Sunday, February 12, 2012

reading: so many choices, so many questions

I recently received a question from someone who was honestly requesting feedback about a topic that has become quite a hot button among modern, Christian readers. It went something like this:

Why do people of our religious belief recommend books 
authored by those who do not hold to our doctrinal beliefs 
and who, through their study and research, 
do not agree with the Apostolic doctrine and, at times, speak ill of it?

I think this was a very valid question that deserves honest reflection.

(Just for the record, I guess this is a good place to say that I have yet to read a book, an article, or a study in which I agreed with the author, apostolic or otherwise, one hundred percent. I always find at least a little something that I disagree with!)

I addressed this issue in a post I made at the end of 2009.  You can read that post by clicking on this link:

In that post, I maintained that it is the personal responsibility of the reader to process everything they read through the filter of the Word. I said:

"It would be interesting as well as scary and horrifying to know how many well-meaning people with an intense hunger to know God were led off the path into the the side roads of humanism, self-adulation, and dependence on abilities and marketing instead of the Spirit, all because of what they fed their mind on a daily basis.  
Every book must be processed through the filter of the Word.  
Every innovative idea must be processed through the filter of the Word.  
Every emphatic re-discovered "truth" must be processed through the filter of the Word.  
Otherwise, our souls will soon become a product of of our culture, and the eternal will be swallowed up in the slick, and our lives will become worthless, empty, clanging bells. But there is no way to process all the new books and ideas through the filter of the Word if we don't KNOW the Word. If it isn't hidden in our hearts. If we don't read it over and over and over again to allow the layers of revelation it contains to overwhelm us fresh and new every morning."
I have not changed my position in that regard. I still maintain that so much misdirection occurs when good people read bad stuff and don't know it's bad stuff because they don't know the Word.
The problem does not lie with their desire to grow or do better--the problem lies in the fact that they do not have the Word hidden in their heart and, consequently, do not have the filter of the Logos through which the "stuff" can pass.
As far as whether or not we should read authors who do not agree with us doctrinally, I think the Word itself provides that answer. Paul talked about reading after the authors of the day when he spoke on Mars Hill in Acts 17:28 and told them that "certain of your own poets have said." In 2 Timothy 4:13, he also asked Timothy to bring him his coat and his "books, especially the parchments" when he came to see him in prison. It only stands to reason that those books were not all authored by ones who had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. They were probably copies of Old Testament writings, but as evidenced by his knowledge of the Greek poets on Mars Hill, they almost certainly included books authored by Greek philosophers.

It is my opinion that the answer lies in how well one has metabolized the Word.  

The Word is the filter.

We must apply the same filter to the writings of those who do not share our doctrine that we do to conferences, sermons, and music of those that do not share our doctrine.

We must make a clear, distinct difference between "directional voices" and "inspirational voices."

The Word draws the line for us.


  1. Cheryl Dowden PollockFebruary 12, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Sister Shock, This is an excellent blog post. I am going to post some of your quotes on FB and give you credit of course. The statements about filtering everything one reads through the Word is excellent. I also was touched by "good people read bad stuff....don't know it's bad because they don't know the Word". How true in the church world today. Thanks for your blog, my sister.

  2. Thank you for your kind words! Blessings!