Gift Ideas: 8 Great Books that Rocked My World

Gift Books for Christians

Wondering what to give that Christian friend or family member who shares your passion for loving God with your mind as well as your emotions? Last year, I featured gift books for both skeptics and believers. This year, I’m focusing in on gifts for your Christian brothers and sisters that will help them grow as ambassadors and disciples of Jesus.

You might consider putting one of these on your wish list if it isn’t already on your shelf. Pick one up for your church library, pastor, Christian family member or friend. Here are 8 great books that rocked my world.

8 Great Books that Rocked my World

1. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul 

Why this rocks: It’s awesome devotional reading that brings spiritual formation and apologetics together. I first discovered this gem while working for J.P. Moreland during my undergrad days at Biola. Josh McDowell said, “This is more than just another Christian book. It is the wake-up call that the church needs today.” I agree. This even helps Christians get why we do what we do as defenders of the faith. I gave this to my dad one year and he was positively challenged by it.

Who will love this: Pretty much any Christian who wants to deepen their relationship with God and is willing to think hard about spiritual things. No apologetics training or experience necessary!

2. Koukl, Tactics: A Gameplan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

Why this rocks: It’s accessible, super-practical advice that anyone can get—from the high school kid on your list to the working adult.  This revolutionized my casual conversations with skeptics. Koukl’s tactics give believers the confidence to get out there are start talking to their friends about the faith. It’s one of the books I personally give as gifts to my Christian friends. I even made this required reading for my apologetics students at Western Seminary and William Jessup University!

Who will love this: Any Christian (high school and older) who talks about the faith on a regular basis. Or any believer who’s tired of not knowing what to say when religion or morality come up in a conversation. It’s an easy read that even new Christians will find extremely useful.

3. Habermas and Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

Why this rocks: It’s an excellent training guide to presenting historical evidence for the resurrection. It has helpful evidence charts and even comes with a video game to help you master the material (no joke)! The beauty of the minimal facts approach is that even people who don’t think the Bible is the Word of God still have to makes sense of the historical data. After I finished this book, I was inspired to read it again and master the material!

Who will love this: Ministry leaders. History buffs or college students. Christians who wonder if there’s any historical evidence for the resurrection. Anyone who regularly shares the gospel or wants to be more confident in talking about the resurrection with skeptics and seekers alike.

4. Russell, Playing with Fire: How the Bible Ignites Change in Your Soul 

Why this rocks: Because reading the Bible doesn’t have to be dry and boring! Russell shows you how to get the most out of each kind of book in the Bible and how to unlock the meaning of Scripture. These practical skills helped me connect with the Lord on a more emotional level, too. It opened my eyes to how an academic, informational reading is just the means to being spiritually formed by the living Word of God.

Who will love this: Bible study leaders, college students and any Christian that’s struggling with their Bible reading or spirituality going, “Is this all there is? Really?” This book is for anyone who isn’t afraid to dig deep into the Scriptures and discover truths that will transform their souls. Which should be all of us! Get it.

5. Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics

Why this rocks: 3 words: William. Lane. Craig. When I first read the 2nd edition, I didn’t understand half of it (especially the section on quantum physics) but I knew I had stumbled upon something huge. I was honored to study under Craig at Biola and see how well the faith can be defended—at the same level of scholarship as the most sophisticated arguments from skeptical philosophers, scientists or historians. This is a graduate-level text that defends the faith in the classical apologetic method.

Who will love this: Philosophically and scientifically-minded adults who are looking for a well-argued defense of Christian theism and real answers to the tough questions popularized by the so-called new atheists and other skeptics. Graduate students will also appreciate Craig’s depth and precision.

6. Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision 

Why this rocks: It’s logical, clear, has argument charts, and even pictures! You can easily use this for a class or study group. This material builds a positive case for God that’s strong enough to refute objections, too. It’s a great introduction to arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, the person of Jesus, the resurrection and a Christian response to religious pluralism. I made this required reading for my apologetics students at Western Seminary and William Jessup University!

Who will love this: College students, small group leaders, student ministries pastors, and most people who aren’t looking for the depth of Craig’s graduate-level presentation in Reasonable Faith.

7. Dyck, Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith. . .and How to Bring Them Back

Why this rocks: Dyck’s research gives you intel on 6 kinds of people who leave the church and the kinds of things that can help draw them closer to Jesus. You’ll know when to use apologetic arguments, when to just listen or even invite someone to join your church in a community service outreach. Many of my grad students found this extremely useful for their pastoral staff, elder boards, and churches. This is required reading for my apologetics students at Western Seminary!

Who will love this: Pastors, seminary students, elders and other church leaders will especially benefit from this. But any believer who knows people who left the church will find this helpful as well. It’s an easy read. No academic degrees required!

