I love reading. At any given time you will see a combination of theology, history, systematic theology, or biography books on my nightstand (or loaded on my iPad). Another genre I love reading is science fiction. I love The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and the Eragon series. Recently, I started reading (actually, i’ve been listening via audible) the Farseer Trilogy. This series is not “christian” in nature and I began to think whether or not I should be reading non christian books. In fact, over the years I’ve seen the debate take place on various forums on whether Christians should read non christian literature.
As I’ve considered this questions I’ve come to the conclusion that like most things, this is a more complex discussion. In fact, the most important realization I made is that it is in fact a “discussion” and that there is not a blanket statement or answer.
In fact, I think as Christians we should be aware of and educated on whats happening in the secular arts community in order to effectively share the Gospel. So, instead of stating whether or not Christians should read secular books, I’d rather point out some principles to consider in the process of deciding what you read.
Does It Hinder Your Relationship With Christ?
In other words, do you find yourself in a compromising place that causes you to be distant from Christ rather than drawn closer to Him. The challenge here is that this line and question is different for each individual person. Our story, background, experiences, sin issues, and so much more play into how we answer this question. Therefore, it is important to ask it and be honest with ourselves with our answer. If your married, your spouse is a great sounding board. Otherwise, it’s always good to have a few trusted friends to reach out too. If you find that what you are reading hinders your relationship, stop. There is nothing worth reading if it compromises our relationship with Christ.
Does it Stir Up Your Imagination?
This almost deals more with the creative brilliance of the author. As I think about J.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis I marvel at their ability to stir up imagination in both adults in children. We are instantly drawn into Narnia and Middle Earth and experience the challenges and goodness of these places as we turn each page. Our imagination is important to Christians. There is so much that is not black and white in the scriptures and to some degree we are called upon to utilize our imagination as we unpack the depth of God’s Word. What does heaven look like? What does God look like? Will we work in Heaven? These questions require a healthy imagination that is framed by the Word of God.
Is It Fun To Read?
Finally, is it fun? Do you enjoy reading it? Does it bring a sense of satisfaction to you? Does it cause you to mourn the end of the novel and anticipate the next book in the series or another book by the author? God gave us creativity as a gift to both exercise and enjoy. While the author of the narrative exercises their creative gift, we the consumer, get to enjoy it!
Question – What are some of your favorite books? What would you add to this list of considerations?