A Christian who doesn’t read great literature misses out on the invaluable insight of some of history’s brightest minds. But what better way to dive deeper into the thoughts of genius Christian writers than by reading classic pieces? After all, classic literature has stood the test of time, making it superior to newer works in many ways. Despite their initial widespread acclaim, many once-favorite works have now been forgotten, while the magnificence of others has finally been recognized. With that in mind, we could say that the river of time has swept away the trivial and kept the creations of genuine brilliance intact. Today, we bring that same brilliance closer to you through must-read books for Christians. Ones that are bound to change the way you think and perhaps even act.
There are countless literary pieces worth your attention. However, not all of them are as easy to understand by an average reader. They take time, for sure, but they also take effort. That’s why, in this article, we aim to introduce you to works that are simple to read and comprehend even by the most casual of readers. Yet, they are so thought-provoking that they can’t possibly be missed out on!
#1 The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
This literature wonder is a part of must-read books for Christians commonly taught in schools. It was so controversial at the time of its release that Czar Nicholas of Russia banned it. Vastly overlooked for over a hundred years, it finally gained the recognition it deserves mid-20th century.
The way the author sets the stage with three points of view is crucial to comprehending this story of guilt and redemption. At first glance, Puritan morality and the Romantic point of view, which placed emotional experience at the pinnacle of value, appear to be at odds with one another. Nevertheless, as the story progresses, a third viewpoint becomes apparent—a true Christian or Puritan perspective, at that. Furthermore, in the book’s penultimate chapter, one of the greatest climaxes in literature occurs, at which center is Reverend Dimmesdale, who finally finds salvation.
This masterpiece wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for Hawthorn’s incredible writing. His style, character portrayal, and vast descriptions made this book the treasure it is.
#2 Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
Any discussion of the greatest authors in history must include Dickens. His command of the English language and sharp humor make him a fascinating read. Every one of Charles Dickens’ sentences is a masterpiece in and of itself. Nonetheless, most readers pick up a novel primarily for the tale and storyline, and boy, does Dickens not disappoint! His novels’ examinations of social justice, politics, press power, Christian virtue, and social interactions have stood the test of time and culture. And Great Expectations may be the finest starting place for new readers.
The novel is one of just a handful of Dickens’ works told from the first-person perspective, and it follows a young child named Pip as he matures morally and forms a Christian worldview throughout the story. Pip’s awakening to his sinful nature, the temptation to pride, and ultimate humbling and maturing are valuable experiences for Christian readers. Although Dickens’ religious beliefs are not as obviously displayed in Great Expectations as in Christian fiction today, Christian truth is subtly present from the beginning to the end of the novel.
#3 Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
It’s common to hear Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Anne, and Emily) written off as “for girls.” Yet, Austen published under a pseudonym, and the Bronte sisters published as men throughout their time, allowing readers to focus on the quality of the writing rather than the gender of the author. Although Jane Austen is more well-known, current readers may find more in common with the Bronte sisters. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, is one of the must-read books for Christians that deserves special attention. At first glance, it may seem like a simple love story. However, it is so much more. It’s a coming-of-age story that follows Jane as she matures from a kid to an adult in similar ways to Dickens’ Great Expectations.
Both male and female Christian readers will be encouraged by Jane’s example of unwavering loyalty and virtue. Jane Eyre’s transformation into a personification of a Christian worldview is powerful, but Charlotte Bronte’s novel shines when she shows how that viewpoint came to be. At the end of the book, Jane Eyre has matured quite a bit from the child she was at the beginning. Finally, as they journey through the protagonist’s life, Christian readers are bound to have their faith tested and, ultimately, reinforced.
#4 The Death of Ivan Ilych, Leo Tolstoy
If you want to pick up a new Christian book, we encourage you to add this one to your list. This literary wonder is excellent for anyone seeking short but impactful reads. It’s not even a book, per se, but rather, a novella with approximately 60 pages. If you want to see how utterly Christian a piece of fiction can be, go no further than this work of art! The plot revolves around the main character’s existence and eventual demise. We could go as far as to say that the picture of Ivan’s society, with its superficial values—one that Ivan himself upholds until an accident changes his life—is, unfortunately, reflective of contemporary culture.
Like the Bible, this work cuts straight to the heart of the matter, and its criticism of contemporary society is without peer. At the very end, the protagonist finds redemption, reminiscent of Hester Prynne’s transformation in The Scarlet Letter.
#5 The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan
The Pilgrim’s Journey is one of the best-selling books of all time. It embraces allegory, which was not a familiar genre in Christian fiction at the time of writing. In fact, the book opens with Bunyan apologizing for using allegoric and fantastic elements to explore theological truth. However, despite the author’s initial misgivings, the story has since challenged and enlightened innumerable readers.
The allegory used may seem obsolete in light of modern sensibilities. After all, this book was first published in 1678. However, its appeal lies in its seeming simplicity and capacity to give concrete expression to profound spiritual truth. This is partly why this piece is among the must-read books for Christians. By reading this impactful book, those willing to be patient and adapt to the older style and language will gain new insights into Christianity and realize what seeking God actually means.
Author Bio: Hannah Jones is a full-time writer at WP Full Care. She has a great passion for reading and prefers diving into the world of classics rather than contemporary literature. She’s currently writing her novel set up on Christian beliefs, hoping to pierce the hearts of many.