When I was in high school, I scoffed at reading. I found no joy in it and to be honest, it was just too boring to keep my attention. Now, I had friends who would read two to three books every week. I simply shrugged off their “over-intelligence” and thought they were wasting their time. Since those high school years, a time when I was literally wasting my life, I have grown to greatly appreciate reading and the written word. I in fact now read every single day. I am currently reading three books (I am treating two of them as devotionals). Why the radical change in only two years? One answer: Jesus Christ. My devotion and desire to know Him more and obey Him more closely to His Word and gain a more proper understanding of the nature of God in Scripture has led me to read portions of Scripture every day on a disciplined reading plan as well as read the works of pastors and theologians.
Now, for any of you who know me, you can attest to my frequent reading of John Piper. I do this for only one reason. I have had friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike criticize me for reading so many of Piper’s works, as well as those who have criticized me for reading anypastoral or theologian works outside the Bible. Some have said that it is wrong to read from only one perspective. Others have said that I should read the Bible only and not rely on fallible human minds. I want to address these two complaints and concerns in reverse order.
Firstly, to those who have said that it is “unhealthy” for me (or anyone) to read the works of other pastors or theologians and should not “forsake the reading of God’s Word”: I think you need to take a pride check. Hear me out. One reason I read the works of pastors, theologians, and Christian leaders like, John Piper, David Platt, Francis Chan, C.S. Lewis, Mark Dever, Greg Gilbert, and Danny Akin is not to “forsake the reading of God’s Word.” I read them because I do not presume to have exhausted the breadth of correct and proper Biblical interpretation. While the Holy Spirit does lead me to make my own comments and remarks about certain passages, I do come across many passages that I need aid in understanding. Forgive me, but I am a young Christian and a young student of the Word, so I am not a hermeneutical expert. The reading of such men as the ones I mentioned above only strengthens my devotion to Christ and His gospel. They aid me in understanding problem texts and give me further perspective and wisdom in handling texts I am familiar with. I can truly credit Piper and Platt for entirely and healthily, by the way, shaping my theology of God, the gospel, sanctification, and world missions. I am indebted to these men for their works. The role they play in guiding me in the Word, teaching me through the Word, and shaping my view of God by the Word has been sweet bliss to my life. Therefore, to the contrary my friends, it is quite healthy and in fact through the Word of God that I continue to read the works of these pastors, theologians, and Christian leaders.
Secondly, to those who have said that I should not just read from one perspective. Okay, I can see where you all are coming from. It is typically not intelligent to only read from one perspective and assume that the perspective you are reading is correct. This is true in all scopes of life, including Christianity. But man it is just tough for me to read anything except Piper! For the record, from time to time I do throw in a little C.S. Lewis, and I have read from David Platt, Francis Chan, and a few others; just so you know that I am not solely committed to reading Piper and nothing else. The reason I stick so closely to Piper is that I love his God! I love the view of God that John Piper presents in his works. He is an exegetical mastermind and his exposition of who God truly is and what it means for me and the entire world keeps me running to bookstores (or Amazon) to buy his books. He paints a beautiful portrait of the God of the Bible who is sovereign in His grace, kind in His mercy, magnificent, big, and beautiful in His glory, and infinitely happy in Himself as He graciously shares this overflowing joy with His creation through His Son Jesus Christ. O, how my heart leaps for joy at just the thought of such a God. The best part is this: Piper is not creating this God with his own gifted mind. Piper sees this God in the Bible and he has helped me to see him too. Therefore, I find greater joy in God and in Scripture because of Piper’s influence on my life. So, yes, I do read more John Piper than I do any other author, but that is simply because he paints such a beautiful painting of God and I could gaze at its beauty all day long. I will compromise with the fact that I must read the works of other Christian theologians and pastors, and I will. However, in the beauty and the glory of this summer, it is only appropriate that I read the works of a man, while fallible, who has a view of God that is as big, grand, glorious, and powerful as the beaming, fire of the sun that shines down each day. My passion for Christ and His glory is as hot as this summer has been and will be as I continue to read the works of John Piper along with and definitely not instead of the Holy infallible, inerrant, Word of God. It is my sole authority with God as its author and life-giver. May Piper’s works continue to bring me joy as he leads me to, through, and by the Bible.
May my desire for God increase through reading the written word while I decrease. For His glory, the sake of the name of Jesus, and the sake of the nations.
By His Grace — For His Glory — For our Joy