read. Renovaré, a community of Christians promoting personal and spiritual renewal, put together a prestigious editorial board including Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Phyllis Tickle, and Richard Rohr, resulting in this wonderful resource for exploring the richness of the Christian tradition.


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From the creators of Devotional Classics and Spiritual Classics comes 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, the definitive guide to the most spiritually influential and important books for Christians to read. Renovaré, a community of Christians promoting personal and spiritual renewal, put together a prestigious editorial board including Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Phy From the creators of Devotional Classics and Spiritual Classics comes 25 Books Every Christian Should Read, the definitive guide to the most spiritually influential and important books for Christians to read. Renovaré, a community of Christians promoting personal and spiritual renewal, put together a prestigious editorial board including Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Phyllis Tickle, and Richard Rohr, resulting in this wonderful resource for exploring the richness of the Christian tradition.

30 review for 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Spiritual Classics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ruthmgon

    This is a great reference. This is set up so that you can read the excerpts of each book and engage with the questions in each chapter. This would be great for a book group. The introduction lets you know what the editors process was for selection and how they recommend going forward. These are pretty heavy literature, but I had at least heard of almost 1/4 of these, and I had already read two of them! (If you can count listening to Michael York read this on books on tape...which was really funn This is a great reference. This is set up so that you can read the excerpts of each book and engage with the questions in each chapter. This would be great for a book group. The introduction lets you know what the editors process was for selection and how they recommend going forward. These are pretty heavy literature, but I had at least heard of almost 1/4 of these, and I had already read two of them! (If you can count listening to Michael York read this on books on tape...which was really funny for me because I kept picturing Logan's Run on occasion as these serious topics were discussed. For me, I heard some excerpts of St Augustine's "Confessions" and it was so interesting, I went right out to the Public Library and picked it up. Part philosophy, part diary, 100 percent personal (and I don't often say this..pure gold) Here is the list: 1) On the Incarnation St Athanasius 2) Confessions St. Augustine 3) The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (various authors) 4) The Rule of St. Benedict ---St Benedict 5) The Divine Comedy --Dante Alighieri 6) The Cloud of Unknowing--(anonymous author) 7) Revelations of Divine Love --Julian of Norwich 8) The Imitation of Christ--Thomas a Kempis 9) The Philokalia (Various authors) 10) Institutes of the Christian Religion--John Calvin 11) The Interior Castle--St. Theresa of Avila 12) Dark Night of the Soul--St. John of the Cross 13) Pensees --Blaise Pascal 14) The Pilgrim's Progress --John Bunyan 15) The Practice of the Presence of God --Brother Lawrence 16) A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life-- William Law 17) The Way of a Pilgrim (unknown author) 18) The Brothers Karamazov --Fyodor Dostoevsky 19) Orthodoxy --G.K. Chesterton 20) The Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins 21) The Cost of Discipleship--Dietrich Bonhoeffer 22) A Testament of Devotion -- Thomas R. Kelly 23) The Seven Storey Mountain --Thomas Merton 24) Mere Christianity--C.S. Lewis 25) The Return of the Prodigal Son-- Henri J. M Nouwen

