Monday, May 20, 2013

The Christian's Essential Library

Every industry has certain tools of the trade. Saws and hammers for the carpenter, gun and handcuffs for the police officer, and a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff for the nurse. A diverse resource library is a tool for the Christian to grow in his or her knowledge and understanding of Scripture. In this posting I will highlight the books which I believe are essential for a Christian’s library.

  • A plain text Bible with wide margins for note taking, such as the ESV Legacy Bible. I appreciate my study Bibles, but realize that the notes can perform the thinking for me, rather than allowing me to initially wrestle with the text on my own. 
  • Living by the Book by Dr. Howard Hendricks. Most of us don’t really know how to study the Bible. This book teaches the art and science of reading the Bible through observation, interpretation, and application. Very readable and full of exercises, it should be a staple for every collection. 
  •  A systematic theology book to take us deeper into doctrinal studies. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology is an excellent volume which treats varying viewpoints accurately and fairly.
  •   A concise one or two volume commentary for both the Old and New Testaments. The two volume Bible Knowledge Commentary (Walvoord and Zuck) and John MacArthur’s one volume Bible Commentary are excellent resources which I have used for many years. 
  •  A Bible dictionary to define terms and provide additional background. I use the New Bible Dictionary (Marshall, Millard, Packer, and Wiseman). 
  •  A Bible Handbook such as Halley’s Bible Handbook, Zondervan’s Handbook to the Bible, or The MacArthur Bible Handbook to provide additional book background and themes.
  • An exhaustive concordance to look up specific words within the text of your preferred translation. While words can be searched using Bible websites today, I prefer a physical book for easier and more robust searching.
  • A concise book on church history. I like the book Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley. 
  •  The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. This rich and robust classic allegory of the Christian faith will provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of our life in Christ. I read it annually.

This library will cost approximately $300 and may take months or years to build. The money invested will pale in comparison to the richer understanding of Scripture gained through enhanced study using the resources.

These books are only my suggestions, what resources have you found helpful or believe are essential for a library?  

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