The 12 Best Christian Books You Should Read In 2021

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I want to do something a little different with this post. Much of what I write is inspired by something that I have read, watched, or have listened to. So, I want to highlight some of the best Christian books I have read. Many of which have resulted in a blog post you might have read on this site.

This list is in no particular order, I’m not ranking them. If it’s on this list I have read it and it made an impact on my faith and life. This isn’t a list of the best Christian books of all time, this is more of a personal list that I hope will give you some ideas of what to read.

Best Christian Books I have Read

Maybe you are thinking, well I’m not much of a reader. Yeah, me neither. Well, at least not naturally. Reading for me is more of a discipline than a natural passion. I’ve learned to love and appreciate it, but it’s something that didn’t come naturally to me. But it is something that has brought tremendous growth in my life and faith. And over time it’s become something I enjoy doing. 

I say that to encourage you if it’s been a while since you’ve read a book, maybe pick one up. It’s a great way to learn and grow your faith. Plus you can always get the audiobook if you really hate reading. 

Alright, let’s jump into the best Christian books I have read.

1. Between Two Trees by Shane Wood

This book was written by a former professor of mine, Shane Wood. This book talks about the tragedy of sin and the mission of redemption that Jesus undertook. It’s a really good book that I would highly recommend. It’s a great book to kick off this list of best Christian books I have read.

It’s influenced several of the posts I’ve written, most notably: What Is Sin (why it’s more than missing the mark)

Best Christian Books Description: 
The problem of Eden is much worse than you thought, but the solution is much better than you could have ever imagined.

Between Two Trees reveals that the real tragedy of Eden is a union with death, a union that produces division and despair. Life isn’t lived under Eden’s tree of life or beneath the healing leaves of the tree in the New Jerusalem. It is lived between them. And between these two trees, life is hard. In spite of this tragedy, Between Two Trees will challenge you to embrace hope, love, and the beauty of reconciliation at the true tree of life: the cross of Calvary. 

By exploring the problem of Eden and the power of the cross, Shane Wood calls us to walk on a path to transformation, a path to union with God. The book journey ends under the shade of the tree of life in the New Jerusalem with God s unfinished creation now complete. Yes, Eden, but more importantly, you. The unfinished creation in us.

Buy it here: Between Two Trees by Shane J. Wood

2. Skeletons In God’s Closet By Joshua Ryan Butler

Hell is probably one of those topics you dread being asked about. It can seem like God’s dirty secret, his skeletons in the closet. This book pulls the bones out into the open to exchange popular caricatures for the beauty and power of the real thing. What we thought were skeletons aren’t really at all. Rather what this book discovers is that God is good in his very bones. In what he does and who he is.

If you are like me and have questioned the traditional view of hell and want a better picture of what is going on, check out this book! This book is easily one of the best Christian books I have read.

This book has inspired several posts, for more check out: Rethinking The Traditional View Of Hell

Best Christian Books Description: 
Is God a sadistic torturer? Coldhearted judge? Genocidal maniac? 
Unfortunately, our popular caricatures often make him out to be.There are some questions no Christian wants to be asked. Many today believe hell, judgment, and holy war are “skeletons in God’s closet,” tough topics that, if looked at closely, would reveal a cruel, vindictive tyrant rather than a good and loving God. And we aren’t comfortable with the answers we’ve been given.

“How can a loving God send people to Hell?”
“Isn’t it arrogant to believe Jesus is the only way to God?”
“Why is there so much violence in the Old Testament?”

In this book, we’ll pull these bones out into the open to exchange popular caricatures for the beauty and power of the real thing. We’ll discover these topics were never really skeletons at all . . . but proclamations of a God who is good “in his very bones,” not just in what he does, but in who he is. We’ll fling the wide the closet door and sing loudly, boldly, and clearly: God is good and coming to redeem his world.

Buy it here: Skeletons In God’s Closet

3. Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson

This book took me a while to get through. Not because it was boring, rather because there was SO much packed into every sentence. Curt Thompson is a psychiatrist who unpacks shame from a theological and neurobiological point of view. It’s a very unique and helpful way to view shame and how it effects our lives. 

Even though I failed almost all the sciences in high school I still found this book a great read! 

