Fiction and Biography Suggestions

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Michael Kinch | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Dec 26 2021 7:22 AM

I am putting together a reading list for next year and as part of that list I want to include some fiction and biography books. What are some of your favorites? What comes to my mind is Pilgrims Progress, In His Steps, Hammer of God, The Hiding Place, various biblical historical fiction books such as the Day In The Life series, biographies of well known Christians such as George Whitefield. What are your suggestions? What search criteria would you use on the Logos website or in your library?  Thankyou!

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Christian Alexander | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 26 2021 7:38 AM

Just a thought Michael. I do not read fiction. Some Fiction novels can easily present to your mind and consideration concepts and messages that clearly violate the Bible and your Christian values. Colossians 3:1–2 reminds us to set our minds on things above. Besides Jesus and Nathan, the Bible records stories by Jotham ( Judges 9:7-15) and Ezekiel (17:1-8). So, it is established that it is not sinful to read or write fiction. We need to stand firm on our basis of theological reflection and ideological thoughts and patterns. Marshall Segal of Desiring God says reading genres of fiction  “might feel like a fun and harmless fantasy, but it’s not so subtly redefining the power and beauty of sex, creating spiritual blockages in your heart…and impairing your ability to enjoy real and lasting pleasure.” Randy Alcorn has written extensively about sexual purity. I’d encourage you to read his article Guidelines for Sexual Purity, his book The Purity Principle, or his booklet Sexual Temptation: Establishing Guardrails and Winning the Battle. These things would help you establish a Biblical view—something solid against which to line up your behavior and choices. Let me know what you think about my post.

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Christian Alexander | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 26 2021 7:39 AM

Check out George Marsden for some good bios. 

here’s a clip where Randy talks about the importance of guarding our minds.

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 26 2021 8:26 AM

Christian Alexander:

Just a thought Michael. I do not read fiction. 

Clean, but spectacularly ineffective. Eating with the sinners has its good points.

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Michael Kinch | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 26 2021 12:54 PM

Christian Alexander:

Just a thought Michael. I do not read fiction. Some Fiction novels can easily present to your mind and consideration concepts and messages that clearly violate the Bible and your Christian values. Colossians 3:1–2 reminds us to set our minds on things above. Besides Jesus and Nathan, the Bible records stories by Jotham ( Judges 9:7-15) and Ezekiel (17:1-8). So, it is established that it is not sinful to read or write fiction. We need to stand firm on our basis of theological reflection and ideological thoughts and patterns. Marshall Segal of Desiring God says reading genres of fiction  “might feel like a fun and harmless fantasy, but it’s not so subtly redefining the power and beauty of sex, creating spiritual blockages in your heart…and impairing your ability to enjoy real and lasting pleasure.” Randy Alcorn has written extensively about sexual purity. I’d encourage you to read his article Guidelines for Sexual Purity, his book The Purity Principle, or his booklet Sexual Temptation: Establishing Guardrails and Winning the Battle. These things would help you establish a Biblical view—something solid against which to line up your behavior and choices. Let me know what you think about my post.

Thanks Christian. I appreciate your post. I am with you 100% in regards to fiction that portray any kind of sin in a positive light. However there are good fiction volumes that can aid us in our Christian walk such as Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan which is an allegorical story of Pilgrim's journey to the celestial city. It is a great read. I have heard different preachers say that they read it at least once a year.

Another good book is In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. Deeply shaken by the appearance of a mysterious stranger in town and his impassioned pleas for the poor and downtrodden, the minister and five influential parishioners begin a year-long experience in Christianity. Each has resolved to conduct his life according to the precepts of Christ, applying His behavior to their own lives. 

Hammer of God by Bo Geirtz: In this bestselling novel, three pastors learn the necessity of relying on God's grace. They fall short of their pastoral duties through public humiliation, self-doubt, inability to accept God's promises in their own lives, and divisions and quarreling among their parishioners. Ultimately each man rejects temptations and permits the Holy Spirit to work through him.

These and other books like them aid us in our Christian walk but they also provide us with sources for illustrations in our sermons and bible lessons. Additionally we sometimes meet people who are not yet ready to read a systematic theology or perhaps a commentary on the book of Matthew, but will read something like the books I have listed above. We need to meet people where they are but not leave them there - work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit as He leads them into a deeper relationship with God. It pays to have in our spiritual toolbox a variety of tools to assist people who are open to the Holy Spirit's leading. One of those tools is to have a list of books that will speak to people in various stages in their walk with Christ. To me it just makes sense to be well read, to read and study a variety of genres. My passion is Biblical Study but some genres including poetry help me to appreciate and apply what God has shown me in His Word. I hope this helps.

