Dear Friends,Check out this post on the great value of reading for Christians, from the desiring God web site today. I’ll put the article below too, for faster access….Pastor David
On Reading, July 17, 2007 | By: Josh
Christians are people of the book: God purposely chose the medium of typography to deliver his revelation to us. In that book, we are commanded to love God with our hearts and our minds (Matthew 22:34-40). This gives Christians a clear command to use their intellects — to be, in other words, a kind of intellectual.Reading is one of the best ways to develop our minds. It can help us to know God and ourselves, gain vicarious experience, increase our perception and imagination, train our minds to think critically and logically, and teach us self-discipline. (For more on this, see Neil Postman’s excellent Amusing Ourselves to Death.)But we have a problem: our culture is becoming aliterate. We have the ability to read but not the desire. Or maybe some of us have the desire but not the time. We make time to watch television and surf the Internet for the latest triviality, but we can’t seem to make the time to sit down and read for an hour.Christians should be readers. We should read and meditate on the Bible, of course, but we should also read theology. Good theology systematizes and explains the Bible in ways we would be pressed to come up with on our own. Few of us are a Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, J. I. Packer or John Piper, and we would be wise to learn from them.Most of us know we should read the Bible and theology. But what about other subjects, like literature, history, biography, science, and culture? And what about books by non-Christians? I think we should read widely, and yes, that includes reading non-Christians. John Calvin thought so too:Therefore, in reading [non-Christian authors], the admirable light of truth displayed in them should remind us, that the human mind, however much fallen and perverted from its original integrity, is still adorned and invested with admirable gifts from its Creator. If we reflect that the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, we will be careful, as we would avoid offering insult to him, not to reject or condemn truth wherever it appears. In despising the gifts, we insult the Giver…. Nay, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without the highest admiration; an admiration which their excellence will not allow us to withhold. But shall we deem anything to be noble and praiseworthy, without tracing it to the hand of God? (Institutes II.ii.15-16)God has set up the world so that even non-Christians can find truth. I’ve learned truth from Christians and non-Christians. We can’t expect non-Christians to have sound theology, but they are some of the best authors in other subjects. If we reject their Spirit-given insights because they are non-Christians we, as Calvin says, “insult the Giver.”C. S. Lewis was a voracious reader. From reading Surprised by Joy, one has the impression that he read pretty much everything by the time he was fifteen. But this was the secret to his success. The reason he could communicate truth so clearly was because he lived many lives through reading. He considered subjects from a diverse perspective through reading widely. I can think of none better to give us a final exhortation to make use of God’s great gift of reading:Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realise the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realise it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented….[I]n reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.