Reading and Preaching

StudyI remember hearing about someone who made the mistake of writing down a book suggestion for someone he was discipling.  The book was ideally suited to the situation, but the author was just too different.  The man was chased out of his church.

What makes a Bible school “liberal?”  In one sense the term refers to wide and free reading across the spectrum.  Strangely, I hear that there are many of the more “liberal” schools that won’t include “conservative” books on their reading lists.  At the same time, many “conservative” schools will recommend and even require the reading of “liberal” scholars.  If this were all that a label referred to, then they would need to be reversed!

Seems like we should be reading widely (and I’m not really referring to facebook / blog surfing!)  At the same time, it may not be wise to advertise the breadth of your reading habits in some circles.

Good reading should not only reinforce your understanding by affirmation, but also by challenging what you believe.  And as maturity increases, so can the band-width of your reading spectrum.  It seems to be a very immature trait to dismiss books simply because they are not 100% on target.

Read widely, disclose wisely.

8 thoughts on “Reading and Preaching

    • Thanks Jon. I don’t think we need to worry about what non-Christian audiences will think of our reading habits, as in Acts 17. Sadly, church audiences can be much more touchy when immaturity and lack of exposure are features. I suspect the quotation in Titus was culturally well-known. So perhaps you are right, disclose widely. I’d still suggest wisdom depending on the local situation and church culture.

      • You’re right, of course. But maybe we also need to be teaching that this touchiness is not Biblical, and Paul’s example proves it.

        I suspect one way to help defuse the matter is the old disclaimer thing: “I don’t agree with everything he says at all, but this book still has some value.”

  1. It is sad to me that both the liberals and the conservative circles have a tendency to black list certain authors or those within certain theological traditions. It is interesting that you write this for lately, I have probably gleaned more from men I might disagree with on certain points than those who think they must guard the doors and act like they are the evangelical policemen. Thanks again Peter for putting your thoughts into blog ink and I thank God that he has given you the wisdom to say it very well.

  2. I have certainly found this to be true. I’ve often had the comment (more frequently when I was in seminary and reading at the library than now) of “why are you wasting your time reading that? That author has no respect for the Word of God.” I’ve heard that comment related to works by Bultmann (fair enough), Brugemann, Karl Barth (clearly never read Barth), and even C. S. Lewis (he’s a universalist don’t you know?). I’ve always responded that unless I do all that I can to learn not only what this passage means, but what it has meant to others throughout history, I have failed to fully consider it’s depth. And yes, there have been some instances where I’ve had to be careful how I mention whom I’ve studied to prepare for a sermon or lecture. (Maybe it’s the academic in me, but whenever I use an idea that is closely tied to one person’s reading of a passage, even in a sermon, I feel obliged to at least mention the name of my source).

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