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Christian Alexander | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 26 2021 1:02 PM

Sounds good. I have read a lot of fiction books and as a seminarian in training I feel as though it is better for the laity to have a better grip on the biblical world than read errata works. We all know that life gets away from us at times. We need to be more ideological in our approach to make sure Satan does not get in.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 26 2021 2:20 PM
  • The Way of the Pilgrim - anonymous
  • Barabbas - Par Lagerkvist (a favorite)
  • The Archbishop - Tihon Hieromonk
  • The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
  • The Robe - Lloyd Douglas (popular in my childhood)
  • Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
  • East of Eden - John Steinbeck
  • Joseph and his Brothers - Thomas Mann
  • Laurus - Eugene Vodolazkin
  • Silence: A Novel - Shusaku Endo
  • The Last Temptation of Christ - Nikos Kazantzakis (scandalous in my childhood)
  • Calm - Jose Saramgo
  • Quarantine - Jim Crace
  • The Word - Irving Wallace
  • Death on a Friday Afternoon - Richard Neuhaus
  • Parrot's Perch - Michal Rio

There are many many more I've read over the years.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 26 2021 2:43 PM

Christian Alexander:
I do not read fiction. Some Fiction novels can easily present to your mind and consideration concepts and messages that clearly violate the Bible and your Christian values.

Among my friends are at least three people who were brought to Christ through fiction and poetry. In this post you are simply giving your (theological) opinion which is not allowed in the forums. As a Faithlife scholar also writes sci-fi, perhaps you should read The Theology of Sci-Fi: The Christian’s Guide to the Galaxy by Scott L. Smith Jr. For a more general view see the short and foundational  A Theology of Literature:The Bible as Revelation in the Tradition of the Humanities by William Franke. Unfortunately I can't think of the title of Beale on the Behemoth and other Biblical monsters.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 26 2021 2:51 PM

Christian Alexander:
I feel as though it is better for the laity to have a better grip on the biblical world than read errata works.

I resent the implication of this division between seminarians and laity. There are plenty of people in the lay camp who are better educated in their faith than a graduate of a seminary. And there are plenty of churches with a long tradition of lay pastors (think Apostolic (Finnish) Lutheran Church i.e. Grandma)

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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David Scott | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 26 2021 5:39 PM

C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce is a personal favorite.

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Kathleen Marie | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 26 2021 8:18 PM

Writer's are artists, and artists use different methods to deliver their message. Stories are powerful. Stories can be more concise, linear, and targeted than a biography. Real life is messier and full of side trips that can dilute the message. Sometimes an author with secrets can be more honest in fiction than he can in non-fiction. Stories are one method of many methods to give a message. I am so thankful for all the genres published by faithlife.

Leland Ryken's books are interesting.  He uses the same methods of literary appreciation for the Bible as some secular classics. This a small sample of all that Leland Ryken; has written.

Reading the Bible as Literature Collection (6 vols.)

https://www.logos.com/product/167662/reading-the-bible-as-literature-collection

A Christian Guide to the Classics

https://www.logos.com/search?filters=author-10263

The Soul in Paradise: A Treasury of Classic Devotional Poems

https://www.logos.com/product/30731/hawthornes-the-scarlet-letter

The Scarlet Letter

https://www.logos.com/product/30731/hawthornes-the-scarlet-letter

And coauthored this book with Karen Swallow Prior who writes some similar guides.

On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books

by Leland Ryken; Karen Swallow Prior https://www.logos.com/product/168622/on-reading-well-finding-the-good-life-through-great-books

Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad; Karen Swallow Prior

https://faithlife.com/store/product/189678/heart-of-darkness 

The Syntopicon: An Index to the Great Ideas

https://faithlife.com/store/product/177701/the-syntopicon-an-index-to-the-great-ideas

by Mortimer J. Adler Is a giant two volume index that groups both secular classics with Bible scripture by topic.

Great Books of the Western World (60 vols.) 

I find that the Verbum software handles this set better than Logos if you only have the most basic levels of features. I love love LOVE this set!

https://faithlife.com/store/product/55052/great-books-of-the-western-world

Posts 635
Roy | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Dec 28 2021 7:46 PM

I like Frank Peretti. For overtly spiritual content look into "This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness". I have read both 2 or 3 times already.

I also like C.S. Lewis. His space trilogy was ok, but the third volume (That Hideous Strength) was some-what dry for me.

Thumbs up on Screwtape and The Great Divorce. Of course can't fail to mention the Narnia series.

I also really liked the Left Behind series.

There is another book that I can not recall the title to right now, if I find it I'll let you know.

Posts 460
John Connell | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 29 2021 5:04 AM

Both of these biographies of J. I. Packer are worth reading.

https://www.logos.com/product/165974/j-i-packer-an-evangelical-life

https://www.logos.com/product/197242/j-i-packer-his-life-and-thought

-john

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers (Mal 4:6a)

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