Reading Great Books

Some books are difficult to read because of the use of archaic language.  Some because of difficult prose.  Others due to poor writing skills.  While other books tackle thick topics that require the reader to linger and reread reach paragraph multiple times.  But what if some books are difficult to read because of the condition of the reader’s heart?

When reading the Bible, the condition of the heart is a critical component.  But what about some of those great Christian classics?  Those books that time has demonstrated to be valuable to Christianity at large and void of heretical teachings that pop up in every generation.  They are not the Bible, nor do they pretend to hold the authority of Scripture, but they contain valuable insights into the Person and work of Christ and the Christian life.  Realizing that there are gems within these books requires the reader to maintain a heart open to hearing the Lord speak through the author and into their life.  One classic author, A.W. Tozer, wrote about the topic in a series called “The Use and Abuse of Books”:

Why does today’s Christian find the reading of great books always beyond him?  Certainly intellectual powers do not wane from one generation to another.  We are as smart as our father, and any thought they could entertain we can entertain if we are sufficiently interested to make the effort…To enjoy a great religious book requires a degree of consecration to God and detachment from the world that few modern Christians have.  The early Christian Fathers, the Mystics, the Puritans, are not hard to understand, but they inhabit the highlands where the air is crisp and rarefied, and none but the God-enamored can come…One reason why people are unable to understand great Christian classics is that they are trying to understand without any intention of obeying them.
(Spiritual Leadership, pp102-103)


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