Thursday, January 25, 2007

Reading as a Christian Discipline - Survey

Kim over at Hiraeth is conducting a survey on the virtues of reading as a Christian Discipline, as it relates to blogging and reading blogs. To take part in the discussion you should copy and paste the questions she has here, post them and your answers on your own blog, then leave a link in the comments section of her post here.

There are already a few answers in, so here goes our (Nicki & Catriona) contribution to the discussion:

Has reading Christian blogs increased your desire to tackle weighty Christian tomes?

Yes, I've tended to only read weightier volumes in relation to theological study, not necessarily writers I'd choose to read now. Christian blogs have certainly encouraged reading some of the more fruitful greats.

Reading blogs has certainly made me more aware of some of the "classics". Fortunately, my husband reads even more than I do, and often when I see a book recommended on a blog, I find it's on our bookshelves already!

Have you learned of Christian authors and theologians that you might not have otherwise known or read?

Yes, particularly contemporary American authors that we might not otherwise hear of in the UK.

Similar to Nicki, reading blogs has introduced me to several authors from the USA that I might not otherwise have read.

Have you purchased or borrowed books that were recommended by bloggers?

I've borrowed the odd book from my blogmate Catriona, but I've tended to purchase more.

Yes. I tend to purchase more often than borrow and have purchased several books recommended by blogs, including books for my children.

Have you read fewer "real" books as your blog reading has increased?

No, blog reading has tended to do the opposite!

I've found that contributing regularly to a blog has given me a renewed incentive to read books so that I have something to post on! I have always been a bit of a bookworm, though, and getting recommendations from other blogs just gives me an excuse to try to read more.

Has the availability/searchability of great Christian works caused you to rely upon them merely as resources?

I think that was something that I was perhaps guilty of in the past. If a book has something in it worth referencing to, then it's worth reading as much of the book as possible, taking in the overall context of what the writer is saying. When reading some of the contemporary writers who quote from the great writers of the past, my thought is, "I must read that!"

I do sometimes use these works as resources but I also try to discipline myself to read through an older or "classic" Christian book regularly. I find greater concentration is needed for these than for more modern Christian authors, so with two small children progress can be slow. I do think it is worth reading the original sources.

Do you think reading the great Christian authors and theologians is important and/or profitable?

Yes. They are a more difficult read. Sometimes I find it helpful to read some kind of overview of their work or a contemporary revised version.From there I'd go on and read the real deal. There is tremendous value in going back to the primary work itself.

Absolutely, yes. These books may take more time and concentration to work through but they are worth the effort.

Do you read them?

Yes. Fortunately being a student in theology it is par for the course - it's hard to avoid even if I wanted to!

Yes. During my early twenties, most of the Christian books I read had catchy titles and were in the top ten list at the bookshop. I approached each one thinking that it would give me that "magic formula" for living a fulfilled Christian life and I was always disappointed. As I've got older (and have less time to waste!), I've come to really appreciate books from the great Christian authors, modern and historical. I usually have more than one book on the go at once, and I try to make sure one of them is a weightier "classic". Just now I'm reading the letters of Samuel Rutherford, the Scottish Puritan.

If so, who do you recommend?

There's plenty I wouldn't recommend! Some of the greats would be Charles & Susannah Spurgeon, JC Ryle, Baxter, Calvin, Stott, Berkhof, Grudem and Edwards (I'm hoping to dip into Owen at some point & borrow Cat's "Mystery of Providence by Flavel). Most of my reading at the minute would include favourite authors such as Don Carson, Don Whitney, John & Noel Piper, CJ & Carolyn Mahaney, JC Ryle, Alistair Begg, R.Kent & Barbara Hughes, Elizabeth Elliott, Susan Hunt, John McArthur, JI Packer, Sharon James. A mixed bag of old and new, male and female, not necessarily "classic theologians" but all worth their weight in different ways.

I would concur with all that Nicki recommends. For me, I really appreciate the Puritan works and also recommend reading good Christian biographies from time to time. It is a great encouragement to read of how great Christians from history have lived God-glorifying lives.

1 comment:

Rosemary said...

You list some great books. I recommended biographies too; I've learned so much from them.

I enjoy your blog, and I'll be back.