Have you wanted to give an unbelieving friend a book about the Christian faith, but afraid it might come across in the wrong way? I’ve got some great reads to recommend.
Recently, Christianity Today asked me to recommend five books that would help non-believers better understand, and hopefully embrace, the Christian faith.
This being the season of giving, I’d like to share the list with BreakPoint listeners and ask you to consider giving these books as gifts to the non-believers God has placed in your life. And all of these books are the best kind of apologetics: apologetics that don’t read like apologetics.
The first book is called “The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt” by Joe Loconte. In an earlier BreakPoint, I called this book a “kind of field guide” to the spiritual restlessness that pervades our culture.
As Loconte tells us, notwithstanding the increasing number of people who don’t identify with any religion, our society is filled with what he calls “God Seekers.” These people “don’t always look in the right places, [but] there’s no doubt that they are seeking.”
The next book is “The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming” by my friend Rod Dreher. It’s a powerful and at times overwhelming story about suffering, death, and grace. When Rod and his family decided to return to his hometown after his sister’s death, it wasn’t in response so much as to what people said to comfort the family, but what they did. It’s hard to imagine a more vivid example of the old writer’s adage, “show, don’t tell.” This is what faith-as-lived looks like.
The third book is “Angry Conversations With God,” my friend Susan Isaacs’s “snarky but authentic spiritual memoir.” In this hilarious and searingly honest account, Susan takes God to couple’s counseling.
That may strike you as sacrilegious, but only if you haven’t read the Psalms recently. There’s a long and hallowed tradition of God’s people arguing with Him. Just think of Teresa of Avila, who after she was told that suffering was normal for God’s friends, replied “little wonder, Lord, you have so few of them.”
For the sports fan there’s R.A. Dickey’s “Wherever I Wind Up.” If you think “hardship” and “Cy Young Award winner” don’t go together, this story about Dickey’s “quest for truth, authenticity, and the perfect knuckleball” will disabuse you.
From his difficult childhood to years toiling in the minor leagues, nothing came easy for Dickey, and as he admits, it was often his own fault. This kind of honesty is rare in memoirs, and it’s even rarer in most Christian ones.
Finally, there’s “The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions” by David Berlinski. In Christianity Today, I called Berlinski a “polymathic virtuoso with X-acto mind and prose.” And in this book, he employs those gift and talents in a brilliant takedown of the “new atheists.”
The late William F. Buckley called “The Devil’s Delusion” an “incendiary and uproarious work of learned polemical writing, unique in its scientific sophistication and authority.” I call it a “must” for the person in your life who insists that “science” has rendered belief in the biblical God “obsolete.”
Actually, all of these books are “musts.” They don’t preach. They show what a Christian life looks like, warts and all. They dispel misconceptions about the faith and make the case for the faith in ways that a non-believer can appreciate and understand.
It’s the kind of reading list a culture of seekers needs. And of course, we have all these books for you at our online bookstore at BreakPoint.org.
Books for Unbelievers: Showing What the Faith Looks Like – Next Steps
For the seekers in your life, come to the bookstore to get copies of any or all of the books Eric mentioned in the commentary. As he said, these volumes reveal the truth of what it means to live a Christian life, warts and all.
They’d make great Christmas gifts for the non-believers in your sphere of influence. And for other great gift ideas, check out the Christmas Gift Guide at the online bookstore.
The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt
Joe Loconte | Thomas Nelson Publishers | June 2012
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life
Rod Dreher | Grand Central Publishing | April 2013
Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir
Susan Isaacs | Faithwords | March 2011
Wherever I Wind up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball
R. A. Dickey | Blue Rider Press | March 2012
The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions
David Berlinski | Basic Books | September 2009