Will you read a book by an individual who had some type of near death experience and claims to have experienced heaven — But not a book that thoughtfully and carefully considers what the Bible says about heaven, such as: Heaven by Randy Alcorn?
Will you read a book by someone who dreamed they spent 23 minutes in hell and then wrote about it — But not a book that thoughtfully and carefully considers what the Bible says about hell, such as: Erasing Hell by Chan and Sprinkle?
Will you read a creative fiction book like The Shack — But not books that thoughtfully consider the biblical view of the Trinity or why bad things happen in life, such as these: Making Sense of the Trinity by Millard Erickson (only 108 pages!!) and If God is Good, Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil by Randy Alcorn?
None of the books I suggest (the links) are published by the academic division of a publisher. They were written for lay people, everyday people, but are books of substance to teach biblical truths.
I am not saying there is never a time or place for books about someone’s experience or a creative work of fiction. But if we are not grounded in the Bible, how will we know if these stories CONFIRM -or- CONTRADICT Scripture?
Are we basing our beliefs on someone’s experience or on the Word of God?
Do we really believe the Bible is our ultimate source of spiritual truth? The Bible makes us wise for salvation. Consider Paul’s final charge to Timothy:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Notice that Paul speaks not only about the primacy of the Holy Scriptures, but that Timothy learned from those he knew and trusted – individuals who, I am sure, were grounded in the Scripture.
We can learn a lot from books about the Bible. I have a huge library! But there is a difference between books that are grounded in the author’s serious study of the Bible -AND- books that are grounded in the author’s experience or a superficial consideration of the Bible. Be discerning.
Again, I am not dissing all “experience” books or fiction books. But it becomes a problem when that is the majority of what we read, to the neglect of Bible reading, Bible study, and reading books of substance about the Bible.
Are you primarily reading books that entertain you?
There is a time to be entertained but not all the time.
For thoughtful books about the Christian faith, by those well-grounded in the Scripture, some authors I recommend: AW Tozer, Jerry Bridges, John Stott, JI Packer, NT Wright, Randy Alcorn. And in this post I suggest some basic books to help you study the Bible for yourself: A basic Christian home library.
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UPDATE, a good article from Randy Alcorn:
When It Comes to Book-Reading, Let’s Raise the Bar and Expand Our Minds
“If we always put the cookies on the lower shelf, young people (and older people too) won’t learn to reach for anything higher. We popularize everything, and as a result, books and Bible studies and discussions of substance are becoming progressively unpopular.”
Update, From Karen Swallow Prior, in CT, Jan/Feb 2019:
“The greatest pleasures are those wrought of labor and investment. A book that requires nothing from you might offer the same diversion as a television sitcom, but it is unlikely to provide intellectual, aesthetic, or spiritual rewards long after the cover is closed. Therefore, even as you seek books that you will enjoy reading, demand ones that make demands on you.”
– Note that Prior is a professor that teaches literature so this isn’t just about reading non-fiction that is informative or theological. Prior is an advocate of reading widely and “reading well” or with excellence. Quality works of fiction can entertain but can also teach us many things, if we are reading well. Especially in a digital age that encourages superficial reading and bouncing around on the internet, we need to make an effort to read deeply. We miss valuable lessons that can be gained from great works of classic literature when we lose our ability to read attentively and insightfully, paying attention to the text and context – in order to “harvest the fruit” that reading such books is designed to yield. (Prior recently wrote a book entitled: On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books.)
Rachel Nichols said:
There are a lot of better allegories than The Shack. And because it claims to answer tough theological questions we should hold it to a higher–not lower standard.
I’m writing a post on fiction that edifies instead of just entertaining.
Come back and link to your post here, when you finish it. Yes, there is better allegory and other types of fiction that can teach truths and impart wisdom.
Reblogged this on multicolouredsmartypants and commented:
There’s a really good book called ‘Positively Powerless: How a Forgotten Movement Undermined Christianity’ by L.L. Martin which I can highly recommend.
