Best Christian Book of All Time: Final Four

Tournament Bracket

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Over the weekend, voters made their choices for the Final Four in the Best Christian Book of All Time Tournament. Unlike the NCAA’s Final Four, ours was marked by fewer upsets and fewer broken legs. (Please – if you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t Google it. As a University of Louisville alumnus, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to think of my alma mater again without wincing in sympathy pain.)

Review the Final Four below, then vote on Facebook for your choices! At the end of the post, I’ve also pulled out a few of the top storylines of the tournament so far. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Final Four Results

Theology & Apologetics: Augustine’s City of God (3) made a strong push, but Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (1) won in a 59-46 victory.

Christian Life & Discipleship: In a 75-17 romp, The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1) easily defeated Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.

Fiction & Poetry: With all of our poetic contenders long since knocked out, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (2) defeated The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (4) 47-34.

Memoirs, Devotionals, & Spirituality: The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis (2) was beaten by Confessions by Augustine (1) 52-13.

Your Best Christian Book of All Time Final Pairings:

  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (1) vs. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1)
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (2) vs. Confessions by Augustine (1)

How They Got Here

Mere Christianity defeated:

  • On Loving God by Bernard of Clairvaux (16) 99-11
  • The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright (9) 90-25
  • Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton (4) 56-22
  • The City of God by Augustine (3) 59-46

The Cost of Discipleship defeated:

  • The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (16) 112-3
  • The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie Newbigin (8) 72-15
  • Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (5) 51-19
  • Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster (6) 75-17

The Lord of the Rings defeated:

  • The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (15) 108-10
  • Complete Poetry and Selected Prose by John Donne (7) 66-25
  • Les Misérables by Victor Huge (3) 43-24
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (4) 47-34

Confessions defeated:

  • The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning (16) 86-22
  • My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (8) 62-31
  • The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence (4) 44-14
  • The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis (2) 52-13

Top Storylines of the Tournament So Far

Is The Lord of the Rings a “Christian” book?  The questions raised by my post What IS a Christian Book? haven’t really been answered in the tournament. For the most part, the issue hasn’t been a factor, except in the Fiction & Poetry bracket, where commentators have questioned the bona fides of The Lord of the Rings in its match-ups against more explicitly Christian classics like Les Misérables and The Chronicles of Narnia. Will The Lord of the Rings continue its victory march? Or will it fall short now that it’s facing books of theology, discipleship, and the devotional life?

Too many Reformed? Not enough history and politics? Commenters like Blake and geezeronthequad have raised questions about the dominance of Reformed authors in the bracket, in particular considering how few Anabaptist and Orthodox authors made the cut. Meanwhile, on Facebook, commenters have asked about the exclusion of historical and political works. The selection committee vows to get to the bottom of these travesties and investigate the responsible parties.

Can anyone catch Bonhoeffer? So far, the only author to come within 50 votes of Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been…Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Is this the result of favorable seeding, or is The Cost of Discipleship the favorite to win it all?

Close, but no cigar: By narrow margins, C.S. Lewis and Augustine each missed having two books competing in the Final Four.

What are your thoughts on the tournament and our Final Four? Leave your comments below, then vote on Facebook for the final contenders!

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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