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Quotes on Reading

The end to which good men’s libraries finally come is a melancholy subject. Few things are so loved by some, and despised and neglected by others, as books, and specially theological books.  J.C. Ryle (71)

Though fallen on hard times of late, books have played an essential role in Church history…John Bradford, himself only days away from being bound to the stake, offered a petition that was short and to the point—that he might “have his books, and time enough to peruse them”. Yes, some men maintain well-focused priorities to the end. Publishers Notes (72).

J.C. Ryle was a man of like passion (to Bradford). Within these pages his affection for the printed word is made manifest. No doubt the Reformers were first and foremost in his mind, nevertheless few things eclipsed his appreciation of books.  Publishers Notes (73)

We must listen to those who have been in this world before us…they understood the possibilities of the Christian life. So they sought it and they struggled, and thank God, many of them wrote autobiographies; we also have their sermons and letters. They have told us in detail how they conducted themselves and what they did, and their words are invaluable to us.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones (74)

What is Christianity? Well, let us use the famous title of the old book by Henry Scougal: it is The Life of God in the Soul of Man. Once more I commend the historical approach to you. What really led to the great Evangelical Awakening in the 18th century, its ultimate source, was the reading of Henry Scougal’s book by George Whitefield and John and Charles Wesley…It was the reading of that book by old Henry Scougal, who had lived in Scotland in the previous century, that set them on the road to receiving this great fullness, and to their amazing, unparalleled usefulness.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones (75)

Aside from that day in 1960 when I trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, the most important thing I ever did in my life, at least in terms of my spiritual development, was to read, in 1986, Desiring God by John Piper.  Sam Storms  (76)

I can hardly ask more of you than that you turn to (Jonathan) Edwards and (John) Piper after reading my book and drink of the river from which this small stream has emerged.  Sam Storms (77)

Mere lip service to the importance of history will not do. We each have to build in a steady diet of the riches of the past into our reading and thinking. Only the wisdom of the past can free us from the bondage of our fixation with the present and the future…I enjoy the classics immensely, but take in my main understanding of history through reading biographies. In tackling a major or minor biography every two or three books I read, I have found my awareness of history steadily expanding along with my appreciation of the colorful throng of men and women who make the human story so fascinating. Whatever the means you choose, the diet must be steady and the goal clear…It is essential that we rise above the limitations of being children of our own age. Os Guinness (78)

There are many Christian people in our churches today who do not want to be taught. They object to teaching and only want to be entertained…(they) say they cannot be bothered with doctrine—it demands too much effort on their part. They will not read solid books, therefore, but only snippets and digests. They do not believe in studying God’s Word. It is terrible to respond in this way to the glorious truth of the Bible, and when there is such good Christian literature available to us today. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (79)

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13:11, KJV)…And then that brings us to a further way in which this waking up can be done in practice, and that, of course, is by constant reading of the Scriptures. And when I say reading, I really mean reading! I do not mean dashing through the allotted portion for the day…And we must also read books that help us to understand the Scriptures. But not only that; I have often advocated the reading of biographies because of the danger in reading in a purely theoretical manner…So balance your reading. If you are a great reader of theology, make sure you also read something that will examine you—and that is where biographies are so good. Read about spiritual men and women, people used of God and filled with the Spirit. Read about their lives. They will search you; they will examine you.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones (80)

And when you have read the Scriptures, another very good thing to do is to read about revivals…Read the lives of saints; read the lives of the great revival preachers. Have you not found that there is nothing that so fans the flame of the Spirit within you, as to read about men filled with the Spirit whom God has used in the past…next to the Bible itself there is nothing more profitable, more stimulating, more invigorating, than to read such accounts.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones  (81)

Books shape us, dynamically molding our minds and souls. You are never the same person when you finish a book–even one that is read purely for escape or entertainment. A.W. Tozer has aptly stated that “the things you read will fashion you by slowly conditioning your mind”. The decisions we make about what we read are vital…As Christians who are called to continuously chew on the wonders of God, our reading diet is nothing to take lightly…What it means is that what we read matters and directly affects what we become. We are fortunate with the wealth of books at our fingertips.  Scott Larsen  (82)

We ignore the written works of the fathers and mothers of the church to our own spiritual impoverishment. We cannot limit ourselves to reading only contemporary writers, as great as some are, and truly plumb the depths of our Christian heritage.  Scott Larson  (83)

