When I was in college I took a course in religion that changed my life. It was an introductory survey of some of the most heralded Christian theologians both ancient and modern: Augustine, Aquinas and Luther on to Buber (actually Jewish), Barth and Tillich.
Not your everyday household names, but people whose thoughts about faith and belief were to me less about argumentative treatises and more about beauty, poetry, honesty and the courage to simply just “be” in the presence of God.
My professor, Bill Thomas, purchased copies of a volume of Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics out of his own pocket and distributed them free of charge to his class of students, who were puzzled by his unique generosity. I knew there was something special there and I was hooked.
Yet my life headed out in many different directions after that course, and I didn’t keep up as much with those specific thinkers. Still, most of these extraordinary books have stuck with me after all these years, both in spirit and in print. When Dr. Thomas said, “The more you invest in these books, the more they will pay off,” he was right.
Now I’m excited to recommend something that can help just about anyone make their way into some of the most important books to read in conjunction with the Bible. 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Spiritual Classics offers work that shapes our faith, including Reflections of Divine Love (Showings) by Julian of Norwich, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis, Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Each chapter highlights one book, offering historical background, an explanation of the book’s significance, and a brief reading to get you started.
I would encourage you to get a copy, sample a few of these writings, go find one of them as a whole, and dig in. Happy reading.