I wrote blog post inspired by this book, you can read it here: What The Bible Says About Shame

Best Christian Books Description: 
We’re all infected with a spiritual disease. Its name is shame. Whether we realize it or not, shame affects every aspect of our personal lives and vocational endeavors. It seeks to destroy our identity in Christ, replacing it with a damaged version of ourselves that results in unhealed pain and brokenness. But God is telling a different story for your life.

Psychiatrist Curt Thompson unpacks the soul of shame, revealing its ubiquitous nature and neurobiological roots. He also provides the theological and practical tools necessary to dismantle shame, based on years of researching its damaging effects and counseling people to overcome those wounds. Thompson’s expertise and compassion will help you identify your own pains and struggles and find freedom from the lifelong negative messages that bind you. Rewrite the story of your life and embrace healing and wholeness as you discover and defeat shame’s insidious agenda.

Buy it here: The Soul Of Shame by Curt Thompson, MD

4. What’s So Amazing About Grace By Philip Yancey

I’ll be honest… I could easily fill this list of best Christian books with Philip Yancey. They have been my favorite to read and made a huge impact on my faith. If you only read one of his books, you HAVE to read this one. Yancey examines the true grace that is shocking and scandalous. Grace that shakes our conventions with its insistence on getting close to sinners and touching them with mercy and hope. It forgives the unfaithful spouse, the racist, the child abuser. It loves today’s AIDS-ridden addict as much as the tax collector of Jesus’ day. What makes this book so powerful is not just the insight Yancey offers, but also the stories he tells. He goes and meets with the people that have given and received this scandalous grace.

If I had to rank this books, this would be towards the top of the list of best Christian books I have read.

Best Christian Books Description: 
Grace is the church’s great distinctive. It’s the one thing the world cannot duplicate, and the one thing it craves above all else–for only grace can bring hope and transformation to a jaded world.

In What’s So Amazing About Grace? award-winning author Philip Yancey explores grace at street level. If grace is God’s love for the undeserving, he asks, then what does it look like in action? And if Christians are its sole dispensers, then how are we doing at lavishing grace on a world that knows far more of cruelty and unforgiveness than it does of mercy?

Buy it here: What’s So Amazing About Grace

5. Subversive Sabbath by A.J. Swodoba

This was one of the most challenging books I have read. I’m terrible at taking a true rest. I can take the day off, no problem. But actually resting that day is another story. This book really challenged me to evaluate my life and to actually find time to rest. What I loved about this book was that it mixes the theology of sabbath with the practicality of how to rest in our modern world. 

So far I haven’t written anything about this book, but it’s been one of the most personally challenging books which is why it made my list of best Christian books.

Best Christian Books Description: 
We live in a 24/7 culture of endless productivity, workaholism, distraction, burnout, and anxiety–a way of life to which we’ve sadly grown accustomed. This tired system of “life” ultimately destroys our souls, our bodies, our relationships, our society, and the rest of God’s creation. The whole world grows exhausted because humanity has forgotten to enter into God’s rest.

This book pioneers a creative path to an alternative way of existing. Combining creative storytelling, pastoral sensitivity, practical insight, and relevant academic research, Subversive Sabbath offers a unique invitation to personal Sabbath-keeping that leads to fuller and more joyful lives. A. J. Swoboda demonstrates that Sabbath is both a spiritual discipline and a form of social justice, connects Sabbath-keeping to local communities, and explains how God may actually do more when we do less. He shows that the biblical practice of Sabbath-keeping is God’s plan for the restoration and healing of all creation.

Buy it here: Subversive Sabbath by A.J. Swoboda

6. Mere Christianity By C.S. Lewis

What good would a list of best Christian books be without at least one book by C.S. Lewis? In this classic Lewis examines the common ground that we have as Christians and delivers a powerful apologetic as to why we should believe. I’m sure many of you have read this book. But if you haven’t do yourself a favor and get it today! While on this C.S Lewis kick, let me also recommend The Screwtape Letters.

Not only is this on my list of best Christian books, this is one of the all time list of best Christian books.

