Reading Too Much

I saw this quote by John Newton over at Desiring God. Quite interesting.

It is far from my intention to depreciate the value or deny the usefulness of books, without exception: a few well-chosen treatises, carefully perused and thoroughly digested, will deserve and reward our pains; but a multiplicity of reading is seldom attended with a good effect.

Besides the confusion it often brings upon the judgment and memory, it occasions a vast expense of time, indisposes for close thinking, and keeps us poor, in the midst of seeming plenty, by reducing us to live upon a foreign supply, instead of labouring to improve and increase the stock of our own reflections.

– John Newton in his letter “A Plan of a Compendious Christian Library” (Works of John Newton, Volume 1, 236).

I am also reminded of these challenging words by the wise teacher of Ecclesiastes:

Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. (Ecclesiastes 12:12b)

I love to read, theology and spiritual-devotional books. I love to study, especially theology. Even so much that, at times, I can find myself delighting in it above Him who is to be our greatest delight. Father, guard my heart. Father, guard our hearts

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6 thoughts on “Reading Too Much

  1. Every time I read yet another highly complex grammatical argument about John 1:1-3, I can’t help thinking to myself that John would have been utterly baffled and horrified by all the nonsense written about his prologue.

    I am quite sure that it made perfect sense to him and his audience at the time. Nobody required a massive lexicon and two decades of academic scholarship in order to understand what he meant. So why should we?

  2. So we should sever the connection between the Logos and theos?

    I’m reading the new articles over at P & P now. Guess you are saving John 1:1-3 until next week.

  3. No, we shouldn’t sever the connection between the logos and theos. What I’m saying is that I belive we’ve made the entire passage far more complicated than it really needs to be.

    Does anyone honestly believe that the original readers of John’s gospel had to sit down with a shelfload of academic journals and expert opinions just to figure out what he meant in a mere three verses?

    Or do you think it’s far more likely that they understood exactly what he meant because he wrote in the language of his time, which was far more comprehensible to his ancient audience than it is to his modern one?

  4. Of course they knew what it meant without all the of books. They knew Jesus was the eternal, divine Logos. 😉

    Maybe we can reserve discussion on John 1:1-3 when you bring it up in your articles (next week?).

  5. I merely raised John 1:1-3 as an example.

    My point is that from a book which was perfectly comprehensible to people of the first century AD, we have over-complicated the Bible into an enigmatic tome that many people believe cannot be understood except by highly qualified experts. I am reasonably confident that this is not what God had in mind when He first caused His book to be written.

    In short: I am agreeing with your original post!

  6. Pingback: Reading Too Much: A Timely Warning | Pastoral Musings

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