This post has nothing to do with Christmas. Its about reading, and discernment, and is primarily for Christians who are readers of books about Christianity.
I find that certain Christians can be far too strict about what they will read or not read, and I am primarily referring to books about Christian faith. If an author is not in the same theological camp, or is off-base about one thing, they completely reject the author. “I won’t read that because they believe in ________.” Really? This is sad, and limits our ability to learn and grow. (I’m not talking about heresy here! But there is a range of beliefs that fall within the boundaries of orthodoxy.)
If we are mature believers with discernment skills we should be able to easily separate the wheat from the chaff…the worthwhile from the questionable. Someone in a different theological camp may have a perspective we need to hear. Every viewpoint has weaknesses (including ours!) and we can benefit from an emphasis that is different from our standard fare.
If we only read books from those who are in our camp, this can create truncated or narrow vision. We only know what is going on in our own little world. We can begin to think everyone thinks just like us.
It is also good (and imperative really) to read books on a different view written by someone who actually holds the view! Too often we only read books about a viewpoint written by someone who holds the opposite view. For example, someone may be complementarian and only reads books by complementarians critiquing the egalitarian viewpoint. It would be good to actually read a book by an egalitarian about egalitarianism! You may find that the viewpoint of “the other side” has been distorted, exaggerated, or may simply be more rational than typically portrayed. (And this scenario can be stated in opposite, of course.)
And reading books that are outside our preferences can sharpen our discernment and thinking skills. If we only read things by people that think just like us, we are not necessarily being challenged. Hearing a different view can cause us to slow down, analyze, and consider why we believe what we do.
I think an underlying fear can be one possible reason that some Christians limit themselves. But if your beliefs are so weak, or you are so insecure in them that you fear exposure to other views, this indicates a whole other problem.
Please Christians, consider broadening your base of reading. And I close with 2 brief clarifications:
- Note my comment above: “If we are mature believers with discernment skills…” Someone new in the faith needs to become established first. Jumping too quickly into broader reading could create real confusion.
- And while my post is primarily about Christian books, I also think that Christians should broaden their reading in other ways – such as by reading fiction, and secular books of a popular nature. We need to be aware of culture. Truth can also be found in many places. As a Prof of mine used to say “imagers image” in reference to the imago dei.