Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reading Reaction

I've read and heard a number of tips from Christian leaders in the past month or so that got me rethinking my reading habits (see articles herehere and here). There are basically two points that have stood out above the rest and challenged me to start reading differently: the first was that I should read more ancient Christian works; the second, that I should read books representing as wide a theological spectrum as possible.

Well, here's my initial reaction to these two points:

#1 - Learning from Christian writers from the past 2000 years

This is ideal and desirable, but certainly not practical in every situation. God has wired each of us differently and placed us in different circumstances. Reading theologically sound works by contemporary authors is so much easier and results-oriented than going through the works of, say Calvin or Augustine, and I don't mean this in a bad way, either.

The flip side: Am I encouraging laziness and cultural narcissism in Christians? Well, each of us is a steward of his/her own time, and finding the balance between the ideal and the worldly is between an individual and God. So I won't lose any sleep tonight wondering if I've armed anyone with an excuse not to serve the Lord with all of the mind.

#2 - Reading from a wide theological spectrum

In many ways, I believe this helps. If I were to completely deny that this approach to reading was intellectually and spiritually rewarding, then I'd be pitting my opinion against such greats as BB Warfield and DA Carson. No, thank you. Besides, my faith has also been sharpened by reading the works of authors (secular as well as religious) whom I didn't agree with.

But it takes a high level of patience, focus and imagination to make a habit out of reading stuff you know you won't like. There's also the risk of confusing yourself needlessly. Finally, there's the issue of money. So I would weigh the inconveniences and risks involved with such reading against its possible benefits. And I'd do it not as a discipline, but on a case-to-case basis.

The flip side: Limiting the range of our reading is practical in many ways, but it does not challenge our natural, sinful tendencies towards self-righteousness and intellectual smugness. This has been a long-standing struggle of mine, and I'm not prepared to offer a defined answer my dilemna.

But the bottom-line is still...

What else? God's sovereign grace. I love the Lord Jesus' promise in Jn.15, verse 5 and 16: "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. ... You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide, that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you."

Related Posts:

  1. An Unexpected Tip from Rick Warren
  2. What John MacArthur and Albert Mohler say about reading
  3. What John Piper and Trevin Wax say about reading


  1. I have been reading your posts, and it seems like your intellectual/religious pursuits have bourgeoisie and Euro-centric overtones. You give me the impression that your convictions are very selfish and abstract, with no concrete manifestations in the socio-political realm.

    Tell me, are you doing something to make this world a better place? Are you making an effort in bringing about a version of a utopia or kingdom? Please tell me if you are.

    Why don't you become a transparency activist, a critic of national or American foreign policy, or campaign for reforms that address the legitimate grievances of the marginalized sectors of Philippine society. Those are harsh realities which need more attention than your stupid God who is full of shit.

    Be an intellectual or activist instead of being a self-serving faux Christian. The Global South does not need the latter.

  2. @ Anonymous:

    I suppose that you're very active in the socio-political realm, so I'm actually surprised that you took the time to read, analyze and react to my posts.

    I'm sorry that you've jumped to so many conclusions about me just by reading my posts. I'm try to live my life the best way I know how. I hope you are too. And let me just say that making hasty conclusions about strangers based on (apparently) preconcieved notions about Christ is not a good use of time, by anyone's standards.

    If you do respond to this comment, I'd appreciate it if you left our swear words.

  3. Sir,

    I hope you consider reading some of the books and articles here:

    They are treasures....

  4. @ Anonymous: Thanks for the links, bro/sis. :)