Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When Christians Read

Christians ought to be readers. I have heard individuals say, "I'm not a reader." I sense that some Christians struggle with knowing what to read, so they don't read anything. Moreover, there is that group who will not read anything that does not line up with their entire theology and belief structure. Here is a list of insights found in Foundations for Soul Care by Dr. Eric Johnson. I think this information (which I have paraphrased) will be helpful especially for Christians who find it challenging to know what to read.

1. Regardless of the type of reading material, the goal is always the same for the Christian: growing in Christ likeness. So, what we read should get us closer to this goal.

2. As believers we have assistance, the Holy Spirit. This should be a great encouragement for us.

3. Seek wisdom in the wisdom of others. Reading can serve us well in this task.

4. We must prioritize what we read. Johnson suggests the following hierarchy: The Bible, which will guide us and sharpen us as we read other things; Christian Classics, helpful to expand our understanding of various doctrines. God has equipped many throughout church history, we would be foolish not to read these texts; Other valuable texts, this could encompass a range of genres. Of course we read them through our God-centered lens; Inferior texts, many of these are not helpful reading. Discernment is important here; Bad texts, usually not worth reading. Yet, someone with a solid Christian worldview needs to read these in order to respond to them and educate others; Banned texts, these would be harmful and should be avoided. However, care must be taken not to be over zealous and put everything in this category that is not Christian.

5. Any text we read, save the Bible, should be read with "both trust and suspicion." We read literature, science, non-fiction and all of it with confidence in what we know to be truth. Yet, we ask questions and use discernment realizing that there is good to be gleaned, taking it all captive to Christ.

6. Recognize the value and wisdom of non-Christian texts. Almost like looking at the other team's playbook. This type of reading will sharpen our understanding and maybe even reveal some of our own "blind spots."

The key for believers is to read with discernment. That is why the Bible is our first source. Everything else is read through the lens of Scripture. So, Christian, take up and read.


Thad said...

I'm sure this was a great post, Jon, but since "I'm not a reader" I didn't read it to find out.

Just kidding.

Thanks for posting these insights. So what is the blogger "Under the Steeple" reading these days?

Jon Cyrus said...

As per usual I am challenged to find time for "recreational" reading. And, I often have 2-3 books going at once. Bad habit.

Here's what I am currently reading:
* Foundations for Soul Care by E. Johnson
* Life & Diary of David Brainard by J. Edwards
* The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

Good stuff, but as you can see I am heavy in Christian writers and I am not branching out into the secular texts. Working towards that.

Thanks for visiting Thad. See you at T4G.