It’s that time of the year… graduations are rapidly approaching. What do you give to
congratulate the graduate? Here are a few suggestions, if you’re considering a Christian book. I have compiled this list as a combination of books that helped me and books I would have benefited from if I’d had access to them during college.
1. The MacArthur Study Bible (or click here for Kindle version) – the single most helpful study Bible I know. Clear, uncompromising notes on Genesis. Excellent background and analysis of passages; helpful articles about Scripture and doctrine as well. Covenant theologians may disapprove the extent to which MacArthur is dispensational, but even they should find most of the notes to be models of clarity, substance, and edification.
2. Kevin DeYoung, Taking God at His Word (Kindle version here) – a new book, and the best single volume on the Bible that I’ve seen. Clear, engaging, fun to read. Reinvigorates a love for God’s Word and uncompromisingly opposes views that regard the Bible as having error, being unclear, or being insufficient.
3. Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Kindle version here) – helpful guide to the practices that bring us closer to God. The basics of the Christian life are here in a well-written, practical book that should be read and re-read from time to time because it brings us right back to the God of the Bible.
4. John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress (click here for Kindle version – lots of options on this title) – the best work of fiction for spiritual growth. This allegory gives the journey of the Christian life from before conversion to glory, with many warnings of the pitfalls along the way. It’s also a classic of English literature that’s not as well known as it once was.
5. John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory (with The End for Which God Created the World by Jonathan Edwards) (Kindle version here) – This book dispelled a dangerous false notion I once had — that God made us because He was lonely. The book is a bit of a hybrid. Piper distills Edwards in one half; in the other half, Edwards speaks and Piper gives helpful footnotes. Not an easy read, but very worthwhile. The takeaway? You should come away from reading this book convinced, from Scripture, that God made everything for His glory, and He is glorified in us when we delight in Him. (Free PDF at Desiring God website)
6. J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Kindle version here) – The author clearly demonstrates that biblical Christianity and theological liberalism are not two varieties of the same thing; liberalism is naturalism dressed in fake clothing, and is another type of religion altogether.
8. Brian Edwards, Why 27? – One of the most accessible books on the canon of Scripture. Why do we accept the books in the New Testament as from God, and not any others for the New Testament?
9. Alex Chediak, Thriving at College (Kindle version here) – Very practical and readable guide for the college student who doesn’t want to waste his or her college experience. I’m sure I could have learned some of this stuff if I’d paid more attention in our “strategies for success” class my freshman year; but there’s more than basic strategies for navigating academic and social life here – Chediak integrates the spiritual aspect as well.
10. Timothy Paul Jones, Church History Made Easy (Kindle version here) – Jones masterfully boils down church history to the essentials in a readable, engaging format. This will give a great overview of the church throughout her existence, and introduce readers to names, movements, and issues that were key then and that resurface through history and to our own day as well.
I wrote How to Keep the Faith in a Christian College, in part, as a short introduction to books like these. (It is free for Kindle each Sunday in May; for more info about the book, which is also available in paperback, click here.)
Are there any books you would put on a “must-read” list for new, current, or former college students?
Note: Dr. David Murray’s blog gave me the idea for a top ten list of this sort. He’s got more top-ten lists of books on other topics here. And I’ve a feeling he’ll have one for graduates soon. (UPDATE: He posted his list here.)