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I have taken a few days off from writing more articles because I have been on a reading binge lately. My current binge started with a book that my beautiful daughter in-law gave me for Christmas – Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander. That got me to thinking that I should prepare a Recommended Reading List to include in this blog. All of these are books that I have read and recommend for others who are seeking to know more about God, the Afterlife and the Universe. I have organized them by categories:
Near Death Experiences (NDE) / Glimpses of Heaven
Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander
Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon, who was in a coma for 7 days. Prior to this experience, he thought NDE’s were dreams created in the physical brain. He has a totally different opinion, now that he has been there himself. He visited at least 3 different realms of what lies beyond the curtain of earthly death. Though from a distance, he even met and spoke with the Divine source of the universe. He makes a strong argument for the existence of the spiritual side of reality. For me, this was a “can’t put it down” type of read. This one was definitely faith-building.
Map of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander
I’m not sure the title really describes Dr. Alexander’s second book. After his NDE, he has researched meditation and other methods to better access the memories and knowledge that he received on his excursion into the afterlife. He has had some success at it. He also has received many letters from others who have had NDE’s and were inspired to write after reading Proof of Heaven. This book continues to make the case for spiritual reality, and that Heaven is real. It is a little bit drier read than the first book, but is absolutely worthwhile. I plan to re-read it.
To Heaven and Back by Dr. Mary Neal
Dr. Neal is a orthopedic surgeon who drowned while whitewater kayaking. Before being resuscitated, she went to Heaven and communicated with Jesus and angels there. She says that there is an entrance hall where “…we are each given a final opportunity to choose God or to turn away – for eternity.” It’s been a while since I read this one, but just reading some clips makes me want to go back and read it again.
90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper
Don Piper is a Baptist minister who was in a very bad auto accident. He was pronounced dead at the scene, but another Baptist preacher, returning from the same conference, came upon the scene and didn’t give up on him. While Don was dead on this earth, he experienced a marvelous visit to Heaven. This was the first of several NDE books that I have read. There was a movie made of this one, though I haven’t seen it. All of these books affirm my faith.
The Secret Things of God by Dr Henry Cloud
Dr. Cloud is a psychologist and definitely a Christian. He brings out and organizes truths from the Bible in a way that makes sense and “rings true” to me. He backs up his statements with Bible references. You could argue that the “secrets” he discusses are not really secrets – they are right there in the Good Book. However, he presents them in a way that gets you to the important points, clearing up a lot of confusion along the way. Very highly recommended by GrampaDennis!
12 ‘Christian’ Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy by Dr Henry Cloud
I have to admit that this title drew me in. The 12 beliefs that Dr. Cloud discusses are held by many people. He explains, and backs up with Bible references, why these beliefs are mistaken. He presents a better way to deal with the issues that these beliefs are about (also backed from the Bible). I can’t say for sure if he is totally right on every point, but his messages “ring true” to me. This book sorts through a lot of the confusion that comes from apparent contradictions and conflicting interpretations of the Bible. Dr. Cloud deals with misconceptions about guilt and shame, and how we should react to them. Another major part of the book is how the concept of God’s grace frees us from the “have to” attitude and inspires the “want to” attitude. In other words, God desires for us to want to please him, instead of trying to please him because we have to. I definitely recommend that you read this book after you have read The Secret Things of God.
God and Soul – The Truth and the Proof by Jim Denney
This 2012 work is more of a science book than a religious book. Jim Denney is a writer and researcher, who has a heavy interest in the nature of the universe. He pulls together information from many sources that shows that there is convincing and overwhelming evidence that God exists, that the soul is real, and that the universe was designed with you and me in mind. The author admits that this is very much a minority view among academic circles. However, everything he presents is sourced, footnoted and verified. The author presents both sides of every argument and urges the reader to fact check him.
The book includes the following quote from Physicist Freeman Dyson:
“Religious creationists and scientific materialists are equally dogmatic and insensitive. By their arrogance they bring both science and religion into disrepute.”
If you are willing to approach these topics with an open mind, I highly recommend this book to you. You will come away more firmly convinced than ever of the existence of God and that our Soul (or Mind) is much more than a figment of our brain’s imagination.
The Soul and the Spiritual Side of Reality
The Spiritual Brain by Mario Beauregard, PHD & Denyse O’Leary
Mario Beauregard has done groundbreaking work on the neurobiology of mystical experience at the University of Montreal. Denyse O’Leary is a freelance journalist and blogger who specializes in faith and science issues. This book contains a thorough examination of the materialist view that the Mind (or Soul) is simply the physical workings of the brain. The authors show that the materialist view does not account for many of the phenomena that a substantial portion of the population experiences. They present evidence which indicates a spiritual reality and that our Minds are part of that reality. There are many good quotes in this book. Here are some of my favorites:
While consciousness lies in the no man’s land between religion and science, claimed by both yet understood by neither, it may also hold a key to the apparent conflict between these two great human institutions. – B. Alan Wallace, The Taboo of Subjectivity
Is the real purpose of science to help us to understand the world we live in or to provide support for a specific, narrow view of that world? The choice is ours. – Mario Beauregard, The Spiritual Brain
Those who seek the truth seek God, whether they realize it or not. – Carmelite philosopher Edith Stein, who became Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and was gassed at Auschwitz in 1942.