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This is an excellent resource. A Board led by Richard Foster worked together to identify these 25 books and then compiled a book about the books. Each chapter focuses on a different book from the list, and they are compiled chronologically. Each chapter consists of a description of the book, an explanation of why if made the list, an explanation of how to read the book, excerpts from the book, and study questions for the book. In between each chapter is a personal top 5 list from a board member This is an excellent resource. A Board led by Richard Foster worked together to identify these 25 books and then compiled a book about the books. Each chapter focuses on a different book from the list, and they are compiled chronologically. Each chapter consists of a description of the book, an explanation of why if made the list, an explanation of how to read the book, excerpts from the book, and study questions for the book. In between each chapter is a personal top 5 list from a board member or another stud or studette. I read everything except for the excerpts, because I plan to read all of the books on the list that I haven't read yet (I've read 9, I'm currently reading a 10th, and the only one I've already decided to omit is Calvin's Institutes. I'm just not that much of a theology hog.) The books range from spiritual biography, contemplative prayer how-to's, and theology to classic lit (Brothers Karamazov & Divine Comedy) and poetry. No books from living authors were selected, but there is a list of nine contemporary authors and some of their works that they recommend. I was surprised by how many books on the list were not familiar to me. Most of them were earlier works by mystics, but there were a few newer works as well. There were also a few books that I was surprised to find absent from the list, like Tozer's Pursuit of God, Scougal's Life of God in the Soul of Man, and the Diary of David Brainerd. Now I've got to wrap this up because I have 15 more books to read...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    An interesting look at what some scholars think are important Christian works--the usual suspects are there, i.e. C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine, "The Pilgrim's Progress," St. Benedict, and Merton. I was pleasantly surprised to see Dante and Dostoevsky on the list, too, and there's a good mix of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox titles. I was also intrigued to see each contributing editor's personal "top 5" list, as there were some unexpected titles and authors mentioned--Madeleine L'Engle, Stein An interesting look at what some scholars think are important Christian works--the usual suspects are there, i.e. C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine, "The Pilgrim's Progress," St. Benedict, and Merton. I was pleasantly surprised to see Dante and Dostoevsky on the list, too, and there's a good mix of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox titles. I was also intrigued to see each contributing editor's personal "top 5" list, as there were some unexpected titles and authors mentioned--Madeleine L'Engle, Steinbeck, Tolkien, Plato, and Flannery O'Conner, who are not usually associated with Christian writing and literature. I mostly picked up this book to see what the 25 books were, and to see how many I'd read (or even heard of...). I can honestly say I've read part of 2 (Confessions and The Divine Comedy) and all of a third (Mere Christianity). This certainly isn't what I'd consider my top 25 list to be, but this book does a good job serving as a primer to these texts, by giving an overview of the text, providing an excerpt, justifying its presence in the compilation, and giving study questions, and for someone like me, I need a basic, simplified look at these titles. Some I am interested in reading more, so I suppose this book was successful in piquing my interest.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    To be fair, I think I would probably be critical of any list that supposedly represents the top twenty-five "essential" reads. If the list had 50 or 100 books, I'd probably still feel good cause to complain. Partly, I think that is just the nature of list-making. I'm not sure how balanced this list is--I feel many titles are too ancient. And so very many of them are from a monastic point of view. And the editors definitely favored mysticism over theology. And "devotional" over doctrinal. For the To be fair, I think I would probably be critical of any list that supposedly represents the top twenty-five "essential" reads. If the list had 50 or 100 books, I'd probably still feel good cause to complain. Partly, I think that is just the nature of list-making. I'm not sure how balanced this list is--I feel many titles are too ancient. And so very many of them are from a monastic point of view. And the editors definitely favored mysticism over theology. And "devotional" over doctrinal. For the most part. Perhaps with the exception of John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. Which may sound okay in theory, but essentially how many of these are clear enough, relevant enough, and focused on the gospel and the heart of the gospel, Jesus Christ? I think there were some biggies left off the list, theologians (preachers, teachers, writers) who should have been included but weren't.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathie

    This had some very interesting insights. Everyone is going to have an opinion of what should make the list and what shouldn't, but don't let that stop you from looking into this book and gleaning from it the most that you can. Each writer involved has given his/her insights, and several more besides have given their top 5 (or so) books that they recommend. So if you don't see what you think you should, keep reading. It may just surprise you to read what others have said.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I ended up skimming most of the book to only read the chapters regarding books I have read or plan to read in the future. There are a lot of classics (i.e., hard reads) covered here, but you could almost consider this a "cliff's notes" or a "cocktail party statement" coverage of each one, if you don't ever intend to read them.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Sibley

