For those of you who did not figure it out already, my goal is to get through at least 60 books this year. It is the end of February and I am one and a half books behind (I’m working on #9 for this year, trying to get through 5 a month!)
With that said, I have (and will be) reading books all across the spectrum. There will be fantasy, theological, heretical (there have been some of those already) and such. So how do I take these in?
Over the past two months I have picked up on some things to look for in books to tell me whether they are good to pass on or not. Essentially, ways to test their truthfulness.
1. Pay attention to who is saying what about it.
If I read something where a well known Emergent guy has said something good about it, I can pretty much guess that the book is going to disagree with most if not all of what God says about the topic at hand. If you don’t know what Emergent is, ask the Unitarian Universalists, I think they’re brothers.
2. Read the actual quotes that are used in the book (scriptural or non-scriptural).
While reading two of the January books, I had the book in one hand, and the Bible in the other. The author also quoted Bonhoffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, which I had in my other hand. (no, I don’t have three hands, it was a metaphor). The point is, the author used nearly every quote from both books out of the context of which it was written and intended. Pay attention to that, it will change what you think about a certain book!
3. Pay attention to the lanuage used in the book.
The more flowery the language, the more apt people are to fall in love with the author’s style and not hear what is being said (this happens in good and bad books). For instance, if the author uses the word “beautiful” at least three times on one page (“this is beautiful”, “a beautiful picture of this”, “it is beautiful when”), be careful, he is trying to seduce you, and it works.
4. If it smells bad…
I was reading Vintage Church and Driscoll brought up something which I was not sure I agreed with. So I had to stop my reading and study that a bit to make sure that I was reading it right and reading scripture correctly. The point is Acts 17:11 tells of people studying to make sure the words of people are true… I think we are called to the same. In case you were wondering, I figured out that I had misunderstood what Driscoll was saying, and am in agreement with it. But the other guys…
5. If they tell you to abandon theological thinking without any reason besides a bad experience… bail! (or at least be more critical)
Here is where us Bible school kids get a bit of a Catch 22. The Shack makes the claim that Seminary study doesn’t teach us about God the way that we could learn about Him on our own, thus, we should stop studying theology. But if I (a studier of theology) counter that and say it is absurd to stop studying God (theology=the study of God) I have now become a defensive jerk in the eyes of everyone else and no one wants to listen to a close minded freak such as myself.
6. Lastly, (most importantly) Treasure Christ, Glorify God, Honor The Spirit
If any book you read puts the Gospel message as secondary- drop it or read it as one reading the Satanic Bible. Yeah, I mean that. The Gospel, the message of God’s love poured out on the Cross, Christ and His bodily resurrection, The Spirit filling us completely, these are essential in our walks with God. There are other things that are important, but this is more so. All that we as Christians do are within the loving knowledge of these facts.
Be blessed, and read well!