Other books I can recommend: ‘God’s Smuggler’ by Brother Andrew, ‘A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power’ by Jimmy Carter, ‘Kisses from Katie’ and ‘Daring to Hope’ by Katie Davis Majors, ‘The Choice’ by Edith Eger (not a Christian book per se but one I would highly recommend), ‘A Year of Biblical Womanhood’ by Rachel Held Evans, ‘Streams of Living Water’ by Richard Foster, ‘William Wilberforce’ by William Hague (a biography of the devout abolitionist by a non-Christian in which God’s presence shines through), ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’ by Brother Lawrence, ‘Mama Maggie: The Untold Story of One Woman’s Mission to Love the Forgotten’ by Marty Makary and Ellen Vaughn, ‘The Ragamuffin Gospel’ by Brennan Manning, ‘The Blue Parakeet’ by Scot McKnight, ‘A Life for Christ’ by Dwight L. Moody, ‘Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality’ by Richard Rohr, ‘One Thousand Gifts’ by Ann Voskamp and ‘Gospel Childhood’ by Elizabeth Ruth Obbard.
On my (Christian) to-read list: ‘The Autobiography of Ignatius of Loyola’, ‘Searching for Sunday’ by Rachel Held Evans, ‘The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul’ by Philip Doddridge, ‘Humility: the Beauty of Holiness’ by Andrew Murray, ‘The Bruised Reed’ by Richard Sibbes, ‘Man, the Dwelling Place of God’ by Tozer, ‘Sins of Omission: A Primer on Moral Indifference’ by S. Dennis Ford, ‘Eager to Love’ by Richard Rohr and ‘Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices’ by Thomas Brooks.
Thanks Sandy for re-blog and some good book suggestions!
I forgot that all of that would end up on your blog! I was thinking it would be at the top of the reblog. My apologies for such a long comment (*^_^*)
Reblogged this on James' Ramblings.
Thanks for the re-blog James.
Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote said:
Just recently, I was going through a box of books that I acquired years ago, only some of which I had read, when I came across a very large, 400+ page book, that was all about near death experiences.
I am not sure how that book came into my possession, but I am certain that I had never read it. As I thumbed through some of the pages, the things I saw told me that this book does not belong in a Christian home.
Rather than simply throw it in the trash, I tore the book apart and shredded it. The book was that bad! My husband, who loves to read like I do, was a little appalled. But as I told him, I did not want that book falling into someone’s hands and leading them astray.
Earlier today, I read the free sample portion of Randy Alcorn’s Heaven on my Kindle, and saved it to my Wishlist. Then I read this post. Looks like we are on the same page. ☺
Hi Linda Lee, thanks for stopping by my blog. I have done the same thing – destroyed a book for similar reasons of bad teaching in it. Yes, I would not want to feel responsible for it leading someone astray if I donated it. I find Randy Alcorn a very worthwhile author.
I have done the same. I bought a second hand book thinking it was a Christian book and then when I started reading I realised I had mistaken it for something else and it was actually a ‘Christian Spiritualist’ book (do you have ‘Christian Spiritualists’ in the US?). In the bin it went.
Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote said:
Good for you! Spiritualism opens the door to all kinds of evil. When I was 14 years old, more than 50 years ago, I joined a group of my high school friends who were holding seances with a ouija board. That was bad enough, but then another teenage friend loaned me a book that explained in detail how to be a medium and contact the dead. My paternal grandfather had recently died and I used that book to try to contact him. I also loaned the book to another high school friend whose mother had died when he was a small child. The evil and terror that came into my life, and also into my orphaned friend’s life, was worse than any horror movie. Worse, because it was happening in real life!
Today I am so grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ for delivering me from all evil! Oh, but the years before I became a Christian were so miserable. If I could turn back time and redo just one thing in my life, it would be my involvement with the occult.
I wish someone had destroyed that evil, satanic spiritualist book before it was placed in my hands! And the ouija board, too!
Yes, there are people in the U.S. who call themselves Christian but practice spiritualism. That’s why, as this great post points out, it is important to know the Bible, and to have discernment about who we follow and what we read.
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