Seeker Selections

     In the grand scheme of things in the CCO calendar, the whole universe revolves around our divinely-appointed schedule, doesn't it? We fast approach the liturgical season of RSVP. For any non-CCO staff peeking over somebody's shoulder reading this, RSVP is in-house short-hand for a very seeker-sensitive evangelistic weekend retreat where issues of life: sexual abuse, the meaning of work, dating and the like, are frankly discussed as a way to raise questions of ultimate concern. In other words, there is little overt "Christian lingo" or heavy Bible preaching. [Note to CCO staff: remind your sometimes overly earnest disciples that this is about integral, relational, contextualized worldviewish evangelism; no big ol' black leather Bibles or "This Blood's for You" T-shirts, please.]

     If done right, and with the extra-anointing of the Spirit which calls people to their Creator, we can expect incredibly meaningful conversations and a harvest of the newly-redeemed. For folks to understand the gift of salvation, though, sometimes takes a while; while we should always be eager to press for that marvelous once-in-a-lifetime confession of sin and profession of faith, often we must nurture the journey with good talks, careful listening and reading a few books together. Here, then, is a list of good books for seekers (those interested in learning more about the faith) or for those questioning the existence of God and the truthfulness of the claims of Christ. Actually, this is only part one of the list. Look for additional suggestions in an upcoming Ministry Exchange, including some selections that might be a little more, uh, a bit more surprising. May we use these books, learn from them, pass them around so that true seekers would learn that the gospel can stand up to any of their questions, and that Jesus the Christ can free them to live a Kingdom life of meaning, depth, and purpose.

    A Case for Christianity by Morris Inch (Tyndale), $10.99. A standard apologetics approach, responding to tough questions; the cover is nice and the writing very nicely done. The writer teaches at Wheaton and is well acquainted with the questions of students. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (Zondervan), $14.99. Strobel (now at Willow Creek) was an atheist journalist who set out to disprove the claims of Christ - and, you guessed it. He became a believer. This is a compilation he put together (with the help of some heavyweight Bible scholars) examining the historical N.T. documents, the reliability of the Bible, the relevance of Jesus, etc., etc. I've found that students love this one, even though it is fairly rigorous. 7 Myths about Christianity by Dale & Sandy Larsen (IVP), $9.99. Responds nicely to the charges that Christianity is arrogant, suppresses women, destroys native cultures, forces its morality on others, etcetera. I think this is especially good in the PC environment of collegiate life.

     Why Believe? Reason and Mystery as Pointers to God by C. Stephen Evans (Eerdmans), $13. A great book, very well-written, although perhaps a touch too philosophical for some. Still, highly, highly recommended. The Journey: A Spiritual Roadmap for Modern Pilgrims by Peter Kreeft (IVP), $9.99. Written as a novel where the delightful seeker goes through a journey meeting Socrates and others (a materialist, a skeptic, a nihilist, a pantheist, a Jew, etc.) until finally growing in his insight to meet Christ. Nice, not unlike Lewis at times. I wonder how many people are really this interested in a serious pursuit of truth. The Best Things in Life by Peter Kreeft (IVP), $11.99. A 20th Century Socrates looks at Power, Pleasure, Truth and the Good Life. Written as a series of dialogues, Socrates confronts Peter Pragma and Felicia Flake on the campus of Desperate State. How Do I Get To Know God? by D. James Kennedy (Revell), $9.99. Explains doctrinal concerns like how Christ makes a way to God, what is saving faith, what assurances do Christians have, etc. A helpful companion volume is What is God Like?, where short chapters look at the existence and nature of God. Searching Issues, Questions of Life and A Life Worth Living by Nicky Gumbel (Alpha), $9.99 each. Gumbel is an evangelist in England and is all the rage in evangelical Episcopal churches where his videos are being shown. The first book (Searching Issues) tackles objections to the faith while the second (Questions) is a practical introduction to Christianity. The last (A Life Worth Living) has practical insights for living the life of faith. Very user-friendly, good for new believers or young Christians, too.

     A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism by Ravi Zacharias (Baker), $12.99. Ravi is, obviously, quite the intellect, and this is a must for serious atheists. Finding Faith: A Self-Discovery Guide for Your Spiritual Quest by Brian McLaren (Zondervan), $17.99. A very handsome hardback, this is a gem of a book! Walks the interested seeker through a process of discovering credible faith. Fantastic! The author is a church-planter and attuned to postmodern issues and styles. Life. Any Questions? by Greg Laurie (Word), $15.99. Subtitled "Finding Spiritual Meaning on the Fast Track," this is a fantastic, brief presentation of the gospel for modern seekers. Very practical, responding to life issues of emptiness, fear, goals, meaning. Written by a powerful, young evangelist. What Angels Wish They Knew: The Basics of True Christianity by Alistair Begg (Moody), $16.99. A great little conversation (the first chapter is called "Mocha, Biscotti and the Search for Meaning") aimed particularly at the Starbucks crowd. Despite the cryptic title, this is a great example of making reformed essentials relevant to seekers. What Christians Really Believe & Why by Stan Grenz (Westminster), $12. Sensitive to worldviews, the quest for meaning and cultural trends like postmodernism and new-age pop spirituality, this attempts to move beyond what often seem like rather stale arguments over questions no one is asking anymore. Tremendous.

     Letters from a Skeptic by Dr. Gregory & Edward Boyd (Chariot), $11.99. A nicely-done hardback, a true selection of letters from an adult son who has become a Christian back to his nonbelieving father and his father's thoughtful critiques. I'm Glad You Asked by Ken Boa & Larry Moody (Victor), $10.99. In-depth answers to difficult questions about Christianity. A Reasonable Faith: The Case for Christianity in a Secular World by Tony Campolo (Word), $10.99. Not well-known, this is a great book, although pretty philosophical. Partly Right by Tony Campolo (Word), $10.99. Looks at the chief critics of Christianity that students will hear about in college - Darwin, Freud, Marx, et al. He builds a good bridge by saying that some of their critique of establishment religiosity is, in fact, correct. Of course, they are only partly right. Very useful for thoughtful students who tend to think along these lines. Jesus With Dirty Feet by Don Everts (IVP) $4.99. A very small paperback written in extended poetry style, which is a look at Christianity for the curious and skeptical. More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell (Tyndale), $4.99. Still one of the best little books to explore the claims of Christ. Clear and to the point. The Unknown God: Searching for Spiritual Fulfillment by Alister McGrath (Eerdmans), $18. Although McGrath is quite the reformed theologian, here he is found quoting D.H. Lawrence, Plato's Cave and numerous poets. Inside are nice graphics and beautiful full-color pictures making it appealing to the eye. Serious. A Search for the Spiritual: Exploring Real Christianity by James Emery White (Baker), $9.99. Wisely claiming that people are more interested in spiritual reality than propositional truth claims, this attempts to present an apologetic more in tune with real needs, questions and hungers. Still, it is hardly unusual, except an engaging style and an honesty that is intentionally and overtly seeker-oriented.