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25 Classic Works of Christian Literature

25 classic works of christian literature
25 Classic Works of Christian Literature: All at least 100 years old that have stood the test of time, written by Christians for us all.

Here is a good definition from GOODREAD:

Books at least 100 years old that have stood the test of time, written by Christians and good for Christians of every denomination for gaining a sense of Christian identity in the biggest sense of the word.

I write as an Evangelical Christian, which constrains me to recognize only those who believe that Jesus is central to our faith, that His atonement is necessary for salvation, and that the Bible is the written Word of God, inerrant, and authoritative for our doctrine and faith.

Having said all of that, I proceed to list such Christian Literature classics that have been a blessing to me.
One last caveat, the 28 works that are among the MOST IMPORTANT WORKS OF CHRISTIAN LITERATURE are noted there but are not repeated here.

Christian Literature Classics before the Protestant Reformation:

1. The Nicene Creed, 325. -The core recitation of essential doctrines for all Christians. One page.

2. History of the Church: From Christ to Constantine, Eusebius, 326.

Eusebius’ account is the only surviving historical record of the Church during its crucial first 300 years. It is reassuring to see that the faith as delivered to the Apostles remained pure and intact during these early years. 435 pages.

3. Life of Moses by Gregory of Nissan (c. 335 – c. 395). The first Christian biography.

Using the Exodus account, Gregory presents Moses’ life as a pattern for spiritual development. Easy to read, about 200 pages.

Christian Literature Classics of the Protestant Reformation

4. Lectures on Romans by Martin Luther (c. 1515–1516). A very deep theological book. Too much for me although I have read the passages on “Faith Alone” which led to the conversions of Augustine, Luther himself, and John Wesley. 400 pages

5. Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin, 1536. Written in French, this is a long and beautiful work and the basis for Calvinism. 2 volumes, 1700 pages.

A much shorter presentation is presented in the WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM, 1647, 16 pages.

Christian Literature Classics of the Seventeenth Century

6. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, 1611 to 1691 Easy reading and a blessing to me years ago. 112 pages.

Focus is on contemplative process, a dangerous view that is very light on Jesus and scripture. God is mentioned 245 times, Jesus twice. Always an alert.

7. Holy Sonnets, John Donne, 1633. 19 poems are considered among the greatest sonnets in English. They were written during his conversion and the process of taking holy orders in the Church of England.

Among there are, “Death Be Not Proud,” and “Batter My Heart, Three Personed God.” 20 pages.

8. The Doubting Believer, (A Puritan Treatise on Assurance), Obadiah Sedgwick (1600-1658) The best book I have ever read on Belief vs. Doubt.

It depends on your information intake. If it’s from the world, you will doubt. If it is from the Holy Ghost, you will believe. 200 pages.

9. The Mortification of Sin ,John Owen, 1642 “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

An important travelling companion for us as pilgrims. 100 pages.

10. Let Go, by Fenelon, 1651 – 7 January 1715. 40 letters by a Catholic bishop and friend of Madame Guyon addressing the inner life and learning to rest in Jesus.

“Give yourself up to His plans. Be led wherever He wills by His providence.” 87 pages.

11. Blaise Pascal, Pensees,1670. The philosopher and mathematician’s short but powerful thoughts defended the Faith.

“The knowledge of God without that of man’s misery causes pride. The knowledge of man’s misery without that of God causes despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the middle course, because in Him we find both God and our misery.” Pascal. 364 pages

12. Paradise Regained, John Milton, 1671. The sequel to Paradise Lost, is shorter, simpler, and more powerful. The “Regaining” battle is Jesus’ victory over Satan’s temptations in the wilderness.

Wonderful stuff, although the 17th century English and poetic syntax take a little getting used to. 2000 lines of iambic pentameter vs 10000 in Paradise Lost. 44 pages.

13. Doctrine of Repentance, Thomas Watson, 1668. A “sin-focused” doctrine:

Sight of Sin, Sorrow for Sin, Confession of Sin, Shame of Sine, Hatred of Sin, and Turning from Sin. Clearly expounded and giving particular attention to true repentance vs. false. 128 pages.

Christian Literature Classics of the Eighteenth Century

14. A Short and Very Easy Method of Prayer by Madam Guyon, 1703. This is the book I recommend to those learning to pray.

Centered on Jesus and scripture, it teaches “Prayer alone can bring you into His presence and keep you there continually.” I find it so. 80 pages.

15. Tale of a Tub, by Jonathan Swift, 1704. One of the first and greatest satires. Swift tells the story of 3 brothers, Peter(the apostle), Martin (Luther), and Jack (Calvin) who inherit their father’s coat (Christianity).

Wise, wonderful and funny. A defense of the Anglican church. 203 pages.

16. Abandonment to Divine Providence or The Sacrament of the Present Moment, Jean Pierre de Caussade, (7 March 1675 – 8 December 1751) The title says it all. I spent a year learning the value of this present moment as well as beginning to understand my “enemies,” who God uses to teach me and accomplish His purposes.

“They are galley slaves who bring the ship into port with hard rowing.” 107 pages.

17. The History of Redemption, Jonathan Edwards, 1739. Begun as a series of sermons, this book explains how God’s plan of salvation has been revealed 1) from the Fall to Jesus. 2) from Jesus’ incarnation to His resurrection, and 3) from His resurrection to the end of the world.

Fascinating reading. It anchored my faith in college days. 400 pages.

18. The Life and Diary of David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards and David Brainerd, 1749. Brainerd was a missionary to the American Indians in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

His zeal and single-mindedness to Jesus and his mission has made his diary a compelling influence on others.

He died at 29 at the home of Edwards who edited and published this powerful work. 365 pages.

Christian Literature Classics of the Nineteenth Century

19. Fear and Trembling, Søren Kierkegaard, 1843. This book captured my mind and thoughts when I was in college.

It is about faith; the faith of Abraham and the test God gave him to sacrificing his son. One of the most influential books of my life. 160 pages.

20. The Autobiography of George Mueller, 1854. Mueller had extraordinary faith which was tested regularly as he established orphanages for thousands of children.

He made no solicitation for funds but relied wholly on God to supply their needs. The stories are amazing and illustrate God’s goodness and Mueller’s simple trust in His Word. 273 pages.

21. Morning and Evening, Charles Spurgeon, 1866. What many have called the best devotional ever.

A short scripture for morning and evening for every day of the year in the inspired and encouraging words of the “Prince of Preachers.” 365 devotionals from Old and New Testaments. 400 Pages.

22. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883). Alfred Edersheim. I grew up with this book and found it fascinating. You will too.

It’s a long journey but worth every step! It makes the Gospels come alive with details on geography and Jewish culture of the first century. 1100 pages.

23. Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray, 1895 A road map in 9 short chapters.

“God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. Do we not read: “It is God that works in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13)?
And that is what we should seek for–to go on our faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong, to conquer what is evil, and to work what is well-pleasing in His blessed sight. God Himself will work it in you.” 86 pages.

24. With Christ in the School of Prayer, Andrew Murray, 1895.

The very best book on prayer I’ve ever read. 31 lessons on what Jesus taught about prayer. 186 pages.

25. Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton, 1908. The gifted literary figure’s personal testimony about how he came to be a Christian. Life is presented as a riddle and Christian faith is the answer. Chesterton’s prose is lively and engaging.

This may be the most enjoyable book on this list. Try it; you’ll like it! 168 pages

Christian Literature Classics have been my friends and traveling companions all my life. Each has drawn me closer to Jesus and helped me know Him better. May they do the same for you!

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