SermonIndex Audio Sermons
Image Map
Discussion Forum : General Topics : Greatest Books of all Time

Print Thread (PDF)

Goto page ( 1 | 2 Next Page )

Joined: 2003/4/17
Posts: 124

 Greatest Books of all Time

Years ago, one of my mentors recommended that I check out a book called How to Read a Book by Mortimer J Adler. Since then I've read several of his other books.

Adler writes on philosophy, ethics, morality and religion, among other subjects. In his latest offering, How to Think about The Great Ideas, he deals with topics such as Darwinism, modern psychology and the existence of God.

He presents a really incredible case for the existence of God using a purely logical philosophical arguement. I think this arguement works well for those unbelievers who have a hard time accepting the concept of what we call "faith".

I would recommend this book to any believer who has trouble witnessing to people who are resistant to Christianity because they think they're too smart to believe.

The concept of The Great Ideas comes from a list of books Adler published some years ago which are considered to be the greatest books of western civilization.

I've taken from that list and other lists of great books I've found online and made up my own list of books I'd like to explore.

Here is a sample of the list I've compiled:

A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present by Howard Zinn
How to Read a Book by Mortimer J Adler
Dialogues by Plato
The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
The Confessions and The City of God by Augustine
The Critique of Practical Reason, and Other Ethical Treatises by Kant
Rules for the Direction of the Mind by Descartes
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by Locke
The Word of God and the Word of Man by Barth
The Nature and Destiny of Man by Reinhold Niebuhr
Problems of Knowledge and Freedom by Noam Chomsky
How Should We Then Live? by Francis Shaeffer
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard
The Odyssey by Homer
How to Think about The Great Ideas by Mortimer J Adler
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Paradise Lost by John Milton
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
The Robe by Lloyd C Douglas
Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan


 2003/8/26 8:30Profile

Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: Greatest Books of all Time

Very interesting, these you have mentioned.
Two that I have read:
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
(read the trilogy in junior high along with a bunch of my buddy's and it wasn't a class assignment...just a bunch of 'stoners', long before being a Christian, but the elements are in there, great series!)

Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
(MUST read!)

Someday hope to delve deeper into some of these titles you have mentioned, all for mind expansion as long is it is "the mind of Christ."

Mike Balog

 2003/8/26 10:12Profile

Joined: 2003/4/17
Posts: 124

 Re: Greatest Books of all Time

Well, one of the men who has had a profound impact on my spiritual development reads at least 10 books a week.

He reads alot of things about modern youth culture, christian and non-christian, watches all the latest movies, and even reads Rolling Stone Magazine.

His skills at being an effective youth communicator are increased the more he knows about anything and everything in the modern world.

Here are some interesting titles I found today:

Intellectuals Don't Need God, and Other Myths of the Modern World by Alister McGrath

Christianity is Ridiculous: 80 Red-Hot Reasons for Not Believing a Word of It by John Allan Gus Eyre

Letters from a Skeptic by Dr. Gregory A. Boyd & Edward K. Boyd

Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World by Timothy Phillips

How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Francis August Schaeffer

The Mind on Fire: A Faith for the Skeptical and Indifferent by Blaise Pascal

Men of Science Men of God: Great Scientists of the Past Who Believed the Bible by Henry Madison Morris

No God but God: Breaking With the Idols of Our Age by Os Guinness

A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews With an Absolutist by Peter Kreeft

Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science & Theology by William A. Dembski, Michael J. Behe

I would recommend Shaeffer and Guinness to anyone who has had a hard time dealing with skeptics and people who just refuse to believe in anything.

In Luke 2:52 it says that Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men. Now, his divine wisdom could not admit any need of increase, but as in other things, this is written as an example to us. At thirteen years of age, Jesus was in the temple debating learned men, and they were amazed at his wisdom.

This is from Matthew Henry's Commentary:

The third day they found him in the temple, in some of the apartments belonging to the temple, where the doctors of the law kept, not their courts, but their conferences rather, or their schools for disputation; and there they found him sitting in the midst of them (Luk_2:46), not standing as a catechumen to be examined or instructed by them, for he had discovered such measures of knowledge and wisdom that they admitted him to sit among them as a fellow or member of their society.

This is an instance, not only that he was filled with wisdom (Luk_2:40), but that he had both a desire to increase it and a readiness to communicate it.

