Friday, November 18, 2011

Be Careful Little Eyes What You Read...

Just a quick thought today.  Actually, this thought wanders around the vast cavity of my brain often, I've just never actually put it to computer.

I've been thinking about all the millions of "Christian" books that make their way into a "Christian" bookstore.  What is the standard for a book being "Christian" anyway? Is it simply enough to be stocked on the shelf in a Christian book store?  If we define a Christian as someone who follows and is disciplined by the teachings of Christ, then it is reasonable to say that any book bearing the adjective "Christian" should do likewise, yes?

So in order to judge whether a book adheres to the teachings of Christ, we would have to argue that the reader must first have adequate knowledge about Christ and his disciplines.  "Adequate knowledge" assumes there has been a certain amount of time invested in the research and studying of a particular subject, in this case the Holy Scriptures.

Side note:  ... I watch a sweet little boy a few days a week for a friend of mine.  He's nine months now... and as you can imagine, EVERYTHING he can pick up or grab goes right into his mouth.  He is new to this world and hasn't learned what is appropriate to eat, and what is harmful.  Those around him who have more understanding and knowledge will make that decision for him.  Meanwhile, he is being taught what is good, wholesome, and pure, (and edible!) so that eventually, he will know for himself.

I have two children.  One daughter who is nearly seventeen and a twelve year old son.  It is no longer necessary for me to watch everything that goes into their mouths.  They have been taught that you don't eat paper.  They do, however, still need to be reminded about what is good for them and how they should strive to consume a balance of protein, vitamins, fats, etc.  I correct them when I see that they are indulging themselves too often in sweets, or aren't getting enough vegetables.

So it is with what we allow to marinate in our minds.  In this case we are contemplating spiritual** books.  If the knowledge we have of Scripture is in its infancy, we should rely heavily on someone who has greater knowledge than we, watching what they read, and allowing them to instruct us.  If we are further along in our understanding of Christ's disciplines, we might only need an occasional correcting or pivotal directing, planting us back on the good path.  In our maturity as Christians, we should recognize quickly any errant teaching and avoid it.  Unfortunately, the Christian bookstores are more in the business of making money than disciples, so asking a faithful pastor about specific books in question would be very appropriate.

Because I want only what is spiritually consistent with Scripture, I often ask my pastor/husband what he is reading.

Here are a few of his personal recommendations:

Grace Upon Grace by Dr. Rev. John W. Kleinig
Spirituality of the Cross by Dr. Gene Edward Veith
On Marriage and Family Life  by St. John Chrysostom

**Though I am speaking mostly about books pertaining to spiritual matters, these thoughts also apply to Christian fiction and secular fiction as well.  We love good fiction in our house and see it as a wonderful exercise in imagination and fantasy, but disciplines of God's Word are still vital in judging what stays and what goes.


  1. i loved Grace upon Grace. I wanted to read it slowly and let it all sink in. I'm usually a fast reader, but this book was so rich and Gospel-balm....Good recommendation.

  2. Fran, I am reading it now... and it took me three days just to finish the introductory. Not because it was so difficult, but I didn't want to gloss over anything. I found myself reading a paragraph then folding some laundry while I pondered what I had just read... then going back for a few more paragraphs. I agree "Gospel-balm". :)

  3. That was a very good explanation of how to know what to read. You are not saying to *never* read books we don't agree with -- but to have our main diet be Scripture and that which agrees with it, so we can then, as mature-er Christians, dissect other things we are reading. And of course having leaders is wonderful. Pastors have learned from their Seminary leaders as well! Thanks, Sallie!


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