April 22, 2009

Why Should Christians Read Books by “Those Dead Guys”? Dead Guys Have Something to Say!

Posted in Devotionals at 11:18 pm by Sarah Bosse

Have you ever visited one of those contemporary coffee-house themed, artsy, sofa-littered Christian bookstores and felt that something (or Someone) was missing?  (Perhaps you’ve had the unfortunate experience of visiting a church that could be described in the same manner.)  If so, I hope to bring you a breath of life from those who are physically dead, yet who are more alive in Christ than the attendees of many contemporary Christian churches in the United States today.  

I recently read the account of a man who visited a Christian bookstore that fit this model, seeking a copy of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters.  He was turned away with, “He’s dead and we don’t carry books by dead authors.”  The writer pointed out the contradiction; there was a sizeable section in the bookstore for Bibles of every possible binding material and color.  And the human authors of the Bible are (clearing throat), um, quite physically dead.  Granted, God is not dead (nor are the souls of the apostles) and it is for this reason that I am writing tonight.  

Here are some excellent resources to help whet your appetite for solid Christian texts.  Most are written by “those dead guys” your preacher keeps talking about.  And many are written in an older style of English that, I will admit, takes some getting used to.  I’d like to encourage you, however, not to settle for the “new” re-worded versions of these old texts, but to work through them as they were originally written.  Who would be able to condense Spurgeon and make him more “readable” without losing the sweet butter that comes from churning the milk?  I started reading Charles Spurgeon’s sermons and devotionals about four years ago.  It was hard going at first, but the Lord has rewarded my efforts.  You don’t have to be any smarter than the average Joe or Judy to comprehend what’s been written; you just have to take the time to read and re-read what you don’t understand at first.  



Christian Classics Ethreal Library

Don’t let the intimidating name fool you!  This Christian library/bookstore has more than 600 old theological texts and classics.  And most of them can be read online for FREE in multiple formats; PDF (not always free, but always affordable), .txt, HTML (always free), and audiobook MP3 recording.  Though CCEL can be used without obtaining a FREE membership and login, there are distinct advantages to becoming a member.  For example, you can save your own notes and add three colors of highlighting to any book you’re reading, and it’s all saved online.  The CCEL Bible Browser also has multiple versions which can be displayed side-by-side, reference materials, and commentaries.  These resources can be accessed for free because they are listed under “public domain,” meaning they are no longer held by an active copyright and my be reproduced unless otherwise specified.

CCEL Recommended Reading Bookshelf

Don’t know where to start or what to start reading?  CCEL has made it easy for you, and I can say that many books on this list are Must Read’s.  

The Online Books Page – J.M. Ockerbloom

I’m not as familiar with this resource, but CCEL says that if you cannot find a particular work you’re searching for through CCEL or Google Books, go to John Mark Ockerbloom’s Online Books website to search for it.  Although I’ve been able to find works for which I know the author and title, exploration is a bit trickier at this library because of its organizational structure.  In any case, it provides hyperlinks to many other library websites that may have good Christian materials.  

DesiringGod.org Resource Library

Desiring God Ministries, lead by John Piper, has an easily searchable, exploration-friendly resource library where you can watch videos, listen to and read transcripts of sermons, and even read PDF versions of John Piper’s books for free!  For those real-life questions that you need practical answers for, this is the place to go!  John’s not dead yet.  But he is one of those men whose life is wrapped up in doing good for the love of God and living to glorify God alone.  Therefore, Desiring God Ministries’ resources belong here.  
If you know of other Christian online libraries/bookstores of noteworthiness, please comment to this post, and I’ll make a future edit to add in your submission.

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