    A wonderful book that serves as a foundation and easily understood introduction to basic philosophical bases of Christianity.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    When I first saw the title for this book, my thought was, “25 Books every Christian should read? Says who?” So, I investigated a bit and found out that Renovarè is an international ecumenical organization that seeks harmony among various Christian groups and a renovation of Christianity that involves a support of somewhat radical thinking on social justice and also has a strongly Catholic or Orthodox tendency towards supporting the monastic and contemplative life. Thus warned, I looked at this b When I first saw the title for this book, my thought was, “25 Books every Christian should read? Says who?” So, I investigated a bit and found out that Renovarè is an international ecumenical organization that seeks harmony among various Christian groups and a renovation of Christianity that involves a support of somewhat radical thinking on social justice and also has a strongly Catholic or Orthodox tendency towards supporting the monastic and contemplative life. Thus warned, I looked at this book as an attempt by people who consider themselves authorities on how Christians should behave to push a certain social agenda. Unsurprisingly, that is precisely what I found, and not only that, the editors of this work were entirely open about their approbation of certain radical tendencies to be found in the books within, and were candid about their lack of interest in a biblical theology and in their corresponding fascination with supporting an ascetic and rigorous form of Hellenistic Christianity like that of the desert fathers (whose reflections are one of the twenty-five books recommended here). It bears some emphasis that the Bible is not one of the twenty-five books included in this survey, which is not surprising when one considers how much of the thought endorsed here is contrary to scripture, and which bears a strong resemblance to what Paul spoke of when he condemned various heresies among the Colossians by saying in Colossians 2:23: “These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” The contents of this book are fairly straightforward. The book consists of about 370 or so pages of core material. Most of this consists of 25 books, organized in chronological order, that the editors view as essential reading for Christians [1]. Within each selection there is a consistent pattern of material as well. First there is a quote, in italics, from the material selected, along with a spotlight on a reason why the book was written and what makes it important, followed by a biography of the writer, where known, and a summary of the book chosen and its particular context. There is then a justification on why the work is essential, some advice on how to read the book, an excerpt from the work that is broken by a personal top 5 from someone who claims to have some kind of authority to give on the matter, and then a study guide with a few questions for someone who reads that particular book. After the twenty-five selections, all of which show this same internal organization, there is a listing of contemporary writers along with some selected works by then that also support various views of social justice and “discipline” that are endorsed by the book’s editors, none of whom have written any works that have reached my own attention. This book is full of a certain amount of arrogance that presumes that these people are in a state to give advice and counsel on how other Christians should live and behave, which is unwarranted by their love of heathen traditions, and their ungodly adoption of radicalism. The supposedly essential books chosen for the list ignore vital aspects of doctrine. For example, while many of the books endorse asceticism and celibate monasticism, practices condemned in scripture, none of them discuss a godly view of the Sabbath, and only a few of them discuss the plan of God to turn humanity into members of the God family (notably C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and some of the works from the Eastern Orthodox tradition). On the contrary, many of the works contain dubious reflections on false conceptions of the Nature of God, like the Trinity, or seek to replace the corpus of biblical law with a man-made standard of behavior that emphasizes the importance of spiritual directors who alone are fit to interpret the Bible and these various uninspired texts to lay believers. The resulting collection is so full of error, and a dangerous predilection for the Inner Ring condemned by C.S. Lewis [2] that even the best of the works included below are tainted by association with the editors of this work. The best that can be said about the authors is that they have a love of history that seeks to relate to Christian tradition, and that they are honest and transparent about their radical aims. Little else here is worthy of praise from either God or men. [1] The works chosen by the editors are listed below. Those marked in bold are ones that I have read, and below that are posts about the various books included here, including but not limited to book reviews. Please note that some of the books I have read on this series are from a period before I wrote and posted book reviews online on this blog: On The Incarnation, St. Athanasias Confessions, St. Augustine The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Various The Rule of St. Benedict, St. Benedict The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri The Cloud of Unknowing, anonymous Revelations of Divine Love (Showings), Julian of Norwich The Imitations of Christ, Thomas á Kempis Institutes of Christian Religion, John Calvin The Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross Pensèes, Blaise Pascal The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence A Series Call to a Devout and Holy Life, William Law The Way of a Pilgrim, anonymous The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton The Poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer A Testament of Devotion, Thomas R. Kelly The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri J.M. Nouwen Posts about these books below: https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress... [2] See, for example: https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I came upon this books while looking for the meaning of "Classics". Since I have been a church librarian for more than 50 years, I though I would know which books would be included, and wanted to know how many we owned and how well read they were. This book had many surprises in it. An editor board including Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Phyllis Tickle and Richard Rohr. Each book had a short excerpt and the personal top of the author of the classic and a study guide. It was a total surprise. I I came upon this books while looking for the meaning of "Classics". Since I have been a church librarian for more than 50 years, I though I would know which books would be included, and wanted to know how many we owned and how well read they were. This book had many surprises in it. An editor board including Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Phyllis Tickle and Richard Rohr. Each book had a short excerpt and the personal top of the author of the classic and a study guide. It was a total surprise. I found I was familiar with at less than 5 of the Titles, I considered them all too serious for my consideration. The end of the book listed the Best contemporary authors, these I was more familiar with. Interesting look at classic, enough to tempt me to try a few more.