This book makes a strong case for that which most of us know on some level, but can’t objectively prove – that our Mind/Soul/Consciousness exists in a way that is more than our physical bodies, and that we are somehow connected to a larger Consciousness (God) in the Universe. It’s heavy reading, but worth it if you are seeking deeper understanding.
History and the Validity of the Bible
Can We Still Believe the Bible? by Craig L. Blomberg PhD.
Dr. Blomberg is a distinguished professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. This book takes you through an examination of issues that have been raised about the authenticity of the Bible. This book is heavy reading. The Conclusion (actually a lengthy chapter) can be summed up in this quote: “We can still wholeheartedly believe the Bible in the twenty-first century, even after honestly engaging contemporary questions.” This book is not for everybody, but if you want to dive deep into the subject, and come up with a faith-affirming conclusion, I recommend it to you.
The Historical Jesus: Five Views by Paul Rhodes Eddy
Professor Paul Eddy was the chief editor of this “multiple-views” book, which actually has five authors. The book includes essays from each of five leading scholars, involved in historical research on Jesus. Each of the scholars responds to a set of five topics. This is essentially a debate in book form, with a spectrum of views represented. You can come away from this one, affirmed by whichever of the views you most agree with. For me, it was a worthwhile read.
Jesus on Trial by David Limbaugh
Don’t judge David Limbaugh by opinions you may hold about his more famous brother. David is a lawyer and a well-regarded author, commentator and columnist. Here are a few quotes from the book cover notes:
“From popular culture to the halls of academia, Christianity is under attack. The Old Testament’s accounts of history are often dismissed as myths, while the gospels are frequently derided as a fairy tale. … David Limbaugh confronts the skeptics head-on. Applying his lawyer’s eye to the evidence, he provides powerful arguments demonstrating the Bible’s truthfulness. … Limbaugh knows the skeptics’ arguments well – because he used to be a skeptic himself. … Part personal testimony, part Christian apologetic, part informative evaluation of the facts, and part primer on theology, Jesus on Trial provides Christians with a remarkable reaffirmation of their faith – while offering a challenge to skeptics that cannot be ignored.”
I found and read this book at a time when I needed it. It definitely helped to rebuild my faith. I would put it in the top 3 of my recommended books (besides the Bible).
Searching for Jesus by Robert J. Hutchinson
This book, published in 2015, provides a nearly current overview of recent archaeological finds and new developments in biblical scholarship that question much of what skeptical scholars have assumed and asserted about Jesus over the last two centuries. It examines multiple sides of many issues and concludes that the New Testament Gospels were written earlier than many believe and are more accurate than many believe. Quoting from the Author’s Note:
“…the New Testament may be truer than we thought, and Jesus of Nazareth, rather than being smaller than the Gospels portray him, may actually be much bigger…and far more interesting.”
The book is about 35% footnotes and references. Mr. Hutchinson backs up what he says. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is seeking to know more about the authenticity of the Bible and Jesus.
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
Lee Strobel holds both journalism and law degrees, and once was the legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. He uses his investigative journalist and legal techniques to interview 13 of the leading experts, scholars and researchers in various fields relating to the historical accuracy of the New Testament and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Contrary to some of the stories publicized by the popular media, he finds a wealth of convincing and credible evidence that Jesus is who he says he is, that he is the Messiah predicted in Old Testament prophecies, and that these events did happen as written in the Gospels. I recommend this book very highly.
Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord by Alan Kurschner
What every Christian needs to know about the return of Christ
Kurschner brings together the prophecies from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Book of Revelation, analyzes them, and develops a timeline for the end times. He interprets what these prophecies mean, in a general sense, without trying to nail down every detail of what is to come. He shows, from the scriptures, that the Tribulation is well under way before the Rapture occurs. This is contrary to a very popular belief (as illustrated in the Left Behind series) that the Rapture occurs first. Mr. Kurschner makes his case in a very logical way and shows very convincing Bible references that support it.
I know that there is a substantial body of Believers, including at least one good friend of mine, who are sure that the Rapture comes first. However, I am convinced, not just from this book, but from previous reading as well, that Kurschner has it right.
The Complete Bible Answer Book by Hank Hanegraaff
Hank Hanegraaff has hosted a syndicated radio program called The Bible Answer Man for over two decades. This book is distilled from the radio program, and is in question and answer format. While I may not totally agree with every one of his answers, he provides a good place to start your examination of each of 172 questions. He backs up his answers with Bible references. This is a worthy addition to anyone’s collection.
1,001 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Angels, Demons and the Afterlife
by J. Stephen Lang
This was a bargain find at Marden’s Surplus Store. It’s both a reference book and a treasury of trivia. Mr. Lang is the author of 20 or so books on religious topics. He includes Bible references in the majority of his articles. Some of his information comes from other sources. Most of those refer to literature, movies, etc.
I have more books on religion in my collection, some of which are packed away in boxes in my garage attic. There are a few that I may add to my Recommended list later, after I skim them again. I rejected 3 or 4 today, as I looked through those I could find right away. Even the books I rejected added something to my overall education. However, I wasn’t impressed enough to give them my recommendation.
Now, back to my reading. I have a book to finish and another interesting book that I just bought. I mostly buy or borrow books in Kindle format now, unless I find them on a bargain sale somewhere.