- July 30, 2018
The Fourth of July holiday inspires all of us to feel a little more American. Our country has never been perfect, but we have a sense of freedom you can't help but love. Perhaps all of the Independence Day festivities have left you feeling like you want to learn more about famous Americans who were Christians. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list of some of the best Christian biographies of American icons. From well-known evangelists to sports heroes, these people captured what it meant to be both a Christian and an American. Check out these Christian biographies of American icons and discover some of our country's amazing history.
“Steve McQueen” - Greg Laurie
Since we live in a culture that values entertainment so much, why not start with a movie star? Steve McQueen is known for timeless films like “The Great Escape” and “Bullitt.” What you may not know about the Academy Award nominee is that he also loved to read his Bible. One of the biggest influences on McQueen’s life was Billy Graham, who often discipled the Hollywood star. Pastor Greg Laurie retraces the life of this film icon and points out all of the different ways in which faith intersected with McQueen’s story.
“A Prophet With Honor” - William C. Martin
Billy Graham wasn’t just an evangelist who spoke into the life of Steve McQueen, though. This bold man of God impacted generations of people around the world through his ministry. Graham is almost certainly the most famous preacher in the history of the United States. Although we’ll touch on other men of God further on, Graham’s ministry was perfectly timed for the rise in television and the tumultuous 1960s. By reading “A Prophet with Honor,” you can more fully understand who he was and what he believed. For another take on the evangelist’s life, you can also read “Through My Father’s Eyes,” written by Franklin Graham.
“Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In” - Louis Zamperini
There have been countless brave men and women who have fought for the freedom that we enjoy today. Many of our nation’s most beloved soldiers came from WWII and the struggle with Japan and Germany. One hero who made a name for himself around the time was Louis Zamperini. An Olympic athlete and POW, the man witnessed some of the greatest and most horrific moments in the 20th century. “Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In” is the final word on Zamperini’s life, written just before his passing in 2014. If you want more on his unique life, you can also read “Devil at My Heels” or the acclaimed bestseller, “Unbroken.”
“Through My Eyes” - Tim Tebow - Christian Biographies of American Icons
We go from one of the most amazing military heroes of the 20th century to one of the following century’s first major sports stars. Tim Tebow played quarterback for the Florida Gators from 2006 to 2009, winning a Heisman trophy and two national championships. On top of his spectacular play, Tebow came to be known as the main representative for Christian athletes everywhere. Like many athletes he also faced opposition when the time came for him to become a professional athlete. “Through My Eyes,” as well as “Shaken,” chronicles his journey of faith and overcoming disappointment.
“42 Faith” - Ed Henry
Another athlete who overcame adversity (and probably more than any other in history) is Jackie Robinson. As the first African American to play professionally in the MLB, Robinson faced bigotry and racism all of his life. As if it wasn’t hard enough to be a pro baseball player, he had the weight of the civil rights movement on his shoulders as well. In Ed Henry’s book, he uncovers the faith that guided Robinson through these difficult days and the people who God placed in his life to provide support. For Christian biographies of American icons, it’s hard to beat one of the most influential players in the country’s national pastime.
“The Life of A.W. Tozer” - James L. Snyder
A.W. Tozer was one of the greatest theologians and Christian authors of the 20th century. A contemporary of C.S. Lewis, Tozer wrote “The Pursuit of God” and “The Knowledge of the Holy” among other works. Author James L. Snyder has played a part in publishing much of Tozer’s material, so he is ideally suited to write the pastor’s biography. Another quality read on the subject is “A Passion for God” by Lyle Dorsett. Both books outline how Tozer came from humble beginnings and taught himself in many of the subjects where he became respected. To find out more about this great thinker, look for either of these Christian biographies of American icons.
“D.L. Moody - A Life” - Kevin Belmonte
In keeping with the theme of famous theologians, we can’t forget Dwight L. Moody. An icon of Christianity in the 1800s, Moody had many accomplishments, including the development of the Moody Bible Institute. The preacher was born in the early days leading up to the Civil War and though he is not known for great written works, his legacy of sharing the gospel transformed countless lives in years to come. Another great preacher whose story we can lift up as one of the Christian biographies of American icons is Jonathan Edwards. His biography by George Marsden is considered by just about anyone in Christian thinking to be one of the best biographies ever written. For those interested in colonial life and what Christianity looked like in Edwards’ day, the book is a must-have.
“Lincoln’s Battle with God” - Stephen Mansfield
We cannot discuss Christian biographies of American icons and not touch on most people’s favorite president, Abraham Lincoln. Due to his freeing of slaves and winning the Civil War, we often look at Lincoln’s story through rose-tinted glasses. His real journey is much messier, and more interesting. Lincoln saw both the best and worst of Christianity as the issue of slavery tore apart the country. Though he was undeniably a man of faith, he faced incredible doubts and obstacles over the years. “Lincoln’s Battle with God” is the perfect title for a book that covers the president’s spiritual journey.
“The Faith of Ronald Reagan” - Mary Beth Brown
“The Faith of Ronald Reagan” by Mary Beth Brown is an incredible book covering the impossible story of a Hollywood cowboy who became the leader of the free world. Along the way, Reagan’s faith guided him and blessed him with innumerable adventures. Brown also wrote a compelling biography of Condoleezza Rice called “Condi” that is worth checking out. Finally, if you want the autobiography of a president, look for Jimmy Carter’s “Faith.” The 39th president has lived a full life and has done so by walking in faith, doing what he has always felt God was calling him to do.
These Christian biographies of American icons teach us what it means to be an American as well as a Christian. Stories of adversity, hope, and selflessness echo the path that God has placed before all of us. As we move on from national holidays and step toward the future, it doesn’t hurt to learn from our history and to act in similar fashion to these amazing people.
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