On Sunday morning, Pastor Josh introduced the sermon by talking about the importance of reading biographies. Here is what he said:
The first reason to read biography is it’s biblical. I’m thinking of Romans 15:4: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Hebrews 13:7: Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. There are lives of people alive and people who are dead that we are to look at and consider and imitate. How they lived? What they believed? Almost 50% of the Bible is narrative, story. And the vast majority of that would fall into a category called biography. The 4 books of the Bible that present to the life of Christ are biographies. So, I think, that’s enough to make us readers of biography. But I’ve got more reasons.
Second reason, it’s efficient. And this is what I mean. I learn from reading biographies about theology, about history, about cultures, about a lot of other things than the life I’m studying. Because it’s a story set in a context. So it’s a great way and usually readable way to learn about a lot of things that I want to learn about.
Third reason, it’s inspiring and guiding. I need to be inspired. I need heroes. And so do you. I need people out in front of me who have done things that I’m doing and walked through things that I’m walking through now. Or who make me think, “I should be doing that too or I could do that”. To see how God was with them and how he helped them. It encourages me and gives me energy and passion. They allow us to get a sketch or picture of what our life might be or could be.
Pastor Josh, went on to caution us about putting identity forming expectations on ourselves based on biographies, instead of basing our identity in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and where we stand in light of that. So if you are reading biographies, be careful of getting your identity twisted. But with that being said… read biographies!
Below is a list of some biographies your pastors recommend and some links to other lists some folks have made that will help get you started with and be inspired to read some biographies. The list contained in this blog is in no particular order. Grab a cup of coffee and a great biography and curl up for some good reading. You won’t regret it (but if you do, don’t come crying to me).
- Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes.
- Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero by David Maraniss
- Chronicles Vol. One by Bob Dylan
- Jack: A Life of C. S. Lewis by George Sayer
- John Adams by David McCullough
- J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter
- The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis by Alan Jacobs
- Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton
- Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
- The Life of A.W. Tozer: In Pursuit of God by James L. Snyder
- The Autobiography Of George Muller by George Muller
- The Confessions of St. Augustine by St. Augustine
- The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
- Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden
- Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup and Dr. Sue Eakin
One fun game to play in light of this list is “which pastor recommended which biography?”, but what might be even more useful is to comment below with some biographies that you have found impacting in your life. Join the conversation.
And here are a few links from other folks listing some recommended biographies: