Top 10 Christian Books of All Time

Top 10 Christian Books of All Time

With the exception of the Bible, the inclusion of any title on a list like this is always going to be highly subjective. You may well have come across a Christian text that is little known but which spoke directly to you and shaped your faith. God gives us the wisdom we need at key moments in our lives and sometimes that wisdom comes in the form of a book. What I’ve tried to do here is produce a list of influential Christian books, not just current best sellers. Some of these books, because of the time at which they were written, will not be an easy read, but they are important because they have helped shape Christian thought and they are books that are still worth spending time with. I’ve opted for chronological order, but even if I hadn’t they’d be no prizes for guessing which book holds the number one slot.

1) The Bible

William Tyndale is credited with producing the first English translation of the Bible, however, he was executed by the Catholic authorities before he was able to publish a complete text. The influence of his work is profound and it is estimated that as much as 90% of the King James Bible is based on Tyndale’s translation. The Bible has subsequently been translated into over 700 languages and has sold in excess of 5 billion copies worldwide. The King James Bible, first published in 1611, is the most widely read English translation and is for many Christians, the Bible of choice to this day. There are now more than a 100 versions of the Bible available; they range from texts that strive for a close literal translation, such as the King James Bible to texts that seek to present the meaning of the Bible in accessible contemporary language. The most dramatic example of this approach is ‘The Message’, a translation by Eugene Peterson, published in segments between 1993 and 2002. In 2022, the most popular translations of the Bible in the U.S.A. were:  the New International Version; the English Standard Version; the New Living Translation; the King James Version and the Christian Standard Bible. One of the cheapest Bibles on the market is the ESV Economy Bible. It uses the English Standard Version and includes a 40-day reading plan. It can be purchased for as little as $5. View on Amazon

2) The Confessions of Saint Augustine

This extraordinary autobiography, written in Latin as a series of 13 books in 397, is one of the most influential works in the history of Christian theology. The philosopher Wittgenstein regarded it as ‘the most serious book ever written’. Saint Augustine was in his early forties and had just been appointed Bishop of Hippo when he wrote this brutally honest account of his youthful life of sin and his subsequent redemption. Not an easy read for the contemporary reader, however, the Penguin edition includes a helpful introduction and authoritative notes. View on Amazon 


3) The Imitation of Christ – Thomas à Kempis

Written between 1418 and 1427 and originally published anonymously, this book is the most widely read Christian devotional work after the Bible. If you’ve ever asked yourself “What would Jesus do?’ then you’re following a line of thought which is articulated in great detail in this book. The spiritual instructions of ‘The Imitation of Christ’ are divided into 4 books: ‘Helpful Counsels of the Spiritual Life’; ‘Directives for the Interior Life’; ‘On Interior Consolation’ and ‘On the Blessed Sacrament’. Is it a difficult read? Yes it is, but probably not as difficult as you might imagine. C.S. Lewis said that he read it ‘pretty much every day’. The ‘Modern Translation’ by Peter Northcutt strips away much of the archaic language of earlier translations so that you can concentrate on the ideas contained within this profoundly influential Christian classic. View on Amazon


4) Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan, published in 2 parts 1678 and 1684


The most famous Christian allegory ever written, Pilgrim’s Progress has provided the model for so much of the theological Christian fiction that was to follow. Translated into 200 languages and never out of print, it has exerted a huge influence on writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Mark Twain and John Steinbeck. The story operates as a kind of dream sequence, in which Pilgrim sets out from ‘City of Destruction’ (his earthly home) to ‘Celestial City’ (heaven). During his spiritual journey he meets memorable characters and passes through strange lands, all of which have a symbolic meaning. Although written in a plain style, which made the book accessible to the readers of his day, archaic language and grammatical construction, as well as some puzzling symbolism, can make this a challenging read for the contemporary reader, however there are a number of modern English versions on the market. View on Amazon


5) Mere Christianity - C. S. Lewis

Best known for his series of children’s books ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ C.S. Lewis is probably the most famous Christian author of the 20th Century. A scholar, author and Christian apologist, he wrote over 30 books, including the highly influential ‘Screwtape Letters’ and ‘The Problem of Pain’. ‘Mere Christianity’, based on a series of radio talks made in the 1940s and published in 1952, is a guide to the basics of Christian faith. It has been described as ‘ perhaps as outstanding an example of a lucid and intelligent presentation of the rational and moral case for Christian belief as we are ever likely to see.’ C. S. Lewis had the ability to make complicated arguments accessible by means of his humorous and direct writing, which tackles popular objections to Christianity with reasoned argument. Cited by many public figures as a strong influence on their conversion to Christianity, “Mere Christianity’ was voted the best book of the 20th Century by Christianity Today, in 2000. View on Amazon

6) The Case for Christ - Lee Strobel 1998

Former award winning editor of the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel, set out to apply his journalistic skills to an in depth exploration of the historical reality of Jesus. In ‘The Case for Christ’ he cross examines a dozen experts, all specialists in their field, and asks probing questions which seek to uncover the evidence that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Starting out from the perspective of an atheist, Lee takes the reader with him on his spiritual journey, during the course of which he finds his skepticism transformed into belief by the overwhelming weight of historical and archaeological evidence. His book has touched the hearts of millions of Christians and was made into a film in 2017. View on Amazon


7) The Purpose Driven Life - Rick Warren 2002

Rick Warren is an American Baptist evangelical Christian pastor, as well as being an author he is also founder of the Saddleback Church. He has been named as one of ‘100 most influential people in the world’, and one of ’15 People who make America Great’. ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ has been translated into more than 85 languages and has sold somewhere around 50 million copies worldwide. The book is essentially a daily Bible study, designed to be read in 40 days. Described as ‘a road map for your spiritual journey’, it addresses such questions as: Why am I alive? Does my life matter? and What on earth am I here for? View on Amazon


8) Jesus Calling - Sarah Young 2004

What makes this devotional text unique and rather daring is that Sarah Young chose to write the entries in the voice of Jesus. There is an entry for each day of the year and in her introduction Sarah Young explains how they should be used. ‘ The devotions are meant to be read slowly, preferably in a quiet place, with your Bible open.’ Christians have responded enthusiastically to ‘Jesus Calling’, which has sold 30 million copies worldwide and is frequently cited as a source of comfort and inspiration. View on Amazon

9) The Shack - William P Young 2007

A publishing phenomena, The Shack, originally written for the author’s children and close friends, was turned down by 26 publishers before it was self-published by the family. Something about this story caught the popular imagination and in 2008 it became the top selling fiction and audio book in America. It has sold over 20 million copies and in 2017 it was made into a film. The story has been compared to a contemporary Pilgrim’s Progress and emphasizes God’s love and the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. View on Amazon


10) Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist - John Piper (Revised edition 2011)

John Piper is a New Testament scholar, Baptist Calvinist theologian, pastor and author of over 50 books. Many readers rate ‘Desiring God’ as his most important book, some arguing that it is ‘one of the most important books written in the last 100 years.’  It offers a dramatically different perspective on how to relate to God, arguing that ‘delight is a duty’. ‘Constantly drawing on scripture, Piper shows why pursuing maximum joy is essential to glorifying God.’ Greeted with great enthusiasm by thousands of Christian readers, the book has been hailed as a theological masterpiece. View on Amazon



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