Reading: a Christian discipline


“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”

― C.S. Lewis

I believe that God expects us to read. If you have the ability to read, (an incredible blessing!), it is godly to be disciplined in the quality and quantity of what you read. I know we live in a age where reading is on the decline. At first it was the amount we read. Short books replaced long books, articles replaced the short books, blogs replaced the articles, and 140 character tweets replaced blogs. And now, reading seems to be all together out. Short video clips–getting shorter by the day–are taking over. Now I don’t have a problem with brevity or new technological means of communicating. I simply believe that reading is irreplaceable. So if you are a Christian and you can read, be a disciplined reader. By all means, be most disciplined in reading your Bible. But also be disciplined in reading good books.

And that brings me to the C.S. Lewis quote above. Lewis was a big fan of reading old books, and over time I have come to share his opinion. New books, especially Christian books, are mainly old books rewritten. The same ideas communicated in a slightly different way. The drawback is that most new books aren’t as good as old books. It’s true that new books are an easier read; however, the quality of information and argument in a new book is normally lagging behind its old counterpart. It makes sense. When reading and writing was the only means of communication, as well as the main pastime, people spent more time on the art of writing.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read new books. You should! But, like Lewis said, “never allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” With that in mind we are going to periodically point you to some old books that are great reads for modern Christians. One of the hardest parts about reading an old book is finding a good old book! After all, there isn’t a New York Times best seller list for books written 500 plus years ago!

Here are two books by Martin Luther, one of my favorite old authors, to get you started.

The Freedom of a Christian: a great, easy to read little book that I often recommend. It is short, so it can be a good first step into old books, but it is packed with great writing on what it means to be a Christian.

Kindle Version: Free! (titled Concerning Christian Liberty)

Paperback: $13.47

The Bondage of the Will: Longer and a bit harder to read, but still a great book. Luther writes on issues of God’s sovereignty in salvation and man’s ability in the process. Even if you don’t agree with Luther’s conclusions this book is something to read and recon with.

Kindle Version: 99 cent

Paperback: $5.95

**I have both of these books in my library and will gladly loan them out!