I have been around the world multiple times.
I have spent days in the
survivors of a horrific plane crash. I have walked the slums of Andes
I have spent time on the green terra firma of New Delhi Ireland
and in the backwoods of the Appalachians. I
have spent time with men diving for lost WWII submarines in Kiska and witnessed “the
lost boys” from the Rwanda
genocide making new lives for themselves. I have cavorted with the likes of Robert Service,
Charles Dickens, Victor Frankl and John Grisham.
All because I read.
The people I have encountered, the locations I have gotten to explore…..they are both real and fictional. I enjoy all genres. Every book….whether biography, poetry, classic, fiction, or non-fiction, enriches me, expands me.
But there is one genre that I steer away from, and that is books on Christian doctrine or systematic theology.
Because with every doctrinal book, you are getting a human slant. All commentary in a book of doctrine is ultimately a discussion from a human point of view.
If someone wants to find “support” for his religious views, he can always find a theology book which agrees with him. All you have to do is find the right author, or team of authors. And often, then, what one reads becomes their new official "stand" on the subject. This is taking human slant as truth.
Human slant is not truth.
And books of Christian doctrine cannot help but be biased.
Truth is found only in the Bible. I want only God’s take on everything. I want only His words and the Holy Spirit’s inspired teachings. If there is something in Scripture that I may find difficult to understand, I ask God to make it clear to me rather than turn to human bias in some book of doctrine. I will read in the footnotes the original Greek meanings of some of the words, and that helps me more accurately internalize a passage.
Let's take healing for an example. An obvious choice for me.
People can read, for instance, all they want in commentaries about divine healing and God’s will in it. But it can be taken totally out of context because the authors are human beings (many with a denominational leaning) who have a set of thoughts about the subject already.
If those same readers-who-want-interpretation would simply take God AT HIS WORD, accept what He says as truth, they could not deny the place of faith healing in the church today. Scripture makes it clear. The trouble is that too many people read Scripture and then feel the need for an “expert” to dissect it for them, not stopping to consider that the interpretation is human-driven, and therefore, up for debate and bias.
So, I stick with my Bible. I sometimes read 2 or 3 different Bible translations of the same chapter so that the words really sink into my heart. But systematic theology is not the next place I turn. I have learned to take God solely at His word and place my understanding of truth on that alone.
And so I sojourn around the world every day, drinking in all that books can offer (thank you Mom and Dad for giving us 3 kids the love of reading-----we in turn have passed on that avid love of books to all our kids----and we are now seeing the seeds of it in some of the great-grands too!).
But when it comes to issues of faith, there is only one Book. And I won’t water it down by absorbing the partiality of some theological “expert.”
Jesus is all the expert I need.