The of the primary purposes of this site is to encourage reading. This begs a very basic question…Why? For Christians, who are after all the the target audience for this site, one of the most important answers is that God has chosen to reveal himself to us through written text, the Bible. If we desire to grow and mature our relationship with him, reading that text is not optional. In doing so, to mention a few examples, we come to know God the Creator in Genesis, the Deliverer in Exodus, the Redeemer in Isaiah and the Gospels, and the King and Judge of the universe in Revelation.
How often do we see the phrase “It is written” in the Bible? (80 times as translated in the ESV by the way.) These are references to words written in the Law or Book of Moses most often. This implies an expectation of a well-read audience who would be familiar with what actually was written to an extent that they could fill in the context of the reference. So this is not a type of reading for mere memorization, but is rather reading for integration of the words into life. It is reading for understanding, for learning. Another reason why Christians must be readers.
In addition to the more obviously spiritual, however, there are reasons for the Christian to read other things. We are called to be salt and light in our world, to be distinct from the prevailing spirit of the age, to follow a pattern of life other than that of the world. By understanding what the Bible says, we are equipped to read what the culture says…in print, in films and theater, in art of all forms. By being well-read generally, we are able to critique these because we not only know how the Bible speaks to the issues raised but how the whole history of humanity has addressed them. We are then able to engage in a rational discussion of the issues rather than resorting to the unfortunate state of most public discourse today, a combination of sound bites, emotional arguments, and vitriolic assertions, largely consisting of shouting one’s own opinion so as to drown out the similar shouts of the other side.
There must be a return to reasoned engagement with the culture on the part of the church, unashamedly based on the Bible, but fearlessly familiar with what the world around us says and believes. If we, the church, are to be the instrument of preservation to man as a race (salt), and the conduit of truth (light) to a culture who believes there is no such idea, reading in all its forms is an essential.
So read! Read a lot. Read things you don’t like. Read things you don’t agree with. Don’t assume that everthing labled “Christian” writing actually is. Don’t believe that all “Christian” writing is in that type of bookstore or in a particular section of a bookstore. Check this site regularly for suggestions of what to read.
A good place to start is Spencer’s suggested reading list for the year. It’s not too late. Happy reading!