A man who will be mentoring a college-aged student in theology, Bible, and apologetics for a year asked me for some recommendations on materials he could use. I wanted to post my recommendations here, as well, because many of you may be looking for some sort of program you can go through on your own in order to develop a better foundation for your life as a Christian. And many others of you might like to use the knowledge God has gifted you with by starting a class or book club to build up the body of Christ around you.
Everything on this list is written at a level that a layperson can understand—there’s nothing too technical or overly academic. It will give you a good foundation in the Bible (which is most important), cover a few topics in apologetics that are big right now, and give you tools on how to think and have productive conversations.
The total number of pages in the books (not counting Bible pages) comes out to only 2489. That means if you go through this over a year’s time, there are roughly 50 pages of reading a week, or only 7 pages a day. Anyone can do this. And if you fall behind, just extend the time a little longer in order to finish.
Find a friend who can join with you to discuss these ideas and keep you on track, and then start reading! I recommend reading them in this order:
- From Creation to the Cross (and the associated “Suggested Scripture Readings” in each chapter) – Book: Understanding the big picture of the Bible and how the Old Testament fits together with the New is valuable both for theology and for apologetics. Nothing is more important than getting a good grasp of the Bible (400 pages).
- Never Read a Bible Verse – Article: An intro to hermeneutics.
- How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth – Book: The study of hermeneutics is crucial. This book has the basics you need to know (288 pages).
- You Want to Be a Good Apologist? – Post: The best advice I ever received.
- James Gray on Mastering the Bible – Article: This article has been life-changing for me. If you follow its advice, you’ll begin to know the Bible in a much deeper way.
- The Basics of New Testament Textual Criticism – Video: A series of free videos on how textual criticism works, helping you understand and answer objections about the reliability of the Bible.
- Knowing God – Book: Learn the basics of theology (286 pages—you can get a study guide for this one, as well).
- The Holiness of God – Book: Understanding God’s holiness is the key to answering many current apologetics questions. This is the biggest blind spot in our culture, so this one is a must-read (240 pages).
- Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions – Book: I think this is the most valuable apologetics resource out there, because it teaches you how to skillfully use any knowledge you have in conversation (208 pages).
- The Unaborted Socrates – Book: This book is excellent both at demonstrating good tactics and teaching pro-life apologetics (155 pages).
- The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus – Book: The resurrection is central to Christianity, and Gary Habermas is the expert on this subject (384 pages).
- If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil – Book: Evil is another hot topic in apologetics right now. Don’t let the length of this book scare you; the chapters are short, readable, and compelling (528 pages).
If you start planning for this now, you could easily begin on January 1.