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Supplementary List of Christian Classics

Robert Harris
January 18, 1999


Here is a list of several more Christian classics to supplement those required in English 470.

Joseph Alleine. An Alarm to Unconverted Sinners. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978. ISBN 0-8010-0124-2. As the title suggests, this is an evangelistic work, published around the 1660's. Quote: "You shall find, whatever excuses you make for ignorance, that it is a soul-ruining evil."

Anonymous, The Theologica Germanica of Martin Luther. New York: Paulist Press, 1980. ISBN 0-8091-2291-X. One of Martin Luther's favorite books. About life in God as it translates into life in the world. Philosophical/devotional. Written around 1350. Quote: "If peace were to be had in external things, the devil himself would have peace when everything goes according to his will and pleasure. But he does not. [Christ left us] the inner peace that comes in the midst of hardship. . . ."

Athanasius. The Incarnation of the Word of God.

St. Augustine. The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love. Washington, D. C.: Regnery Gateway, 1961. ISBN 0-89526-938-4. An "exposition of the essential teachings of Christianity" written in 421. Theology. Quote: "Nor are we to suppose that there is any lie that is not a sin, because it is sometimes possible, by telling a lie, to do service to another. For it is possible to do this by theft also. . . ."

Richard Baxter. Dying Thoughts. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976. ISBN 0-8010-0601-5. Baxter discusses the hope of heaven and the duty of life on earth. While looking toward heaven, we should consider our time here: "The life to come depends upon this present life; as the life of adult age depends upon infancy; or the reward upon the work; or the prize of racers or soldiers upon their running or fighting; or the merchant's gain upon his voyage." Baxter died in 1691.

Maximus Confessor. Selected Writings. New York: Paulist Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8091-2659-1. A collection of wonderful aphorisms on love, a commentary on the Lord's Prayer, and a philosophical discussion of knowledge. Maximus died in 662. Quote: "As health and sickness have to do with the body of an animal and light and darkness with the eye, so do virtue and vice have to do with the soul and knowledge and ignorance with the mind."

Walter Hilton. The Scale of Perfection. c. 1396

Samuel Johnson. Sermons. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978. More than two dozen excellent, wise, interesting sermons by the great Dr. Johnson, first published in 1788. Quote: "There are sick minds as well as sick bodies; there are understandings perplexed with scruples, there are consciences tormented wit guilt; nor can any greater benefit be conferred, than that of settling doubts, or comforting despair, and restoring a disquieted soul to hope and tranquillity."

Lady Julian of Norwich. The Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love. c. 1413.

William Law. A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. New York: Paulist Press, 1978. ISBN 0-8091-2144-1. Written in 1728, this book reflects the partnership between reason and faith before they were separated by other thinkers later on. Law argues that reason not only leads to faith, but keeps the thinking person faithful. Quotations: "If you live contrary to reason, you don't commit a small crime, you don't break a small trust; but you break the law of your nature. . . ." And, "But, alas, though God and nature and reason make human life thus free from wants and so full of happiness, yet our passions, in rebellion against God, against nature and reason, create a new worlds of evils and fill human life with imaginary wants and vain disquiets." Recommended for the thinking Christian, or those who are interested in the concept.

C. S. Lewis. The Problem of Pain. New York: Macmillan, 1978. ISBN 0-02-86850-2. This book is an apologetic offering a modern look at the age-old question of why there is suffering in a world made and governed by a good God. Since the existence of evil is one of the principal arguments in the atheist catalog against the existence of God, the answers presented in this book are well worth knowing.

John Locke. The Reasonableness of Christianity. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1965. ISBN 0-89526-753-5. Published in 1695, this book argues that Christianity possesses a rational integrity and a sensibleness that many of its detractors had denied. Locke shows that empiricism must be large enough to allow for non-observable but believable occurrences. Quote: "To a man under the difficulties of his nature, beset with temptations, and hedged in with prevailing custom, it is no small encouragement to set himself seriously on the courses of virtue and practice of true religion, that he is, from a sure hand and an Almighty arm, promised assistance to support and carry him through."

Margery Kempe. The Book of Margery Kempe. New York: Penguin, 1985. ISBN 0-14-043251-5. The earliest autobiography of an English person, tracing "her life's journey towards God" through failure, madness, fourteen children, and several lonely pilgrimages. Quote: "'Ah, daughter,' said our Lord, 'do not be afraid. I take no notice of what a man has been, but I take heed of what he will be.'"

Martin Luther. The Table Talk of Martin Luther. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979. ISBN 0-8010-5408-7. A generous collection of short pieces on various topics. Provides good insight into Luther's beliefs and spiritual values. Quote: "Divinity consists in use and practice, not in speculation and meditation."

Cotton Mather. Bonifacius: An Essay Upon the Good. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1966. This American work of Christian philosophy and exhortation was first published in 1710. Mather addresses various groups (schoolmasters, lawyers, magistrates, etc.), giving them advice on how to improve the Christian, practical, and good conduct of their lives. Quote: "In order to your being useful, Sirs, 'tis necessary that you be skillful."

William Paley, Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity. Collected from the Appearances of Nature. 12th edition. Chapters 1-6 and 27. The classic statement of the Argument from Design. Apologetics. Quote: "Suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think . . . that . . . the watch might have always been there."

Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters. New York: Penguin Books, 19 . ISBN 0-14-044196-4.

Richard Rolle. The Fire of Love. New York: Viking Penguin, 1972. ISBN 0-14-044256-1. This autobiographical, devotional, mystical work was written in 1343. It is the best known of Rolle's works. Quote: "People become like what they love, for they take their tone from the greed of their day and age."

St. Francis de Sales. Introduction to the Devout Life. Trans. John K. Ryan. New York: Doubleday (Image), 1989. ISBN 0-385-03009-6. A major devotional classic, a "handbook of spiritual reflection." Published 1608. Quote: "We must of course meekly put up with a friend's faults, but we must not lead him into faults, much less acquire his faults ourselves."

St. Francis de Sales. Treatise on the Love of God.

St. Teresa of Avila. The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila Written by Herself. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-044073-9. This is an autobiography of the famous Carmelite nun.

Taylor, Jeremy. Holy Living and Holy Dying.

Thomas a Kempis. Meditations on the Life of Christ. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978. ISBN 0-8010-0123-4. The other devotional masterpiece by the author of The Imitation of Christ. Quote: "Let the foul spitting upon Thy comely face keep down all carnal affections within me, and teach me not to heed outward glitter, but rather to honor the hidden graces of the soul."

[Ugolino di Monte Santa Maria]. The Little Flowers of St. Francis. New York: Doubleday, 1958. ISBN 0-385-07544-8. A collection of hundreds of stories about St. Francis of Assisi, from taming wolves to resisting temptation.


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Robert Harris is a writer and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the college and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com