  10. 4 out of 5

    William Schram

    This book has a provocative title, 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. It draws from several sources and has a massive list that it pared down for convenience's sake. It lists more than 25 books, but that is how many it features. It includes masterpieces like The Brothers Karamazov, which makes it stand out. On the other hand, the lion's share of books are ones with which I am unfamiliar. The book includes a series of questions if you want to have a book club on them. It encourages writing and This book has a provocative title, 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. It draws from several sources and has a massive list that it pared down for convenience's sake. It lists more than 25 books, but that is how many it features. It includes masterpieces like The Brothers Karamazov, which makes it stand out. On the other hand, the lion's share of books are ones with which I am unfamiliar. The book includes a series of questions if you want to have a book club on them. It encourages writing and interacting with the texts at hand. This book did not attempt to convert me, and I appreciate that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    This book provides a solid introduction to each of the books discussed. I had already many of the books selected books so I skipped over these chapters. Even if you haven't ready any of the books; however, I wouldn't recommend reading this book cover-to-cover. I would instead use it as a reference. Additionally, I generally agreed with all the books selected. I could only see myself changing a few.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Sussex

    I don't plan on reading many of these books anytime soon, however it did provide a useful taster for some i do plan to read such as Dantes divine comedy. In my opinion the list was heavily biased towards books written by monks and nuns.

  13. 5 out of 5

    J Layne

    I enjoyed learning about these significant books and reading excerpts from each of them.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shan Walker

    I had to read this book for a book club I belonged to briefly. I am a Theology major, and I do not agree with the list, but that's my opinion.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marie French

    Very well done overview

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stinger

    This is a helpful read, especially for someone (like me) who's only read a handful of the 25 books discussed in its contents. It's one I'd like to own, as it serves as a springboard into reading the classics of Christendom. I really appreciate the work put forth by Renovare in creating it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Danny Yang

    "The results of reading these books may be that (1) your vision of the kingdom of God becomes more and more acute, and it makes you long for the potential of it for yourself and your neighbors, and (2) you become depressed because this vision is so far away from your current reality. Such reactions are inevitable."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    Great book...and a must read to introduce you to true classics of our faith!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    So far, this book is an all-time favorite. I have no doubt that I will read it over and over again!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paul Parkinson

    I'll finish later

  21. 4 out of 5

    April

    A good list. Some I may never get to...others, a big yes, I hope to read them soon!

  22. 5 out of 5

    HANIN PAUL

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Denney

  24. 4 out of 5

    Johnnyclock

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

  26. 5 out of 5

    Docadeyemi

  27. 4 out of 5

    Richard Mollica

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tim Hayes

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Smith

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joyce Carter

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