Guest Post: Books to Help You Survive College with Your Faith Intact

Guest Post: Books to Help You Survive College with Your Faith Intact August 8, 2013

I’m pleased at last to present the final installment of this series on remaining faithful in your college years, from two Christian academics and philosophers I greatly respect, Douglas Groothuis and Sarah Geis. As with all guest posters, their opinions (and book recommendations in this case) are their own, and the title is mine. I’d encourage you to leave your own book recommendations in the comments.


Faithful Christianity in College, Part 3

By Douglas Groothuis and Sarah Geis  

In the first two parts of this series, we discussed twelve principles for wise Christian engagement in college. Many of these principles advised that you study and read books that will sharpen your mind and embolden your spirit. In this final installment, we have broken our recommended resources into what we hope are helpful categories. If you read on, you will find books under the headings of “The Christian Mind,” “Philosophy and Apologetics,” “Christianity and Culture,” “Biblical Studies and Theology,” “Other Religions,” and “Intelligent Design and Evolution.” As further resources, we have also recommended some excellent DVDs and websites. It is our hope that you will use this annotated bibliography to help increase your knowledge, bolster your faith, and prepare you to confidently go forth into the world proclaiming the Truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

1. The Christian Mind

Blamires, Harry. The Christian Mind. Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2005. This book is a modern classic.

Horner, David A. Mind Your Faith: A Student’s Guide to Living and Thinking Well. Downers Grove, IL: 2011.

Köstenberger, Andreas. Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Goes into clear, insightful, wise detail about how to develop into a virtuous Christian scholar.

Moreland, J.P. Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul. 2nd ed. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2012. Perhaps the best book of its kind, it defends the requirement for Christians to develop their minds for the cause of Christ.

_____. Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

Schall, James. The Life of the Mind: On the Joys and Travails of Thinking. Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2008.

Stott, John. Your Mind Matters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006. This essential short book is introductory, but rich and biblically rooted.

Williams, Clifford. The Life of the Mind: A Christian Perspective. Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2002. 

2. Philosophy and Apologetics

Apologetics Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007. This study Bible includes solid apologetics essays throughout and a large bibliography.

Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. Leicester, Eng: InterVarsity Press, 1987. A top-notch defense of the Gospels as trustworthy.

Groothuis, Douglas. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011. Rigorous yet highly readable, this book is essential reading for all budding and advanced Christian apologists (annotation written by Sarah).

_____. On Jesus. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003. Considers Jesus life and teaching in philosophical terms. Argues that Jesus was a philosopher.

_____. Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000. Critiques the claims of postmodernism in light of reason and Scripture.

Keener, Craig. Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (2 Vol.). Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.

Kokul, Gregory. Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009. This book is superb for developing a strategy for conversing with nonbelievers.

Moreland, J.P. Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1987. Superb higher-level apologetics.

Moreland, J.P., and William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003. An essential philosophy textbook from an evangelical perspective.

Pearcey, Nancy. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005. This book is especially strong in the area of Christianity and science.

Schaeffer, Francis. The God Who is There, 30th anniv. ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998. A modern gem of cultural apologetics.

_____. True Spirituality, 30th anniv. ed. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2001. Essentials of the spiritual life, biblically understood.

Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998. A solid Christian apologetics primer.

Sire, James. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 5th ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009. Essential reading for all Christians in (and out of) college. 

3. Christianity and Culture

Carson, D.A. Christ and Culture Revisited. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008.

_____. The Intolerance of Tolerance. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2013. Carson takes on a much-abused and misunderstood motto of the secular world.

Groothuis, Douglas. The Soul in Cyberspace. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997. An early attempt to interpret the meaning of the Internet and related technologies.

Guinness, Os. A Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype, and Spin. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000. An erudite but readable cry to a return to truth.

_____. God in the Dark: The Assurance of Faith Beyond a Shadow of Doubt. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1996. Doubt is something few Christians want to discuss, but Guinness wisely reasons through the issue in light of Scripture.

_____. Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005. On being a prophetic presence in culture.

Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Penguin Books, 1986. The best critique of TV ever written, and it still applies today to technologies beyond TV such as the internet. If you want to improve the way you study and think about culture, you must read this book.

Wells, David. The Courage to be Protestant: Truth-Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008. An abridged version of an earlier trilogy, this book is a superbly written and brilliantly reasoned critique of postmodern, Western Christianity.

4. Biblical Studies and Theology

Bock, Darrell, and Daniel Wallace. Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007.

Bowman, Robert, and J. Ed Komoszewski. Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2007.

Carson, D.A. Exegetical Fallacies. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1996. A modern classic about how to logically reason when reading the Bible, although the principles apply far beyond that.

Fee, Gordon, and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.

Green, Bradley, ed. Shapers of Christian Orthodoxy. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010. A series of essays about key leaders in church history, providing a solid introduction to the history of Christian ideas.

Hendricks, Howard G. Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2007.

Komoszewski, J. Ed, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace. Reinventing Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2006.

Köstenberger, Andreas, and Michael Kruger. The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture’s Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010. This book expertly challenges and refutes the popular theory that Christianity began with many different versions, and the most powerful version won and became “orthodoxy.”

Packer, J.I. Knowing God, 20th anniv. ed. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 1993. A brilliant, timeless work of devotional theology. Packer discusses the nature and character of God in a convicting, astute, and biblically sound manner.

