I love books! One of the best things about the world of books is the sheer variety. That’s also one of the greatest problems. If you’re not familiar with the world of Christian writing and publishing, a foray into your local vanilla Christian bookstore could put poison in your soul or, at the very least, theological marshmallows (sweet, but no nourishment). The same thing can happen as you browse various online retailers. Therefore, I want to offer some guidance in purchasing good quality Christian books, books that will nourish your faith and walk with the Lord. Note: this is not meant as an “approved” list — simply suggestions and certainly not comprehensive.
Bookstores and Online Retailers
The best place to find wholesome Christian books is with retailers who care about more than the bottom line. There are certain bookstores where, because the owners/operators have a godly zeal for Christian truth, almost anything you find for sale is going to be dependable and worthwhile. These bookstores are a rare find. I’m still most familiar with the Canadian situation, so my recommendation reflects that. The best Christian bookstore in Canada (that I’m aware of) is located in the little Ontario city of Brantford: Reformed Book Services. You can find their website here. If you’re in the area, check them out. If not, you can still use their website to order online. Even if you don’t live in Canada, browse through their website to look for good Christian books and then order them from a retailer in your country.
As with bookstores, there are Christian publishers who only publish what they will stand behind theologically. Other publishers are far less scrupulous — they may be more interested in what sells than in what is true, good, and genuinely helpful. When you browse for books, and especially if you don’t know the author, the publisher’s name can help determine whether the book may be worthwhile. Let me give three categories:
Generally Dependable Publishers
Almost everything from these publishers can be recommended — the odd time they might publish a dud, but they’re usually pretty careful.
- Reformation Heritage Books
- P & R (Presbyterian & Reformed)
- Banner of Truth
- Reformation Trust
- Reformed Fellowship Inc.
- Christian Focus Publications
- Evangelical Press
Hit and Miss Publishers
These guys publish some good stuff, but also some that belongs in the recycling bin. Be extra-discerning with these.
- Baker Book House
- Inter-Varsity Press
- Canon Press
Steer Clear of these Publishers
- FaithWords (main publisher of prosperity gospel false teachers)
- HarperCollins (avoid their “Christian” books anyway)
There are also authors that you can usually count on to put out good material. These are authors who have a track record of writing orthodox books. You can watch for their names and, if you see one of their books, normally you won’t go wrong by picking it up. Here are some authors that I can generally recommend, ones that you might run across in any Christian bookstore. They still need to be read with discernment, but you should be able gain some benefit from them regardless of whatever their flaws.
- Sinclair Ferguson
- D. A. Carson
- R. C. Sproul
- Michael Horton
- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
- J. I. Packer
There are also a few authors that I need to warn against in the strongest possible terms. These men and women are false teachers peddling theological poison. Some of them are prosperity gospel proponents — preachers of “another gospel” — and very popular. These are some of the best-sellers. Buy and read at your own risk — but if you want my opinion: don’t waste your time.
- Joel Osteen
- Creflo Dollar
- Joyce Meyer
- T.D. Jakes
- Joseph Prince
- Beth Moore
- Brian Houston (and his wife, “Pastor” Bobbie Houston)
- Rob Bell