I’ve been asked several times lately for book recommendations in the area of apologetics (learning to defend your faith), so today I’m giving you my top picks!
I’ve broken my recommendations into four areas, plus a bonus category of books that didn’t fit neatly elsewhere:
- Nature of Truth and Worldviews
- The Bible
I’m giving you three picks in each category. The “required” pick is what I recommend as the starting point. The “extra credit” pick will take you deeper. The “advanced” pick will challenge you significantly.
Remember, we can’t equip our kids to meet today’s faith challenges unless we first equip ourselves. No matter where you are on your faith journey, you’ll find something here that will deepen your faith and better prepare you to raise kids who love the Lord.
Nature of Truth and Worldviews
Paul Copan has written several really accessible books on apologetics. His chapters are typically very short and to the point, making his books good reads for busy parents. This book concisely but thoroughly addresses a plethora of common secular statements like, “Who are you to judge others?”, “Christians are intolerant!” and “Who are you to impose your morality on others?” It’s an excellent introduction to Christian logic on the nature of truth.
Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions by Winfried Corduan
This is not a short read – it’s 496 pages. But each chapter is an independent exploration of a different religion, so you can pick and choose chapters whenever you want. I read this recently and I can’t tell you how much it developed my understanding of Christianity in the context of other worldviews. Every Christian parent should work through this book (or one like it).
How Do We Know?: An Introduction to Epistemology by James K. Dew
Epistemology is the study of knowledge: how do we know what we know? In the Christian context, what makes belief in something rational and justified? I must say that I’m not a person who gets very excited about philosophy. But this particular topic is important for Christians to understand today, given how frequently non-believers make claims that Christian belief is irrational. This is a short and accessible introduction that provides an excellent framework for learning about this topic.
Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy and Science (a volume of articles edited by William Dembski and Michael Licona)
This is a unique collection of (mostly) easy-to-read articles that explain the evidence for God from a variety of sources. If you feel like you don’t have time to read whole books, this is a great resource – you can pick an article at a time!
Read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, then True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism (a volume of essays edited by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer)
Yes, I’m recommending that you read a book written by a highly antagonistic atheist (Richard Dawkins). But hear me out. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, will give you the sense of urgency you need for equipping your kids to defend their faith more than reading this 400+ page book of attacks on religion. It may be painful, but you have to know what your kids are up against. Otherwise, it’s like training a football team while refusing to watch the game films of your upcoming opponent.
When you’re done, read the book True Reason. This is a fantastic collection of essays that just destroy the notion that the new atheists – like Dawkins – should have any special claim to being more reasonable than Christians. These authors really nailed it. If you know teens who have been swayed by atheist writers, get them a copy of True Reason too.
Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig
No list of apologetics books would be complete without a recommendation for William Lane Craig. This is his classic book that dives deep into the evidence for God. If you are just starting out in apologetics, definitely don’t start here. But when you’re ready to really go deep, this is where you want to go. It’s difficult in parts, but don’t let that dissuade you from the rest.
The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona
There is no apologetics topic on Jesus more important than the resurrection. The near-universal claim of non-believers is that Jesus did not come back to life because we know that people who die stay dead. So what evidence is there that someone DID miraculously come back to life, even though we all know that doesn’t naturally happen? This book explains what you need to know: the resurrection is an event that is open to historical investigation, not a matter of blind faith. It’s a must-read.
No extra credit – focus on the required book! It’s that important.
Bart Ehrman is an ex-Christian New Testament scholar who has written several best-selling books challenging the reliability of the Bible. In How Jesus Became God, he attempts to make a case that neither the disciples nor Jesus himself claimed that Jesus was God. Here again I’m recommending you read a book by a non-believer so you can understand what the secular world is saying. After you read Ehrman’s book, read How God Became Jesus, which is a response to Ehrman by five biblical scholars who are Christians.
Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace
When someone asks me for a book recommendation for getting started in apologetics, this is my go-to title. J. Warner Wallace is a homicide detective and former atheist who examined the claims of the New Testament using detective techniques. The book considers important questions like, “Were the witnesses present?” “Were they corroborated?” “Were they accurate?” and “Were they biased?” The information is creatively presented through a detective’s evaluation, making it a fascinating and memorable read. My top recommendation in the list.
Can We Still Believe the Bible? By Craig L. Blomberg
This book is more academic in nature than Cold-Case Christianity, but addresses some crucial questions about the Bible that Cold-Case Christianity doesn’t get into. Most books on these particular questions are quite dry, but I found this one to be very readable. Each of the following questions forms a chapter in the book: Aren’t the copies of the Bible hopelessly corrupt? Wasn’t the selection of books for the canon just political? Can we trust any of our translations of the Bible? Don’t these issues rule out biblical inerrancy? Aren’t several narrative genres of the Bible unhistorical? Don’t all the miracles make the Bible mythical? Every Christian should be able to answer these questions. If you can’t, get this book.
(Very, Very, Very) Advanced
On the Reliability of the Old Testament by K.A. Kitchen
This one is for the over-achievers. It’s 500+ pages about the archaeological support for the Old Testament by a top scholar. For most, that’s enough information to move you on to my next recommendation. But if you like history or have a special interest in the Old Testament, this is an amazing work. It really gave me an appreciation for the difficulties of Old Testament research.
Bonus Picks (books that don’t fit neatly in the other categories)
Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Beliefs by Mark Mittelberg
If you’re just getting started on the journey of developing a more well-rooted faith, this is a wonderful book that is totally unintimidating. Mittelberg writes as if you are sitting down with him over a cup of coffee. The book has a fun “Faith Path Questionnaire” that helps you discover how you came to your beliefs, describes the six different types of faith paths (and their positive/negative aspects), introduces twenty pieces of evidence for Christianity, and explains ten barriers to belief. It’s a smorgasbord of insight into developing a more confident faith. If you feel like you’re not a very “academic” person, you may enjoy this one more than any other! And if you enjoy this book, you should check out Mittelberg’s book Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, which tackles 10 big questions in a similarly accessible way.
When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences by Norman Geisler
Appropriately named, this is a catch-all “handbook” that discusses a broad spectrum of questions about Christianity. Each chapter stands alone, so you can read it as you have time, or treat it strictly as a reference. Very well written and easy to read.
Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer
You may have noticed that I didn’t get into books on creation and evolution here. The subject is critical but would require its own post of recommendations. That said, if I could isolate just one book from that category to add here, it would be this one. Signature in the Cell explains in great detail the complexities of DNA to answer the question of whether life is the product of unthinking matter or of an intelligent mind. I’m not sure any book has made more of an impression on me in terms of the evidence for God.
OK, your turn! What picks would you add to the list? Do you have any thoughts to add on the books listed here? I’d love to hear what you think!