This was originally posted on MennoDiscuss.
The apocrypha are a collection of very important ancient books. As has been mentioned before, some are quoted in the NT and they definatly fill a conceptial gap between the OT and the NT.
I think that we should be reading some of them not just because they are historically significant, but they are great spiritual books. Some are spiritual novels-- like Bel and the Dragon and Tobit-- but they easily compare to the best of any modern Christian novel, and are better than some "classics" such as "In His Steps". I and II Macabees-- as well as III and IV-- are important works historically, but tough to slog through. Ecclesiasticus is wonderful widsom.
We should also be reading some of the post NT literature for spiritual insight. I especially liked the Shepherd of Hermas (kind of Revelation crossed with the parables of Jesus, all focused on repentance). I also enjoyed the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Acts of Thomas as fictional stories-- I found them hillarious. II Clement is an excellent sermon and the letters of Ignatius are gentle and wise.
Are they inspired? No, but neither is C.S. Lewis-- and we recommend his books all the time. Why would we want to miss out on reading the books that Jesus himself read (the apocrypha) or reading the spiritual classics of the second century?