Books! They keep me up late. They sometimes wake me up, summoning me from my bed in the middle of the night. My best friends. My worst enemies…Because every book I see says “come hither and I will make you wise.”  I have now read so many of them they cannot live up to their allurements. Yet all librophiliacs (book lovers, and I did not make this one up) are on the make for that one scintillating paragraph that hides in the deep interior of some book yet to be read. To put it more simply, I’m a sucker for a great read! I always feel the next book I pick up will be the one great book I dare not miss.  Calvin Miller  (84)

I am the product of so many more books than I could ever name.  Calvin Miller (85)

I know I am old and my librophilia (i.e. love of books) is terminal. But a ninety-two year old man once was asked, after he was caught reading Plato, “Why would you, at ninety-two, be reading The Republic?” His reply is my reply: “To improve my mind, of course.” Calvin Miller  (86)

As my reading broadened, the writings of Luther and Calvin, along with the later Puritan writers, meant very much to me, especially in filling out a theology that could support the spiritual life as one of discipleship and the quest for holiness and power in Christ, without the least touch of perfectionism or meritorious works…The effect of all my reading has been constantly to bring me back to the Bible, especially the Gospels, and to find in Jesus and his teachings—in what Paul rightly called “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8, KJV)—the wisdom and reality for which the human being vainly strives on its own.  Dallas Willard  (87)

If I had even the faintest clue when I was younger as to how profound an impact books and professors would have on my life, I would have kept a better record of my thoughts and emotions. Why? Because some books and teachers leave their indelible fingerprints on our souls.  Ravi Zacharias  (88)

Finally, though the writings of Ravenhill, Chesterton, and Boreham have had a great influence upon me, I always encourage Christians to read extensively from many authors. When you read a diversity of authors, you complement your propensity with someone else’s strength and are exposed to ideas you may not otherwise have considered.  Ravi Zacharias  (89)

Reading ought to be an act of homage to the God of all truth. We open our hearts to words that reflect the reality He has created or the greater Reality which He is. It is also an act of humility and reverence toward other men who are the instruments by which God communicated His truth to us.  Thomas Merton  (90)

In pessimistic moments (usually after watching television), I wonder if Western civilization has moved into a new Dark Age in which we sit around all day in recliner chairs listening to rap music, watching game shows and Survivor reruns, and eating fast food. Perhaps the church will be called on again, as it was in the original Dark Ages, to preserve literature and learning.  Philip Yancey  (91)

The underlying truth that serves as the foundation for every word in this book is that books exercise an incredible influence over us—they play a significant role in the process of our continual, lifelong creation.  Scott Larsen  (92)

Notes:

(71) Light from Old Times. Moscow, Idaho: Charles Nolan Publishers, 2000, page v.

(72) Ibid, page v.

(73) Ibid, page v.

(74) The Path to True Happiness: John 2. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999, page 28.

(75) Ibid, pages 53-54.

(76) Pleasures Evermore : The Life-Changing Power of Enjoying God. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2000, page 11.

(77) Ibid, page 12.

(78) Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003, pages 104-105.

(79) Romans: Exposition of Chapter 14:1-17, Liberty and Conscience. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2003, pages 222-223.

(80) Romans: Exposition of Chapter 13, Life in Two Kingdoms. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2002, pages 302-303.

(81) Romans: Exposition of Chapter 12, Christian Conduct. Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2000, pages 370-371.

(82) Indelible Ink: 22 Prominent Christian Leaders Discuss the Books That Shape Their Faith. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2003, page 2.

(83) Ibid, page 3.

(84) Quoted in Indelible Ink: 22 Prominent Christian Leaders Discuss the Books That Shape Their Faith, by Scott Larsen (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2003, page 32).

(85) Ibid, page 39.

(86) Ibid, page 40.

(87) Ibid, page 54.

(88) Ibid, page 191.

(89) Ibid, page 202.

(90) Ibid, page xii.

(91) From the Foreword to Indelible Ink: 22 Prominent Christian Leaders Discuss the Books That Shape Their Faith, by Scott Larsen (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2003, page xi).

(92) From the Acknowledgements to Indelible Ink: 22 Prominent Christian Leaders Discuss the Books That Shape Their Faith, by Scott Larsen (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2003, page vii).