What book gives you a powerful glimpse of the Christian life?

10 writers respond.

We asked pastors and writers to tell us about a book that has helped them envision what it means to live the Christian life.

L. Gregory Jones: Standing in the hospital elevator with a father whose son was in the ICU for reasons inexplicable, the book I should choose became clear to me. (I had been wrestling with multiple possibilities: portrait of community or saintly individual? Fiction or nonfiction? Classic or contemporary?) The father, a lifelong Christian, expressed his concern poignantly: “Where is God in the midst of such terrible things happening in our world?”

In that moment, I didn’t respond by saying, “Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov explores this with great insight.” But in a world in which sin and evil continue to afflict us in horrifying ways, the novel’s portrait of faithful Christian life is indeed extraordinary. Dostoevsky’s response to the problem of evil is not Ivan’s rebellion, or even the legend of the Grand Inquisitor. His response is to show that the most faithful way to engage evil is through holiness, refracting the light of Christ in all we are and do. Alyosha glimpses such a life in Father Zosima. By the end of the book, Alyosha has become an exemplar himself while his brother Ivan, full of righteous anger, has gone mad.