14 May, 2007

Living Amongst Giants

I have heard many complaints from believers that they are unsatisfied with the level of spirituality and commitment to Biblical Christianity that they see around them. Often it is these people who refuse to pick up books and find sweet fellowship within dusty old pages. Many times a good biography of a godly man or woman (Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Mary Winslow) will water us in ways that is unimaginable.

When dialogue with Christians around you seems to be carnal and unedifying, you can always read a good 'practical' Christianity book. The Puritans were masters at ethics and Christian living. Many Christians have found sweet fellowship with Thomas Boston, John Owen, or Thomas Manton because of their level of spiritual maturity.

When your preacher is dry and boring, or when his exegesis is poor, there are many sermon books that will delight your soul! Be encouraged, rebuked, and challenged by the preachers who were giants preaching to giants.

In those times when all around you seems to be dark, books are a blessing to a hungry believer. The Apostle Paul was alone and in prison at the end of his life. Many of the Christians that had been around him for most of his ministry had abandoned him. What does he ask for? II Timothy 4:13 says, "when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments." Paul sought fellowship in the Scriptures (parchments) and his books.
In my library I have profitably dwelt among the shining lights, with which the learned, wise, and holy men of all ages have illuminated the world. -Richard Baxter


steveandjanna said...

There are only 66 books that actually matter. Everything else is just the work of sinful men. While they can be interesting and thought provoking, they are not and should never be treated as replacements for scripture. Sadly, many in the church do just this, including many Reformed preachers and believers.

Nate said...

Steve, I would agree that there are only 66 canonical books. These are the ones that are eternal and God breathed.

This does not mean that what pastors in the past have said is unimportant. Would a new convert understand the doctrine of the trinity without Church history's aid? How about the regulative principle of worship?

Also, I know of no Reformed preachers or students of theology that replace Scripture with man written books. If I am wrong, please email me with examples.

I pray that those who do not add to their spiritual life by reading sound books are the ones that are reading the Scriptures MORE than the rest of us, and having family worship that is MORE spiritual and Christ-centered than those of us who are avid readers.

I agree that they are not necessary, but they are very helpful for a well-rounded spiritual life.

Reformed Renegade said...

Good stuff Nate. I treasure my books and the "friendship" they offer me. I'm link to this, OK?

Droll Flood said...

"Many times a good biography of a godly man or woman (Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Mary Winslow) will water us in ways that is unimaginable."

Like Thomas Aquinas?

Droll Flood said...

-By the way, welcome back to the blogoschpfere, sir.

-Sven's hitched (she took the vow) and it seemed to go well.

-It was very edifying time to talk with Sven's dad as well. He had many good things to say as well as the sermon he preached the following Sabbath after Sven's wedding. He is a minister in the PCA.

-Second only to that manna Israel had in the wilderness, dry dusty theology is the food of choice.

steveandjanna said...

I'm not saying that books aren't interesting or helpful but I find that many rely on them way to much. I can think of countless preachers and seminary student preachers who yap about what so and so said 500 years ago but don't bother really explaining scripture in their own words or otherwise. Often they pick the most obscure person to quote, leaving the listener to wonder who he's talking about and why we should care. Interestingly, Ray is one of the few preachers who doesn't do this.

In reformed circles, there is an over reliance on the writings of men to the point that I think at times we look to what so and so said about what scripture rather than scripture itself. It's not the case with everyone of course but I find that many fall into this trap