Impactful Christian Book Chapters

John Piper wrote, “It is sentences that change my life, not books.”  This may be true, but elaboration on those sentences is what really reinforces the point.  Clearly some ideas are worth dwelling over more than others, but sometimes we need more than one sentence to help them soak in and change us into the likeness of God.

This list is a work in process, but these chapters have had significant impact on me because of their distilled wisdom.  I return to them frequently to help quickly and effectively re-clarify key topics:

  • A Body of Divinity by Thomas Watson – Man’s Chief End (Chapter 1): Masterfully explains how our purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever
  • The Death of Death by John Owen – JI Packer’s Introduction to the book: It may seem odd that an introduction to a book is so powerful, but Packer does an amazing job of distilling Owen’s argument and explaining reformed theology in a few pages
  • The Weight of Glory essay by CS Lewis: This essay is best known for the quote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit. … Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses”  There are many other memorable quotes as well
  • Ordering Your Private World by Gordan MacDonald – Living as a Called Person (Chapter 5): This book isn’t a classic in its own right, but the short chapter on living as a called rather than a driven person is a helpful reorientation of our priorities
  • A Puritan Theology by Joel Beeke – The Puritan Practice of Mediation (Chapter 55): Beeke’s who section on Theology in Practice is worthy of being reread several times to ensure it’s fully absorbed, but the chapter focusing on Meditation is particularly helpful on the topic of thinking about God’s Word
  • Grounded in the Gospel by JI Packer – Three Facets of the Faith (Chapter 6): In the book and this chapter in particular, Packer lays out an argument for using catechisms for discipleship.  This chapter elaborates on a faith, hope, love framework that ties to a grounding in the Apostles’ Creed, Lord’s Prayer and Ten Commandments
  • Real Christianity by William Wilberforce – Chapter 4: Wilberforce, known for his work to eradicate slavery in Britain, covers mistaken ideas about Christianity, the desire for admiration and applause among other topics
  • The Christian Mind by Harry Blamires – Chapter 6: The author compares Christian and secular thinking and how it’s challenging to think Christianly in a world that doesn’t believe in the supernatural and eternal
  • Soul Searching by Christian Smith – God, Religion, Whatever (Chapter 4): Smith is known for introducing his influential view of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism as the primary pseudo-religion of youth today. The chapter fleshes out this idea based on a research study he help run
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