The best books to understand why smart people believe in Christianity

John G. Stackhouse Jr. Author Of Can I Believe? Christianity for the Hesitant
By John G. Stackhouse Jr.

Who am I?

Ever since my ninth grade English teacher provoked me with religious questions I not only couldn’t answer, but had never even considered, I’ve been interrogating my Christian faith. Now, several decades later, with a PhD from the University of Chicago and a handful of books published by the Oxford University Press, I’m in a better position to answer those questions, and to recognize the good answers of others. I don’t think we ever get perfect answers to the Big Questions, but we can get answers adequate for trusting God, and that’s enough.


I wrote...

Can I Believe? Christianity for the Hesitant

By John G. Stackhouse Jr.,

Book cover of Can I Believe? Christianity for the Hesitant

What is my book about?

Maybe Christianity is true. But how could one possibly decide that among the world’s religious options? This book outlines a process for thinking about religion reasonably and responsibly. It then tells the story of the Christian religion in a way that will startle most readers while clearing away misunderstandings that have repelled so many.

The book goes on to look at why two billion people find this religion to be persuasive. But it also acknowledges that many find it implausible because Christians insist that theirs is the only way to God and because the problem of evil seems to undercut everything Christianity asserts. Can I Believe? refuses to dodge hard questions as it welcomes the intelligent inquirer to give Christianity at least one good look.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Mere Christianity

By C.S. Lewis,

Book cover of Mere Christianity

Why this book?

Lewis’s classic is the most popular and influential defense of Christian belief published in the last 100 years. It is cited more often than any other book, particularly among scientists, philosophers, and other thoughtful people as important to them on their journey to the Christian faith. It’s a little dated now—the gap between Lewis and ourselves stretches wider each year—but it’s still compelling.


The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

By Timothy Keller,

Book cover of The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

Why this book?

Manhattan pastor Tim Keller is used to handling the toughest questions from the brightest people. This book compiles his answers to some of those, from “How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?” to the church’s responsibility for so much injustice. Keller reads widely and well, and he writes with a respectful seriousness without being ponderous or preachy.


Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism

By Alvin Plantinga,

Book cover of Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism

Why this book?

Professor Plantinga, retired from the University of Notre Dame, is one of the greatest American philosophers of this generation. In this book, he nicely summarizes a career’s-worth of study and insight into the supposed “warfare between science and religion,” showing that there is no such warfare, not really, between science and Christianity—but there might be some real problems between, say, science and the breezy scientism of the New Atheists…


Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense

By Francis Spufford,

Book cover of Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense

Why this book?

Spufford, an award-winning English author and writing professor, shows his skill in a frank conversational style about Christianity’s appeal…to the emotions. Rather in the manner of a clever chap holding forth over several cups of coffee (or, indeed, beers down at the pub), Spufford puts his own soul under the spotlight in a disarming appeal to how things deeply feel, not just how they might appear under the cold light of reason.


Making Sense of It All: PASCAL and the Meaning of Life

By Thomas V. Morris,

Book cover of Making Sense of It All: PASCAL and the Meaning of Life

Why this book?

You’ll have to work to find a copy of this book, but it will be worth your while. Morris is a brilliant philosopher (PhD from Yale, formerly on the faculty at Notre Dame) who has a flair for public speaking and accessible writing. (He wrote the Philosophy for Dummies book also.) In this volume, he champions the French scientific and philosophical genius Blaise Pascal to show the relevance of Pascal’s thought to our time and to our most pressing concerns.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fundamentalism, Christianity, and atheism?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about fundamentalism, Christianity, and atheism.

Fundamentalism Explore 11 books about fundamentalism
Christianity Explore 342 books about Christianity
Atheism Explore 26 books about atheism

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Atheist Who Didn't Exist Or, Amplified Holy Bible, and Days of Wine and Roses if you like this list.