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.

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The books I picked & why

Mere Christianity

By C. S. Lewis,

Book cover of Mere Christianity

Why did I love 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.

By C. S. Lewis,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Mere Christianity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Special 65th Anniversary Edition

One of the most popular and beloved introductions to the concept of faith ever written, 'Mere Christianity' has sold millions of copies worldwide.

The book brings together C.S. Lewis's legendary radio broadcasts during the war years, in which he set out simply to 'explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times'.

Rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity's many denominations, Mere Christianity provides an unequalled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to absorb a powerful, rational case for the Christian faith.

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

Why did I love 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.

By Timothy Keller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Reason for God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller people can believe in-by "a pioneer of the new urban Christians" (Christianity Today) and the "C.S. Lewis for the 21st century" (Newsweek).

Timothy Keller, the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, addresses the frequent doubts that skeptics, and even ardent believers, have about religion. Using literature, philosophy, real-life conversations, and potent reasoning, Keller explains how the belief in a Christian God is, in fact, a sound and rational one. To true believers he offers a solid platform on which to stand their ground against the backlash to religion created by the…

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

Why did I love 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…

By Alvin Plantinga,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Where the Conflict Really Lies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a long-awaited major statement by a pre-eminent analytic philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, on one of our biggest debates - the compatibility of science and religion. The last twenty years has seen a cottage industry of books on this divide, but with little consensus emerging. Plantinga, as a top philosopher but also a proponent of the rationality of religious belief, has a unique contribution to make. His theme in this short book is that the conflict
between science and theistic religion is actually superficial, and that at a deeper level they are in concord.

Plantinga examines where this conflict…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Francis Spufford,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Unapologetic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Unapologetic" is a brief, witty, personal, sharp-tongued defence of Christian belief, taking on Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and Christopher Hitchens' "God is Not Great". But it isn't an argument that Christianity is true - because how could anyone know that (or indeed its opposite)? It's an argument that Christianity is recognisable, drawing on the deep and deeply ordinary vocabulary of human feeling, satisfying those who believe in it by offering a ruthlessly realistic account of the bits of our lives advertising agencies prefer to ignore. It's a book for believers who are fed up with being patronised, for non-believers curious…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Thomas V. Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Sense of It All as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An instructive and entertaining book that addresses basic life questions. Relating numerous personal anecdotes, incorporating, intriguing material from the films of Woody Allen and the journals of Leo Tolstoy, and using the writings of the seventeenth-century genius Blaise Pascal as a central guide, Morris explores the nature of faith, reason, and the meaning of life. His lucid reflections provide fresh, fertile insights and perspectives for any thoughtful person journeying through life.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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