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Monday, February 17, 2014

Active Reading

How do you respond to the non-fiction books you read?  How do you respond to the non-fiction Christian books you read?  There is in us an inclination that if something is in print it is probably true.  At least it has been vetted by the publisher, right?  Not really.  Publishers, even Christian ones, are in the business to make money.  They want to sell books.  They do not necessarily have fact checkers or doctrine police on their staff.
Do you read books actively?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I have mentioned several times in the past weeks that I am reading The Divine Conspiracy.  I really like Dallas Willard.  I find his books both encouraging and challenging.  For the most part they align with what I have found in my personal Bible study.

This evening I was working through part of the second chapter.  He shared a thought that caught me a bit off guard.  I wrote in the margin of the book – I do that a lot – “not sure about this one, not validated strongly.”  What that meant was that up to that point in the book he had not strongly supported his position.  He had stated it in a previous chapter – by the way I went to the index to find the previous entry, good books have a good index.  In the next few pages he shared more that he felt supported his statement.  I am still not sure.

The point of this is that as much as I like Willard his book is not inspired.  He is sharing the result of his study of the Word and his thought.  That is valuable, but his position, if it is contrary to the Word of God is wrong.  It is my responsibility when I read him to weigh his thought against the Word.  In fact it is all of our responsibility to do that.  If an author says something about the Scripture about which we have questions, we should immediately put that book down and go check them out in the Word.  If they are speaking to an issue that we have not yet studied, it would be best to put the book down and engage in a study on that topic and then come back to the book to dialog with the author, compare notes if you will.

This morning I met with a friend who shared that his small group Bible study read a lot of books about the Bible rather than actually studying a passage or topic in the Bible.  I hear that a lot.  Reading a book about the Bible, no matter how good it is, is not Bible study.  It is a book about the Bible study.

As believers we are going to give and account for how we engaged with God’s Word, John 8:31 – 32 alludes to this.  He is not going to ask us if we read Willard’s books.

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