Books, a Subtle Danger to Centrality of the Word in the Christian Community

I read and value books. So did Paul. I enjoy reading Christian blogs. I love to listen to mp3 sermons. These avenues — Christian blogs, devotional books, and commentaries — while very helpful as supplements to God’s Word, contain a subtle danger, namely, that they will overstep their supplemental position and inadvertently steal a prominent position that does not belong to them.

On a recent visit to New York City, I had the opportunity to reason out of the Scriptures with some orthodox Jews, studying at an orthodox Jewish university. Throughout our discussions, I continually hearkened back to the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings — trying to explain that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of the living God. While these men were highly versed in the commentary on the Old Testament, they did not know much of its content. One individual did not even know that Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied regarding a new covenant. They were well-versed in man-made traditions and the interpretations of many years of teaching, but were unaware of many of the actual words of the Torah, Writings, and Prophets. Their community so over-emphasized what their teachers thought about the Word that they forgot to study the Word itself. 

Our Christian community must recognize that what happened in the Jewish community could happen to us 100 years from now, if we ever forget to maintain the sufficiency of the Word.

While I appreciate Christian blogs, audio sermons, devotional resources, and commentaries, every time I interact with one, it presents a subtle danger if I unknowingly allow it to displace the supremacy of the Word in my life. The day I allow commentary to replace that to which it bears witness is the day that my Christianity will become irrelevant. 

Here’s some questions that should help evaluate whether or not one is falling prey to this subtle danger: 

  • Do I check my google reader before I have my devotions? 
  • When approached with a Bible or theological question, is my first instinct to search the Scriptures or to look it up in Grudem or Erickson? 
  • Do I believe that “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him” is a Bible verse? 
  • Can I name the editors or contributors of the ESV Study Bible, while not knowing the details of Paul’s second missionary journey? 
  • Do I read the Ryrie or MacArthur notes before I read the actual text of Scripture?

Let us be men of the book first, then let us pursue the teachings of others. If we fail to do so, we will end up destroyed by that which we thought would build us up.

  1. #1 by Chris on April 29, 2009 - 9:35 pm

    Good points all. I’ve been thinking on similar things myself. When I start doing the “time spent consuming” test, I find the scripture losing out. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. #2 by Jan Cummins on April 29, 2009 - 9:55 pm


    I read Kristie Jackson’s blog and your mom had written a
    comment on it and gave her your website. My husband Rich
    and your mom are first cousins. We live in Indianapolis.
    I would like to email your mother, but do not have her
    email address. Could you please send me hers or send
    mine to her? I visited with her at Edgar Cummins funeral
    in Muskegon and would like to keep in touch with her.
    Thanks for your help. Perhaps we will meet sometime.

    Janet Cummins

  3. #3 by Siew on April 29, 2009 - 11:30 pm

    Thanks Dave, I’d been thinking about that a bit too. It’s an easy trap to fall into, because the spiritually edifying commentary and sermons are such only because their source material is the ultimate truth. Remember the source.

  4. #4 by clearly on April 30, 2009 - 6:13 am

    Chris, Jan meant that for me, not you! 🙂

    Thanks for the encouraging comments guys. Siew, how ironic you would comment today — I’ve just been thinking back to the good ‘ole quizzing days.

  5. #5 by jose ocasio on May 2, 2009 - 1:33 pm

    great read bro. God bless you

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