Best Christian Books Description: 
In the classic Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, the most important writer of the 20th century, explores the common ground upon which all of those of Christian faith stand together. Bringing together Lewis’ legendary broadcast talks during World War Two from his three previous books The Case for ChristianityChristian Behavior, and Beyond PersonalityMere Christianity provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear this powerful apologetic for the Christian faith.

Buy it here: Mere Christianity

7. The Cost Of discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Drawing from the Sermon on the Mount, Bonhoeffer examines the difference between cheap grace and costly grace. Here’s the best summary I found: “The Cost of Discipleship is a compelling statement of the demands of sacrifice and ethical consistency from a man whose life and thought were exemplary articulations of a new type of leadership inspired by the Gospel, and imbued with the spirit of Christian humanism and a creative sense of civic duty.” This book was originally written in German and then translated to English. The book doesn’t read as smoothly as others, but it’s well worth the effort.

This book is a classic and deserves to be on any list of best Christian books.

Best Christian Books Description: 
One of the most important theologians of the twentieth century illuminates the relationship between ourselves and the teachings of Jesus 

What can the call to discipleship, the adherence to the word of Jesus, mean today to the businessman, the soldier, the laborer, or the aristocrat? What did Jesus mean to say to us? What is his will for us today? Drawing on the Sermon on the Mount, Dietrich Bonhoeffer answers these timeless questions by providing a seminal reading of the dichotomy between “cheap grace” and “costly grace.” “Cheap grace,” Bonhoeffer wrote, “is the grace we bestow on ourselves…grace without discipleship….Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the girl which must be asked for, the door at which a man must know….It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

The Cost of Discipleship is a compelling statement of the demands of sacrifice and ethical consistency from a man whose life and thought were exemplary articulations of a new type of leadership inspired by the Gospel, and imbued with the spirit of Christian humanism and a creative sense of civic duty.

Buy it here: The Cost Of Discipleship

8. Generation Z Unfiltered by Tim Elmore

If you have kids, work with kids, oversee younger employees, or just want to understand this next generation you need to read this book. Tim Elmore has done some incredible generational studies that I have found so beneficial. This book is no different. It’s a great read that has unique and helpful insights into the youngest generation. Seriously, buy this book. 

While not overtly Christian, but it’s a book every Christian should read which is why it made it on this list of best Christian books I have read.

Best Christian Books Description: 
This generation of students who have grown up in the 21st century are the most social, the most empowered, and also the most anxious youth population in human history. If you are struggling to connect with and lead them, you are not alone.

The latest research presented in this book, however, illuminates a surprising reality: The success of the next generation doesn’t depend entirely on them. Their best chance of success starts when adults choose to believe in them, challenge them, and walk with them through the nine greatest challenges today’s youth will face. 

For their sake, and for the future success of our world, it’s time we started seeing generation Z – unfiltered.

Buy it here: Generation Z Unfiltered by Tim Elmore

9. People To Be Loved by Preston Sprinkle

We, the church, have severely alienated the LGBTQ+ community from Jesus. We told them that their sin disqualifies them from Jesus. While ignoring that it’s possible to stand on the truth in a loving manner. That is, after all, what Jesus did. Preston Sprinkle does just that in this book, better than I’ve seen anyone else do on this topic. He breaks down what the Bible actually says and what the implications are for us today. 

I think every Christian out to read this book, which is why it’s on my list of best Christian books.

Best Christian Books Description: 
Christians who are confused by the homosexuality debate raging in the US are looking for resources that are based solidly on a deep study of what Scripture says about the issue. In People to Be Loved, Preston Sprinkle challenges those on all sides of the debate to consider what the Bible says and how we should approach the topic of homosexuality in light of it.

In a manner that appeals to a scholarly and lay-audience alike, Preston takes on difficult questions such as how should the church treat people struggling with same-sex attraction? Is same-sex attraction a product of biological or societal factors or both? How should the church think about larger cultural issues, such as gay marriage, gay pride, and whether intolerance over LGBT amounts to racism? How (or if) Christians should do business with LGBT persons and supportive companies?

Simply saying that the Bible condemns homosexuality is not accurate, nor is it enough to end the debate. Those holding a traditional view still struggle to reconcile the Bible’s prohibition of same-sex attraction with the message of radical, unconditional grace. This book meets that need.

