One of the books that most deeply affected my faith

medium_5438459663

The last little while I’ve been talking a lot about the relationship between books and the Christian faith. A little while ago, I shared five books I believe new Christians should read as well as five four and a half that I shouldn’t have read as a new Christian. Clearly, I believe books and reading are really important to our growth as Christians. (And I think God does too, since He reveals Himself in a book and all…)

So a few days ago, I asked friends and followers on Twitter about what book, outside the Bible, had the most profound impact on their faith. There were some pretty terrific answers—The Pilgrim’s Progress, Valley of Vision, Christianity and Liberalism… Even a couple of newer books like Note to Self got a mention!

I’ve been thinking about this question since I asked it—partly because it’s one of those questions that you don’t really think about until you have a reason to. What, of the tens, hundreds, or thousands of books you’ve read in your lifetime, are the ones that made the biggest impact. Of all the books I’ve had the opportunity to read, only one really jumps out at me as being a true game-changer.

What’s interesting is it’s not a book about a theological concept or anything like that. It’s a book about a person, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson. I read this book shortly after it was released (though I don’t recall why I wanted to read it in the first place!). It’s the story of Tom Carson, a pastor and church planter whose mission field was la belle province—Quebec. He wrote no books. He received few accolades. He was just an “ordinary” pastor, with the same insecurities and doubts about his own ministry that so many of us have.

But the image that still sticks in my head is his deep dependence upon the Lord:

I went looking for Dad after the morning service to entice him to come and play the piano while the rest of us sang or played instruments. He was not where he usually was. I found him in his study, the door not quite closed. He was on his knees in front of his big chair, tears streaming down his face, as he interceded with God for the handful of people to whom he had just preached. I remember some of their names to this day. (Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, 80)

You get this sense that when Carson prayed, he prayed as though the Lord really is sovereign—that He must intervene for the lives of Carson’s hearers to be transformed. Because He must. That’s something that keeps coming back to me, again and again, particularly as one who often struggles in my own prayer life, feeble and half-hearted as it sometimes is. God is bigger than my weaknesses, but He is pleased to use me in my weakness.

Your turn: what’s a book that most profoundly impacted your faith?


photo credit: gioiadeantoniis via photopin cc

Get new content delivered to your inbox

  • Jonathan Dennis

    One that jumps out in my personal journey was “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Phillip Yancey. I didn’t necessarily agree with everything espoused in the book, but I think it was the first book that really challenged me to look at Jesus as a person and thus to look at his love for me in a very personal light.

  • Steve Stutzman

    I agree. This is a great book.

  • Carsten Thomsen

    Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor sounds great. Reminds me of a novel I read recently that could interest you: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

    My choice: Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I have gone back to this one many times, and know sections of it almost by heart. Profound writing about our fellowship with each other in Christ, about meditation, confession, prayer, solitude.

    Another one would be Issues Facing Christianity Today by John Stott. I think it has shaped my thinking like no other book. It’s a little dated in places by now, but a recent revised edition helped that somewhat.

  • Pingback: One of the books that most deeply affected my faith | A disciple's study