~Matthew Henry


 2003/8/27 2:56Profile

Joined: 2003/8/5
Posts: 75
Livermore, CA


You forgot the Bible... :)

Smyth Wigglesworth (just typing that name seems weird to me) refused to read any books but the Bible. I understand his fervent desire for God and for only God. I personally don't want to fill my head with too many books that have veiled references to God or christian "concepts", but books that spurn me to greater heights of faith and desire for him. Anything else is mere entertainment, in my opinion.


J. Wilson

 2003/8/28 4:07Profile

Joined: 2003/5/12
Posts: 573


"In Luke 2:52 it says that Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men. Now, his divine wisdom could not admit any need of increase, but as in other things, this is written as an example to us. At thirteen years of age, Jesus was in the temple debating learned men, and they were amazed at his wisdom."

And in Luke 2:46-47 it gives us some insight into how Jesus did this.

"Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, [b]both listening to them and asking them questions[/b]. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers."
I suppose you can call that debate but what I see is a very humble young man inquiring of the supposed experts about the things of God, and questioning them where things didn't seem to match up with his understanding. He answered them by asking questions. I think that is the most beautiful form of conversation. ANd I have been trying to develop it. It takes a lot of undoing from the process that we are used to of just spewing out information that backs up arguments that we have learned.

I don't think we gain wisdom from debate but only from humble debate (kind of like how Ravenhill says something like "the Lord doesn't answer prayer, He answers desperate prayer"). For the Lord teaches the humble His ways.

ANd also, if Jesus "advanced in wisdom" it seems that while there may not have been "need of increase" there was "room for increase." Right?

 2003/8/28 12:45Profile

Joined: 2003/3/15
Posts: 138


Jewish debate was typically constructed in a question format, unlike ours today that is a series of statements. It is a rhetorical device that is very powerful.

His questions were likely very pointed, considering his audience and his later ministry. You mention that there was "room for increase"; that is very true -- Jesus came to earth as a man, and like all men needed to learn and had "need of increase."

 2003/8/28 14:28Profile

Joined: 2003/4/8
Posts: 29


My list would have to include:

_Lectures on Revival_, by Charles Grandison Finney

_Systematic Theology_, by Finney

_A Plain Account of Christian Perfection_, by John Wesley

_Pilgrim's Progress_, by John Bunyan

_The Practice of the Presence of God_, by Brother Lawrence

 2003/8/29 23:30Profile

Joined: 2003/4/17
Posts: 124

 Re: Greatest Books of All Time

Yes, ACTIVE listening and asking questions is how we best learn and come to understand. Most of us can hear, but are we really listening?

Yes, I love Charles Finney's works, especially the way he explains the similarities and differences in legal justification and God's justification - amazing stuff that will really make you stop and think and will put the fear of God in you!

John Wesley's writings on christian perfection remind me alot of stuff I've read by Watchman Nee and Andrew Murray concerning sanctification. They are very good as well.

I'm reading something right now called Twelve Great Philosophers: A Historical Introduction to Human Nature by Wayne P Pomerleau. It's got some good stuff from Augustine, Basil, Athanasius, Ambrose, and several other notable philosopher/theologians of the middle ages.

I'm also reading a book entitled Human Nature: Opposing Viewpoints by Mark Ray Schmidt. Included in this text are ideas from CS Lewis, Blaise Pascal, and even the apostle Paul, who is also included in Pomerleau's book as one of the greatest thinkers of all time.

Augustine essentially restates the great theme of Proverbs in saying that the getting of wisdom is extremely important and that the study of theology is the highest of all branches of knowledge that anyone can pursue.


 2003/9/4 17:37Profile

Joined: 2010/3/16
Posts: 42


The greatest book I've ever read!!! (apart from the bible) "Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians" by J Gilchrist Lawson (1911)

Download the PDF at -

This book changed my life! Its the short biographies of men and women who were dramatically used by God! People like Wesley, Finney, Moody :)

WARNING: Many new additions of this book are only half or a third of the size of the original... :(

 2011/8/18 22:30Profile

Joined: 2004/4/27
Posts: 431
New York

 Re: Greatest Books of all Time

Uhmm. well uh,

Mad Magazine huh,

ummm, guess, i guess uh,

ah, probly doesn't count

well er, ok ummm.

Arthur Biele

 2011/8/18 23:38Profile

Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Affiliate Disclosure | Privacy Policy