Buy It here: People To Be Loved by Preston Sprinkle

10. When Helping Hurts By Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

Few books have changed the way I view helping people as much as this one. This book examines the way that we do outreach and sees the damage that approach has done. Rather than offering a quick fix this book focuses on solving the underlining cause. Poverty is much more than simply a lack of material resources, and it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve it. When Helping Hurts shows how some alleviation efforts, failing to consider the complexities of poverty, have actually (and unintentionally) done more harm than good.

This book should be on everybody’s list of best Christian books.

Best Christian Books Description: 
Poverty is much more than simply a lack of material resources, and it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve it. When Helping Hurts shows how some alleviation efforts, failing to consider the complexities of poverty, have actually (and unintentionally) done more harm than good. 

But it looks ahead. It encourages us to see the dignity in everyone, to empower the materially poor, and to know that we are all uniquely needy—and that God in the gospel is reconciling all things to himself. 

Focusing on both North American and Majority World contexts, When Helping Hurts provides proven strategies for effective poverty alleviation, catalyzing the idea that sustainable change comes not from the outside in, but from the inside out. 

Buy it here: When Helping Hurts

11. How To Find God by Tim Keller

This is actually 3 small books in one. Tim Keller looks that the three biggest milestones in our lives (birth, marriage, and death) and talks about the meaning both in the physical world and in our spiritual lives. I found these to be a short and quick read that dove right into the answers without the fluff. 

Really you could put any of Tim Keller’s books on a list of best Christian books. You can’t go wrong with any of his stuff!

Best Christian Books Description: 
Birth, marriage, and death are milestones in our lives in which we experience our greatest happiness and our deepest grief. And so it is profoundly important to understand how to approach these occasions with grace, endurance, and joy.

In On Birth, Timothy Keller helps us understand both physical and spiritual birth, as well as how baptism connects the two. In On Marriage, Timothy and Kathy Keller bring forty-five years of personal experience with marriage, as well as a deep understanding of God’s resources in the Bible, to teach us how to begin and nourish a marriage. And in a culture that does its best to deny death, On Death teaches us about facing death with the resources of faith from the Bible. With wisdom and compassion, Keller shares the Bible’s alternative to despair and denial.

Short and powerful, these three books give us the tools to better understand the meaning of birth, marriage, and death within God’s vision of life.

Buy It Here: How To Find God: On Birth, On Marriage, On Death by Tim Keller

12. Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning

I’ll admit, I’m a little behind the times on this one, it was released quite some time ago. I’ve always heard a lot about Brennan Manning but never actually read any of his books. After picking up this book I was quickly sucked in. It’s a candid and vulnerable look at what keeps us away from God’s love. I found this a great book to read and reflect on my own relationship with God. 

If you are like me and have never read Brennan Manning’s books check them out!

Best Christian Books Description: 
Is an impostor robbing you of God’s love?

We’ve bought into the lie that we are worthy of God’s love only when our lives are going well. If our families are happy or our jobs are meaningful, life is a success. But when life begins to fall through the cracks and embarrassing sins threaten to reveal our less-than-perfect identity, we scramble to keep up a good front to present to the world―and to God. We hide until we can rearrange the mask of perfection. Sadly, it is then that we wonder why we lack intimate relationships and a passionate faith.

All this time God is calling us to take the mask off and come openly to Him. He longs for us to know in the depth of our beings that He loves us and accepts us as we are. When we are our true selves, we can finally claim our identity as God’s child―Abba’s child―and experience His pure pleasure in who we are. Brennan Manning encourages us to let go of the impostor lifestyle and freely accept our belovedness as a child of the heavenly Father. In Him there is life.

Buy it here: Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning 

Next Up On My To Read List

That’s my list of the best Christian books I have read. I’m still working on a few more, here’s what’s next on my reading list:

Charis by Preston Sprinkle
I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
Reading Romans With Eastern Eyes by Jackson W.

Want more suggestions? Christianity Today offers a list of the best Christian books to read each year. I have found these lists to be of high quality and the books I have read of them have all been great. Here’s the list for 2020: Christianity Today’s 2020 Book Awards

Let’s hear from you! What are your top Christian books?

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Jeffery Curtis Poor
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