Tony Reinke's six categories for reading: theology and reading for pleasure. Here's a third: reading to kindle spiritual reflection.
I think it's fantastic that Reinke included this category of reading. It's not one I've thought much about. But it's one that has grown my faith and brought me great joy over the years.
So what does he mean by books that kindle spiritual reflection? Not books about theology or Christian living, but novels and poetry and biography and history: books by Christians that help us reflect deeply on faith, grace, sin, death, and eternal life.
Let's start with novels. Here's a short list of favourite writers whose novels have kindled spiritual reflection in me: CS Lewis, Elizabeth Goudge, Patricia St. John, Marilynne Robinson, Francine Rivers, Bo Giertz and George MacDonald.
If you recognise the names, you know they're a mixed lot, from evangelical (Francine Rivers) to Anglo-Catholic (Elizabeth Goudge) to universalist (George MacDonald). I read them with discernment. But in different ways they feed my faith, enlarge my joy, deepen my experience of grace, and spur me on to love and obedience.
my summer reading and Meredith's review). These are literary masterpieces from the best-seller lists, as well as novels with thought-provoking Christian content.
review of The Hammer of God. This story of three pastors is not an easy read, but it's well worth the effort: it will help you dig more deeply into God's grace as each of these young pastors come to understand it for the first time. The Knights of Rhodes, a historical novel about the crusades, is also a good read in which the main character comes to understand grace more deeply.
great influence on CS Lewis, and some of his books for children - The Princess and the Goblin (see this quote) and The Little Princess - have done more than most to encourage me in courageous, trusting holiness. These two books are well worth reading to your children or reading yourself if you love books for young people.
That's my short list of favourite Christian novels that have encouraged me and grown my faith. I'd love to talk about Christian poetry too, but I'll leave that for another day.
What about you? What are your favourite Christian novels that kindle spiritual reflection in you? Tell us about them here.
image is by Sapphireblue at flickr