8. Habermas and Moreland, Beyond Death: Exploring the Evidence for Immortality

Why this rocks: It explores evidence for the afterlife via two of my favorite topics: The Resurrection of Jesus and Near Death Experiences (NDEs)! This inspired me to do a major paper on NDEs during my graduate studies in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola. It’s a fascinating field of study that brings hope even amidst personal loss and tragedy.

Who will love this: Intermediate readers who are philosophically or scientifically-minded; especially those who dialogue with skeptics or comfort grieving families. Some of the material can get technical, but the payoff is huge. This book rocked my world.

Note: Purchasing resources via the links on this page will help support my accessible apologetics ministry to the local church. Thank you for your support!

Listen to Greg Koukl read part of this blog post on the radio!

Greg Koukl is one of my apologetics influences.

Ever since I first heard him speak while I was in the M.A. Apologetics program at Biola University, his ministry at Stand to Reason has inspired and encouraged me to develop the knowledge, wisdom and character needed to be an effective ambassador of Jesus.

When I was a missionary in the Philippines, I’d burn the MP3s to CD and listen to the show (including ads for events in Hermosa Beach, CA) while driving around the streets of Manila!

His book, Tactics: A Gameplan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions, is definitely a must-read for everyday defenders of the faith and I’m happy to keep promoting it. Glad he noticed this blog post!


19 Responses to “Gift Ideas: 8 Great Books that Rocked My World”

  1. mike snyder November 25, 2011 7:31 PM

    GREAT LIST bro! Moreland and W.L.Craig are both big time influences in my faith and love for apologetics. Good stuff Maynard!!!

  2. Edgar November 26, 2011 9:24 AM

    I would definitely say that the Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel was a great little book.

  3. Apologetics Guy November 26, 2011 9:45 AM

    The Case for the Real Jesus is a good pick. Thanks for the comment, Edgar!

  4. Dan Rodger November 26, 2011 10:26 AM

    Without a Doubt by Kenneth Samples always seems to get forgotten but its a fantastic read on general apologetics issues. Great list by the way.

  5. Apologetics Guy November 26, 2011 11:18 AM

    Haven’t heard of that one. Will definitely check it out. Glad you liked my list. Thanks, Dan!

  6. Stephen Bedard November 28, 2011 6:18 AM

    Great list. I must confess I only own two of them and have only read one. My reading tastes are so wide that I am limited in how much straight apologetics I get around to reading.

    • Apologetics Guy November 28, 2011 7:40 AM

      Glad you like the list. Totally understand. Got a bunch of books in my to-read pile, as well. Waiting for the end of the semester so I can stop grading papers and start working on my books, too! Thanks for the comment, Stephen.

  7. Dan Guinn November 28, 2011 12:24 PM

    Everyone needs to read a little Schaeffer. In this area look at The Trilogy.

  8. Apologetics Guy November 28, 2011 1:17 PM

    Greg Koukl mentions each of the works in this trilogy a lot. I need to check this out. Thanks, Dan!

  9. Gabriel Pagel November 28, 2011 1:48 PM

    Idols for Destruction by Schlossberg

    I agree with you on Playing with Fire

  10. Taber's Truths Christian Blog November 30, 2011 12:02 PM

    Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness by Jerry Cook. To me it is the greatest book on a biblical philosophy of ministry that is out there. I have used it time and time again in the churches I have led both in home groups and teaching from the pulpit and seen people change from spectators to being the hands of Jesus to their communities. I highly recommend it!

    • Apologetics Guy November 30, 2011 12:17 PM

      Sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing this, Duke!

  11. Mike Thomas December 7, 2011 12:46 PM

    Two books that shaped and devloped my Christian thinking: Decision Making and the Will of God by Gary Friesen and The Gospel-Driven Church by Ian Stackhouse. The first helped me find my way through the confusion of ideas about God’s leading and the second describes church as it should be and helped me find a church where I could be real.

  12. Jennifer McLucas December 29, 2011 6:23 PM

    Wow! I am so excited about your book list, I just wish I’d found it sooner. My husband hasn’t read any of these yet and I think he’d enjoy them all. Thank you so much!

    • Apologetics Guy December 29, 2011 7:40 PM

      Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. Glad you’re a part of the CBC!

  13. Dottie Parish December 22, 2012 12:20 PM

    I loved your list as I’m an avid reader of Christian non-fiction. I have not read any of these though I heard William Craig Lane speak one time. So I may order one or two soon.

    One book that rocked me was Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God. Also, books by J Budziszewski – What We Can’t Not Know and he also has several for college students that are excellent. I’ve been giving them to my grandson.

    My book, Changing Churches: A View from the Pew is an easy to read book for those who might not read the above books and it includes some apologetics. My church is now giving my book to all new members as many come from other churches. Also, the elders studied an early version of it find ways to refresh the church. I’d like to send you a copy! All I need is your address to do so. Ramesh Richards has a copy already and commented to me about it.

    Merry Christmas!


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