Wilkens, Michael J., and J.P. Moreland, eds. Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995. 

5. Other Religions and Cults

Corduan, Winfried. Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions, 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2012.

Groothuis, Douglas. Are All Religions One? Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996. Booklet. Makes the salient argument that all religions are not one.

_____. Unmasking the New Age. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986.

Halverson, Dean, ed. Compact Guide to World Religions. Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers, 1996.

Martin, Walter. The Kingdom of the Cults, rev. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Bethany House Publishers, 2003.

Netland, Harold. Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith and Mission. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001. In a globalized world, we are surrounded by a cacophony of competing religions and ideas. This book helps to answer the challenge of pluralism (both the sociological fact and the philosophical position).

Rhodes, Ron. The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

6. Intelligent Design and Evolution

Behe, Michael. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006.

Dembski, William. The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

Johnson, Philip. Darwin on Trial, 20th anniv. ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010.

Meyer, Stephen. The Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. New York: HarperOne, 2009. More advanced reading, but well worth the effort.

Strobel, Lee. The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. A good introduction to the subject.

Wells, Jonathan. The Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong. Washington, DC: Regnery, 2002.

7. Intelligent Design DVDs

Darwin’s Dilemma, DVD. Directed by Lad Allen. La Mirada, CA: Illustra Media, 2010.

Expelled, DVD. Directed by Nathan Frankowski. BC, Canada: Premise, 2008. Demonstrates that critics of Darwinism are often discriminated against.

The Case for a Creator, DVD. Directed by Lad Allen. La Mirada, CA: Illustra Media, 2006.

The Privileged Planet, DVD. Directed by Lad Allen. La Mirada, CA: Illustra Media, 2010.

Unlocking the Mystery of Life, DVD. Directed by Lad Allen. La Mirada, CA: Illustra Media, 2010.

8. Web pages

Bible.Org. This is the home of the New English Translation of the  Bible, but also contains a vast array of helpful theology and biblical studies articles.

Denver Journal. This is the book review journal of Denver Seminary. You will find many reviews of books on philosophy and apologetics in the “Apologetics and Ethics” section.

Probe Ministries. A Christian research ministry which provides well-researched articles pertinent to college challenges.

Reasonable Faith. The web page of Christian philosopher,  William Lane Craig.

The Discovery Institute. A leading organization challenging  Darwinism and defending Intelligent Design.


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  • Not bad, but I’d very quickly add:
    1. Timothy Keller’s “The Reason for God” (an apologetics book the average person can read).
    2. Mitch Stokes’ “A Shot of Faith to the Head” (Alvin Plantinga’s philosophy applied to apologetics for the average reader.)
    3. The End of Our Search by Matthew Lee Anderson (A very good book on questions and the life of faith.)
    4. Timothy Keller’s “The Prodigal God” (a good little book about the Gospel)
    5. D.A. Carson’s “The God Who is There” (a good intro to the storyline of the Bible.)
    6. Kevin DeYoung’s “The Good News We Almost Forgot” (A concise little summary of theology and Christian life.)
    All of these are a bit more tackleable for the average Christian student who isn’t a philosophy or Bible major.

  • Patrick_Spens

    If the purpose of this reading list is in fact to help Christian college students retain their faith. I would strongly recommend removing any Intelligent Design books from your recommendations. Tying Christianity to objective falseness peddled by hacks and liars is a real good way to drive people away. After all if you were so very wrong about evolution, why would you be right about anything else?

    • AHH

      One or two of the ID materials on the list, like Michael Behe who falls in the theistic evolutionist wing of ID, are not totally without merit.
      But including deceitful works like Icons of Evolution and Expelled really undermines the authors’ apparent goal to lift up the value of “truth”.

  • AHH

    For those with more reflective minds, who see shades of gray rather than simple black-and-white (a skill college should cultivate), an indispensible and accessible little book is Daniel Taylor’s The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian and the Risk of Commitment.
    Those up to more advanced reading on similar lines could read Lesslie Newbigin’s Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship.

    For understanding and wrestling with postmodern thought (without throwing the baby out with the bathwater and retreating to Enlightenment modernism as some Christian books do), I’d recommend Middleton and Walsh, Truth is Stranger than it used to be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age.

    From the standpoint of this Christian in science, far healthier than the listed books would be Origins: Christian Perspectives on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design by Deborah and Loren Haarsma (two physics profs at Calvin College). And the Biologos website. And maybe Denis Alexander’s Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?.

    • betakappa19

      These are good additions as well, especially the books you recommend on science and faith. Denis Alexander’s Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? is excellent. His summary of the evidence for descent with modifications is impressive.

  • betakappa19

    Very nice list (except for the ID bit!). Though, I’m a bit puzzled at the exclusion of Plantinga’s “Warranted Christian Belief”.

  • MaryLouiseC

    It’s a great list, but I think there should be some books on evil and suffering since that is one of the greatest obstacles to many people’s faith. Therefore, I would include the following:

    Geisler’s If God, Why Evil?
    Carson’s How Long, O Lord?
    Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Monster?

    I would also include Lewis’ Miracles — shorter and much easier to read than Keener’s work, as fine as it is. And what about Bruce’s book on the reliability of the New Testament and Kaiser’s work on the reliability of the Old?

    I also think there needs to be some information on the resurrection. I would recommend Gary Habermas’ site and books for that.