The general philosophy behind the selections in this canon is to not only further the individual’s understanding of Christianity as a whole, but to also broaden the perspectives of a self-proclaimed Christian to better understand world religions and their ties to Christianity. The hope is that through greater understanding of another’s belief system members of different religions can better co-exist without persecution, anger, or fear of something that is not completely understood or that is different. This list is not meant to be exhaustive or given to imply complete understanding of Christianity or how Christianity incorporates into other religious teaching, but simply to serve as a starting point for someone willing to explore their religion.
The first book is the Bible. It is imperative to read the book from which your religious teachings and practices stem from. True understanding of the roots and beliefs of Christianity must begin with the original work in order to hope to gain any real understanding of the religion and its practices. The Bible, according to belief, was written initially by God through his disciples, which is why the book is revered among Christians, making it the most important work to be read on this canon. There are many different versions of the Bible available, which make it easily accessible for anyone who wishes to read it.
The Book: A History of the Bible written by Christopher De Hamel is a beautiful and engaging history of the Bible which gives a brief overview of the origins of the book that so many base their faith upon. When basing your belief system on a book, though your faith may give you this answer, it is important to understand the origins of that book as well as how the version that is currently being read came into being so that you have a clearer picture in your mind of what precisely it is that you are advocating. One of the main problems that Christians face as they come of age is a lack of belief or a questioning of their faith. By thoroughly understanding their faith as well as the history of it they can have a better understanding of and form their own unique beliefs and world views.
The Koran is the holy book of Islam, a religion that is under great scrutiny in our current world. The book is believed by followers of the Islamic faith to be the word of God sent down to Earth through the Angel Gabriel who repeated God’s message to Muhammad. Muhammad then proceeded to teach the people in his inner circle through these memorized lessons, which were eventually written down and compiled into the current Koran. Before criticizing another’s beliefs, it is necessary that those beliefs be well understood. By reading the Koran, one will be able to see some of the similarities between the teachings of this book and the Christian Bible as well as gain useful knowledge when discussing world politics and religions. By noting the differences as well as the many similarities between Christianity and the Islamic faith it becomes easier to bridge the gap between the two religions with understanding rather than fear.
The Four Agreements written by Don Miguel Ruiz is a book designed to better one’s self awareness based upon Toltec wisdom. The book is not designed to be a religious book, however the way in which the Agreements are presented ties back into some of the basic principles of Christianity and how Christians are supposed to regulate their lives according to the teachings of the Bible. This is an interesting book because it not only demonstrates how yet another way of thinking or teaching can be tied in to some of the principles of Christianity but it also broadens the individual’s perspective on some of these principles. Sometimes when given the same teachings in the same way all of your life it becomes useful to see those teachings in a different light in order to gain a better understanding of them as well as how they apply to your life. This text is a stepping stone toward gaining that type of understanding in a non-threatening way. The Agreements do not challenge any specific religious beliefs but exist to assist in applying those principles in a positive manner in everyday life.
Brave New World authored by Aldous Huxley in 1932 is a work of fiction that presents a scientific view of a futuristic utopian society in which genetic engineering is a reality and humans are bred to be a specific type of person is an interesting addition to this canon first because it is a work of fiction and second because it is completely based upon scientific beliefs rather than Christian or other religious beliefs. The reason that it is added on this list is that it portrays the dark side of humanity in the utopian society that most wish for and gives new reason as to why a deep and continued faith in religion is necessary in present society. As it is more of a worst-case scenario volume, it brings to light how world societies can go wrong without the belief in humanity that religion affords.
There are many other books that should be included such as Candide by Voltaire which depicts “the best of all possible worlds”, a place where religion does not apply and the fallout of that lack of belief is clearly depicted, Srimad Bhagavatam: First Canto, the beginnings of the teachings of Krishna which are at the base of Hinduism. This book gives a different perspective on the Creation that is far removed from the teachings of Christianity though it does lend understanding to how others view the world. There is also the well-known DaVinci Code which questions some of the more basic and controversial beliefs of the Christian system in a smart and scientific way though it is a work of fiction and should be used only to encourage further research into the history of Christianity and an exploration of the belief system rather than to serve as an addition to the teachings of the Bible.
Anonymous. (1998). The Koran. New York: Penguin Classics.
Bible, T. B. (2005). Christopher De Hamel. New York: Phaidon Press.
God. (2007). The Holy Bible. New York: Crossway Bibles.
Huxley, A. (2006). Brave New World. New York: Harper Collins.
Prabhupada, A. B. (1998). Srimad Bhagavatam: First Canto. Los Angeles: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
Voltaire. (2008). Candide. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics.