Christian faith is about lives lived in relation to the eternal and transformed by love - following the example and teaching of Jesus Christ. It is not just about ideas. However, how we live is profoundly affected by what we believe. For centuries, people with the greatest minds and the deepest spiritual insights have grappled with these deep questions. We can only benefit from drawing on the resulting accumulated wisdom.
There is a vast amount of literature and, increasingly, online material - for every level - which we can read, see, and hear.
You will quickly find out that whatever your question, you are not alone: someone has already engaged with it and others are doing so still.
A Home Group is a good way to discuss your thoughts and listen to others:
The Alpha Course:
The Church of England:
Gresham College Lectures:
For a range of websites, containing information and comment from around the worldwide Anglican communion, click HERE
Anything by the Rev Prof Keith Ward is worth reading. This is an excellent introduction to Christian belief and its development:
Christianity - A Guide for the Perplexed.
SPCK. ISBN-13: 978-0281058969
This book sets out three major types of different Christian interpretation in relation to the principle areas of belief:
Christianity - A Short Introduction.
Oneworld. ISBN-13: 978-1851682294
Tom Wright was Bishop of Durham and is now an academic. He writes clearly and directly:
SPCK. ISBN 13: 9780281064762
Sparky and quirky:
Christianity for Dummies.
Wiley. ISBN 0-7645-4482-9
More of an experience than a book, Velvet Elvis by American evangelist, Rob Bell, is breathless, staccato, episodic - enjoyable, accessible, and inspiring.
VELVET ELVIS: Repainting the Christian Faith
Zondervan, ASIN: B00C6OPEZE
The Rev Prof Alister McGrath has a great ability to express complex ideas straightforwardly. This book is quite long but outstandingly good. It need not be read straight through. There is an accompanying "Reader" with selections from important Christian writers.
Christian Theology - An Introduction.
Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1444335149
The Christian Theology Reader.
Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0470654842
An annotated Bible is invaluable. This is excellent and is the version (NRSV - New Standard Revised Version) used in Glapthorn Church.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible.
OUP. ISBN 978-0195288834
St Peter's, Oundle uses the NIV (New International Version). There is a useful single-volume "companion" written by the Rev Prof Alister McGrath:
The NIV Bible Handbook.
Hodder & Stoughton.
Easy to follow, short handbooks on how best to read and understand the Bible by Fr Etienne Charpentier:
How to Read the Old Testament.
SCM Press. ISBN 0-334-02057-3
How to Read the New Testament
SCM Press. ISBN 0-334-02056-5
Well-known author, former nun, Karen Armstrong has written about the development of the Bible:
The Bible - The Biography.
Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1843543978
The Rev Prof Keith Ward on ways to read and interpret the Bible:
What the Bible Really Teaches.
SPCK. ISBN 0-281-05680-3
For a magisterial, readable one-volume history of Christianity (which was the basis of television series), see Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch:
Christianity - The First Three Thousand Years.
Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-311869-5
SCIENCE AND RELIGION
One of the most stubbonly false ideas to have gained contemporary traction is that science and religion are inconsistent with each other or, even, that science has "disproved" religion. These are just some of the books which refute this and show that God is not a "God of the gaps", clinging on in those shrinking spaces which have not, yet, been explained by science.
The Rev Prof Alister McGrath began his academic career researching molecular biophysics. He has written extensively about the relationship between science and religion. This is an easily read introduction:
Science and Religion - A New Introduction.
Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-8791-6
Prof John C Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, is a Christian. Unsurprisingly, he answers the question of the book's title, "No":
God's Undertaker - Has Science Buried God?
Lion. ISBN 978-0-7459-5371-7
The Rev Prof John Polkinghorne, Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University and an ordained priest in the Church of England:
Theology in the Context of Science.
SPCK. ISBN 978-0-281-05916-4
The Rev Prof Keith Ward's refutation of "scientific" atheism:
God, Chance, and Necessity. Oneworld.
ANSWERS TO THE 'NEW' ATHEISTS
The starting point by Richard Dawkins:
The God Delusion.
Transworld. ISBN 978-0552-77331-7
Answered by Rev Prof Alister McGrath:
The Dawkins Delusion
SPCK. isbn 978-0-281-05927-0
Rev Prof Keith Ward:
Why There Almost Certainly is a God: Doubting Dawkins
Lion. ISBN 978-0745953304
John Cornwell (Director of the Science and Human Dimension Project at Jesus College, Cambridge). This book is short, genial, and witty:
Profile Books. ISBN 978-1-84668-048-9
A pair of books by the Hitchens brothers: 1st Christopher (atheist); then Peter (Christian):
God is not Great.
Atlantic Books. ISBN 978-1-84354-574-3
The Rage Against God. Continuum