Why Believe In Jesus?

Discovering the fundamentals of Christianity!

Book Reviews

There are a lot of great books out there for the Christian, the seeker, the enquirer or the sceptic. Whatever your faith, there's a book which can help you make sense of Christianity. Below are a handful of books I have read which I've found particularly helpful or inspiring. It is by no means an exhaustive list of every book I've ever gained something from, but it might give you an idea of what's out there and some useful resources to deepen your knowledge of what it means to be a Christian.

NIV / The Message Study Bible

It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to see that the Bible is on my book of recommended reads! But in English there are dozens of well-known translations and it can be down to personal preference as to whether to go for the first English translation, the King James Version (KJV) or something written in more modern English. One of the most faithful, modern and accessible translations is the New International Version (NIV) but I also love The Message translation, which endeavours to phrase the Bible more colloquially without losing the original text. This Study Bible has both these translations side by side and also helpful notes on the text to help you get the most out of understanding the passage. 
As an example of the text, here is the sixteenth verse of the book of John chapter three:

NIV: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

The Message: "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life."

Who?

This excellent book by Paul Langham, simply entitled "Who?" is "for people who don't read the Bible". So if the Study Bible above looks a bit daunting, this will be very easy stuff to quickly pick up and get your teeth into. It declares itself a fresh introduction to the world's bestseller and the author explains his purpose in writing it: "I have tried to imagine how the New Testament authors might have written had they been alive today." It is clear and concise and has a tone which can be picked up by anyone. I have seriously gained a lot of insight into the New Testament by reading this very helpful book! One to lend your friends if they are curious about who Jesus is, and similarly valuable to someone who knows the Bible inside out. The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are combined into one then follows the recognised flow of letters from Paul and others, then John's books, Revelation and his gospel on the life of Jesus conclude this handy little paperback. Highly recommended to all!

Uncover

Now this is a Bible study guide I really recommend. The Uncover Gospel Project written by Rebecca Manley Pippert and produced by UCCF (www.uccf.org.uk/uncover) is a combination a study guide, gospel and online content which can be accessed immediately by QR code. The Seeker Bible Study consists of a six study sessions with notes and relevant bits of text from the Gospel of Luke included. It is designed for ordinary Christians with no professional or previous experience of evangelising to be able to share this good news with interested friends, family, students, colleagues or whoever. Following on from this you can also get a small pocket-sized copy of the full Gospel of Luke. Both have interesting, contemporary designs which encompass the idea of searching through evidence for answers. Uncover was originally designed for the UK student population but due to popularity, is now widely available in churches and beyond. Visit the website above for further information.

Questioning Evangelism

Fantastic book - well written and easy to get into. Randy Newman embraces the huge task of evangelism without the need for excessive off-putting preaching. He reasons why it is so much better to engage other people's hearts through questioning as it gets to the root of people's concerns and problems and encourages two-way conversation. In this book he goes into detail about why asking questions is preferential to just presenting people with answers, talks about the sort of questions people are asking (e.g. why are Christians so intolerant?) and some of the deeper issues of when questions and answers aren't enough (because of our motives). It's broken down into very helpful short chapters and is very easy to read. The target audience is a Christian who is not necessarily an evangelist foremost, but who wants to be able to engage with and understand the people around them, and to bring the gospel into people's lives without being preachy.

Things God Wants Us To Know

This handy little book is only 63 pages long and is broken down into five short chapters of things a seeker or investigator of Christianity might need to know a little more about. Written by evangelist Roger Carswell, who is a delightful and funny bloke (listen to a sermon of his if you get the chance!) this little pocket-sized hardback is written in an easy-to-understand and engaging way. It covers the nature of God, the nature of us, what God has done and what we must do. Perfect for passing the time in a waiting room or on a train journey!

Creation or Evolution

This is a book of specialist interest and will not appeal to a lot of people but if the topic of creation or evolution is something that you have opinions about, I highly recommend getting into this book, which even a non-specialist can follow, given his writing style. I am often frustrated by the mistaken assumptions that I hear in the Christian community that evolutionists are deluding themselves, and similarly from everywhere else that Christians are out of touch with reality. The author, Dr Denis Alexander is a highly qualified scientist whose origins are in biochemistry, is Oxbridge educated and has worked with Cancer Research in London and has a PhD in Neurochemistry. On top of all this, he is a steadfast Christian believer who sees no conflict of interests between his passions. In my opinion, a book written about the relationship between Christianity and science should be written by someone who has a wealth of experience and knowledge in both fields, and not solely in one or the other.