The following are various and wide ranging categories of Christian books that will give a Christian a fairly rounded and well grounded view of their faith and the essentials of Christian living and thinking. Although no author is mentioned twice, the mention of most authors is a clue that their other works are valuable as well. This is not necessarily my list of the greatest Christian books ever written. In fact, perhaps only a handful would fit that category. Unfortunately, many of the greatest Christian books are inaccessible to the modern reader who would have trouble reading for example, Calvin's "Institutes" or Jonathan Edward's "Freedom of the Will." This list rather, focuses on more readable books (mostly modern) that will immediately impact a Christian's thinking and way of living.
Knowing God Knowing God by J. I. Packer is the modern classic on the character of God. Packer is the accessible Evangelical theologian par excellence of the latter twentieth century. A. W. Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life will give you a glimpse of the greatness of God as no other book will in a compelling but simple and straighforward manner. The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul is another modern classic focusing particularly on the other-worldly and transcendent character of God's holiness. You will never think about God the same way again after reading this book.
The Bible and Doctrine Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine may be the most readable Systematic Theology ever written. It is also perhaps the most engaging and thought provoking. Here, theology is not stale bread for academics, but a rich feast for Believers who want to know God and love Him. Basic Theology by Charles Ryrie covers the ground in a way most can understand. Ryrie is especially helpful in areas related to the End Times. Scripture by Robert Saucy is an excellent introduction to the Bible as the source of our authority as Christians. Although there are many great books on the importance of the Bible for the believer, few are as rewarding as this one. Basic Bible Interpretation by Roy Zuck is the best book to introduce someone to the ever important task of understanding what the Bible means by what it says. Many newer books on Bible interpreation (i.e. hermenuetics) are hampered by the influence of Post-modern views of truth that make understanding the Bible very confusing for most.
Mere Christianity is already regarded as one of the greatest defenses of the Christian faith ever written. C. S. Lewis' probing insight into the problematic condition of fallen humanity and the answer only Christianity provides will stretch anyone's tightly closed mind. Philip Ryken's The Message of Salvation: The Lord Our Help (The Bible Speaks Today) canvasses the topic of salvation in very comphrehensive fashion. For the importance of understanding the rich dimension of the gospel and what it has done for believers, this is a great place to start. The Gospel According to Jesus: What Does Jesus Mean When He Says Follow Me? by John MacArthur is a book that will shatter the shallow conceptions of what it means to trust Christ for salvation and its implication for Christian living. Entering the controversy it raises is worth the reading, the very heart of the truth is at stake. John Stott's The Cross of Christ engages the meaning and significance of Christ's death more thoughtfully and biblically than any other book on the subject.
Faith in a Lost and Dying World Richard Pratt's Every Thought Captive: A Study Manual for the Defense of Christian Truth will introduce the Christian to understanding why only Christianity is true and all other religions and philosophies are false, plain and simple. This book will sharpen one's confidence in the abosolute reliability of Biblical Christianity as the foundation for making sense of the world we live in. Darwin on Trial began the decisive blow against the mega-idol of modern science and its relentless fascination with the ludicrous theory of Darwinism. Philip Johnson, the brilliant law professor from Berkley, shows where modern science has gone wrong and begins the return to Christianity as the rightful foundation for scientific inquiry. The God Who Is There is the foremost apologetic work of the twentieth century engaging a culture who has abandoned God. Francis Schaeffer almost singled-handedly set contemporary Chritians to thinking about their faith in a rotting world. David Wells' No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? is by far the most difficult read of this entire list. However, if one wants to know what has gone wrong with the Evangelical Church in the modern world, this is it. Christianity has lost its salt and light because it has romanced the deadly culture it seeks to transform and has itself been transformed into the likeness of the culture.
History and Biography Christianity Through the Centuries by Earle Cairns is a good overview of Church history, something every Christian should have an elementary grasp of. The Indestructible Book: The Bible, Its Translators, and Their Sacrifices by Ken Connolly is a fascinating survey of the development of the English Bible and its significance in the development of Western history. One will be amazed at the providence of God in preserving His Word for the ages. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton is a remarkable look at one of the most important figures in Church History. We are heirs to the tortured work of this reluctant monk turned firebrand for the cause of God and truth. No one captures the story better than Bainton. The Life and Diary of David Brainerd edited by the great pastor-theologian, Jonathan Edwards, is the book that literally awakened Western Christians to the necessity of wide spread missions. Brainerd, the little known missionary in 18th century New Jersey, influenced more missionary effort than anyone in history. Read and see why. Through Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Eliot is a book for those who want to know what it means to serve a loving and holy God. This is the story of her husband, Jim Eliot, and his companions who were brutally murdered by the Aca Indians and who in turn were used of God to spur the modern missionary effort to reach the world for Christ. Peace Child by missionary Don Richardson recounts the phenomenal story of how God used a poignant picture of treachery in a cannibalistic culture to transform a seemingly unreachable people with the love of Christ.