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Christian Spiritual Classics

Every so often someone will ask me if I have read the latest Christian book, or if I know of a certain popular preacher. Sometimes I have heard of the person/book, and sometimes not. I try to stay informed, but there are two billion Christians in the world, and one person cannot stay on top of all the different movements, etc.

All that reminds me of a joke my fellow church history doctoral students had at seminary. Whenever someone asked us if we had read this or that latest book, we would say: "I donít read anything unless it is at least 100 years old, that way I know it is a classic."

I teach at class on spiritual classics at Carolina Graduate School of Divinity and take students through a sampling of Christian Spiritual Classics found throughout the history of Christianity. I have included a partial listing of books below. The author is listed first, the book second, and the lifespan of the author last; if the author is unknown then an estimated time span is given.  In addition, you can find summaries and quotes of some of these here

And this is the best part:  you can find copies of most of these (especially the older ones) on the internet for free. Many of these are here: Click on "Browse" and then "author."  My favorite of all of these is the first one, Sayings of the Desert Fathers. And my favorite spirituality book of the past 25 years is Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk.  She is a Protestant and does a wonderful job of telling her spiritual journey of learning about the spiritual classics and incorporating them into her life.  

©2009 Mark Nickens

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