Only human beings read. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle thought the distinguishing feature of people is their ability to use language. And humans use their unique language ability to think, speak, write, and read.

From a historic Christian perspective, the idea of human exceptionalism is grounded in the biblical truth that people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). This imago Dei endowment makes people capable of hunting and gathering truth. And since Christians affirm a propositional (words, statements) revelation from God in the Bible, they join with the Jewish tradition as People of the Book. Thus, reading is a great gift and privilege, but one may also argue that it is a responsibility according to our profound created nature.

12 Book Favorites

This is part one of a three-part series on some of my favorite books. The topics cover theology, philosophy, apologetics, and education. I also note how the books have been helpful to me. The books are listed in alphabetical order, not order of preference:

1. Confessions by St. Augustine

This is St. Augustine’s most famous book and one of the most important Christian books in history. Augustine’s autobiography actually created the genre of biographical writings in Western civilization. Thus, this book is both a Christian and literary classic and appears in all the great books reading programs. The title, Confessions, is understood in a triple sense: confession of sin, confession of a newfound faith, and confession of the glory of God. When I read this book, I benefit from Augustine’s great wisdom as a Christian philosopher and theologian. But personally, I feel I’m reading the words of an empathetic Christian friend and counselor.

2. God and Reason by Ed L. Miller

This book is a thorough introduction to the topic of philosophical theology. Miller explores the issues of the traditional arguments for God (cosmological, teleological, ontological, moral), religious experience, faith and reason, the problem of evil, the soul and immortality, and God and language. Miller, though a Christian by conviction, presents a fair and objective discussion of all topics. God and Reason has been a very helpful work to me as I have taught and written on various issues relating to God and philosophy.

3. Handbook of Basic Bible Texts by John Jefferson Davis

In this book, Christian theologian John Jefferson Davis takes every critical Scripture passage for the study of Christian doctrine and divides them according to the categories of systematic theology. This book thus contains all of the key passages that address basic Christian theological topics. Davis’s book is the most helpful work I’ve used in my research and study of Scripture and theology. When I write and speak on biblical and theological topics, I always utilize this very helpful volume.

4. How to Read a Book by Mortimer by J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

This book is a best-selling contemporary classic on the topic of reading. It explores all phases of reading, including elementary, skimming, analytical, and syntopical. It provides guidance in reading all kinds of books. How to Read a Book revolutionized my understanding of reading and became one of the most important books that I have ever read. I learned so much from this work that I return to it yearly for continuous review and study of the art and science of reading.

So these are four of my favorite and most useful books. In part two of this series, I’ll discuss four more on my list of a dozen favorite books.

From the Latin Tolle lege, I invite you to take up and read!

Reflections: Your Turn

What are some of your favorite books? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

Check out more from Dr. Kenneth Samples @Reasons.org

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.



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