Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Few Tips on How to Read a Book

Before I became a follower of Jesus Christ my primary reading material consisted of comic books and hockey literature.  No one would have accused me of being a reader.  Upon coming to know the Lord, I almost immediately developed a desire to learn all I could about ancient history, science, philosophy and theology.  I remember feeling like I had wasted a lot of time and that I needed to catch-up!

My pastor at the time, who had encouraged me to investigate the truth claims of the Christian faith, always took the time to listen as I shared what I was learning.  During our discussions he would often share a nugget of advice about how to read a book wisely.  For example, I remember when he explained to me that just because an author claimed to be a Christian, that didn't necessarily make it so.  He encouraged me to weigh the claims of the author against what scripture had to say and allow the Bible to be my ultimate guide.  Now for some of you, that may seem obvious; however, for a new Christian that mainly read comics and hockey literature, this was very helpful!

Another helpful piece of counsel he offered was how to deal with an author when they made a claim that I disagreed with or I believed was just plain wrong.  He helped me to understand that reading a book was similar to eating fresh fish.  When you eat a fish, you enjoy the meat, but every once in awhile you'll come across a bone that you have to spit out, but you don't get rid of the entire fish!  In like manner, if the author of a book your reading argues their case for a view you don't hold to or outright reject, simply treat it like a fish bone and spit it out.  However, this doesn't mean you must disregard the entire contents of the book!

It is very rare that I read a book and agree with everything the author has written and that is okay!  I consider their position, but if I ultimately find it unconvincing, I simply move on and consider what else they have to say.  I may not agree with everything they teach, but their teaching on other topics could be of some worth.  You can still learn from somebody if they have a different view of the age of the earth or perhaps hold a different view of pre-destination.  Be sure to major on the majors and minor on the minors.

So, when you are reading be sure to allow scripture to be your ultimate authority and when you run across something you don't agree with, simply spit out that bone and see what else you can learn from the work.

Courage and Godspeed,

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