Fred Sanders on Why Christians Should Read the Great Books

Should Christians read books written by pagans or books written from an opposing worldview? In this video, Fred Sanders weighs in and explains the value of classic literature for the Christian.


Below is a lightly edited transcript of the video above. Before quoting, please check the video to ensure accuracy.

One of the main reasons that Christians should read the great books—even the pagan classics that are not Christian in authorship or in their ideas—is that Christians in the western world always have done so. If you go to the great minds well-formed in theological teaching, they have engaged Plato, and Aristotle, and Homer, and the other classics. You can’t pick up Milton’s Paradise Lost and make much sense of it at all if you don’t realize that he’s interacting with the epic tradition that goes before him. So, there’s the influence answer. There’s this great influence on Christian thought that makes it worth engaging the great texts for contemporary Christians.

But another reason for engaging these works is just that they are proven classics. Lots of people have recommended these as valuable books to read. If you were to ask a friend whom you trust, “What’s a great book I should read?” and they tell you something, that’s great. But that’s only one person who’s near you, and like you, and alive at the same time as you. The great books are a set of books that multiple generations and multiple cultures have all agreed are worth reading. So, think of it as an extreme book recommendation.