I enjoy books that help me to fly by faith not show me how to arrive by faith. I hate arriving to soon at a conclusion only to back pedal later on because I have grown. My worst nightmare is that I would fix myself to an unmovable position on a moving issue. Many cultural truths shift and when they do some Christians can be locked in the spiritual rigamortis of traditionalism. If you’re flying the ground can change and you will be fine but if you have arrived than cultural earthquakes can cause you to feel more than a little helpless. Planes are made to do their work aloft not stay on the ground. I like books that help keep my landing gear up. Here are some tips for reading books that will get your plane off the ground. Unless you like the runway…
Here are some of the questions I ask a book before I commit myself to it…
- Will you help me learn to discern spiritual truth or are you going to discern spiritual truth for me?
- Will you help reveal my personal or cultural blind spots convincingly?
- Are you going to bring me to interact or participate with your big idea?
- Do you use the work of Christ as redeemer and victor as the power for change or fear mongering and guilt?
- Are you more practical in relevance or application? You should be relevant enough for me to make application into my own complex life.
- Do you take into account that the I do not live in a vacuum? You should not be overly ideal but convince me of a truth that will work within my messy and unpredictable real world.
- Will you help me to see what personal and cultural pretensions are causing me to miss the big idea your presenting?
- Do you presume that God is already at work in me (even in the bad things) and help me to build on the past and redeem it or are you going to tell me I should start all over again?
- Do you want to replace my faith with certainty?
- Are you presenting doubt as the incubator of faith, not it’s enemy?
I have found that if a book that I am reading does not feed my growing needs, questions and appetites than I don’t want to waste my time with it. As a pastor I have found the character of my preaching and teaching takes the shape of how and what I read.
What about you? What have you found that makes a book truly life changing?